The New Home Office

By on October 10, 2011

By Jeani Ziering –

Technology has changed our lives in numerous ways. Instead of talking, many of us are texting and tweeting. Instead of calling or writing, most of us are emailing. Instead of reading newspapers and magazines, many of us are getting the headlines on-line or on our iphones. Instead of reading books, some of us are flipping pages on our iPads or Kindles. Times are definitely changing and our habits are changing along with the times.

These changes are also inherent in how we live and how we work. The advent of technology has made home working easier and more efficient than ever before. Armed with computers, faxes, smart phones, and other devices, legions of home workers have found that it is easier than ever to maintain a professional work space within their homes.

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For a variety of reasons, more people are working from home than ever before. Some of these work space changes are fallout from the economic changes of recent years. Many people have lost their jobs and have reinvented themselves as consultants in their varying fields. Some people accepted severance and buyout packages and continued their careers from home offices. Other people are working within cottage industries that can function from their homes. All of these home based workers benefit from massively lower operating costs. Many are even eligible for significant tax savings. The benefits of working from home are numerous. Lower overhead, no payments to the landlord, less time spent commuting, and better hours are just a few of the perks.

The biggest challenge for many home based businesses is finding and creating a viable work space within the home environment. Some people are fortunate enough to have a large space such as a basement, garage, or carriage house that can be converted into a dedicated work area. If there are employees, the homeowner will have to create multiple desks or work stations to accommodate them. Computers, phones, and fax lines will have to be set up. Storage and filing areas will have to be created. It is important that the work space have a professional atmosphere, especially if clients are expected to visit.

For other smaller home ventures, office needs can be satisfied in smaller and more creative ways. The homeowner will need to convert existing living spaces into user friendly home offices. It is also important that these home work spaces not interfere with daily living needs. The negative of the home office concept is that it sometimes deteriorates into living in a space that is cluttered with never ending paperwork. Picture the former corporate exec sitting in his PJs at the kitchen table with his laptop taking center stage. It happens — more often than not.

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This extra closet was converted into a home office that hides behind beautiful molded doors. Design by Ziering Interiors.

Many people are incorporating libraries into their home décor. These libraries are attractive and comfortable and can double as home office spaces. Libraries have become an important facet in today’s home design. Many people have converted “living rooms” into libraries. These homeowners have found that they “live” in the kitchen and family room rather than in the old fashioned “living room.” Using this space for a combo library and home office maximizes the usage of a home’s square footage. It also offers the opportunity for more realistic and functional use of the spaces within the home.

The home library can be a multi-purpose space to suit many needs. The desk provides much needed work space. The sofa area offers a comfortable seating space where someone can curl up and read their favorite book. If the sofa is a sleeper, it can also accommodate an occasional sleep over guest. It is a single room that can lead many lives and serve many functions.

The plaid papered library show here is in a traditional home. It features built in shelves for favorite books and memorabilia. The cozy leather sofa is a comfortable retreat. “It’s my veg out room,” says the homeowner. The trophies from dog shows recall her days as a dog breeder. It is a very personal and very comforting space designed by Ziering Interiors.

Most home based workers are not fortunate enough to have the space for libraries or large office areas. Despair not, wonderful work spaces can be created from extra bedrooms. We have converted many extra bedrooms into combo home office and guest rooms. The décor can be classic or contemporary, but the usage remains the same. In a recent project in a New York city loft, we created a sleek home office guest room combo. A desk was built into the window alcove so that the homeworker was looking out at his view rather than into the small room. An armless sleep sofa is flanked by built in storage which can accommodate filing needs and well as guest needs. The wall hung plasma television allows the room to function as a small den. Many uses carved out of a small space.

For those not fortunate enough to have an extra bedroom, don’t give up on the idea of working from home. All you need is an extra closet. When there is no extra closet, we have even built closets for the purpose of using it as a home office. For traditional décor, we have created a wall of French doors behind which hides a functional work space. The same concept can have a modern look when treated with sleek sliding doors made of metal and sandblasted glass.

In the photo shown here, we see a large closet that is in the foyer of a pre-war apartment building in New York City. The homeowner needed a place to do paperwork but did not want that space to be visible when she was entertaining. Voila. We created a small home office for her from a little used closet. The space is decorated with some of her favorite antiques. When company arrives, she just closes the doors and does not have to worry if she was unable to file her paperwork. It is hiding behind the beautiful double doors of the closet.

There are many creative solutions for the dilemma of how to work at home. Have an open mind and you will find the solution that best suits you. One important caution. Remember to treat your home work space as you did your business space. Get dressed and go to your desk as you did to your office. Try to keep your day organized with clearly delineated work times and leisure times. Don’t fall into the appealing trap of becoming that man or woman who spends all day in PJs. You’ll end up wistfully thinking of the good old days from which you had tried to escape.


About Jeani Ziering

Jeani Ziering has been involved with the interior design and furniture industry for her entire life. Her parents were well known furniture designers and manufacturers. The family still runs the firm that their parents started. Andre Originals is a popular designer resource for a variety of custom furnishings. Jeani Ziering has also worked in the publishing arena as a writer and editor on interior design and home furnishings topics. Her Dr Decorator articles are featured in Elegant Accents magazine and also on her blog. Ms Ziering views the design process as a close collaboration between designer and client. She views herself as a guide to helping the client create an ideal home or working environment. "I do not dictate to my clients, but rather try to direct them into making educated choices in their space planning and decor." Jeani Ziering's work ranges from high-rise sleek modern to country French to English library to haute French antique. She loves the diversity of her projects. Current projects include an Upper East Side NYC apartment, a loft in Gramercy Park, a beachfront mansion in the Hamptons, and a private club in NYC. "Every client, home and project is different. That is what I love about my work and my clients."

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The New Home Office