As the ways we work and live continue to adapt and change in response to the environment and technology, traditional notions are challenged and new opportunities appear, says Matt Gibson, founder of Australian studio Matt Gibson Architecture + Design. “More people are opting to work from a variety of locations, sometimes rejecting the rigid and sealed open-plan office for the benefits of more natural surroundings.” Working from home has become more common in recent years and is continuing to gain popularity. One common challenge is finding the right space in our dwelling to do so. Having enough square metres to accommodate a desk, creating an inspiring and functional environment, and keeping personal and professional living spaces separate are key when it comes to designing a home office. Here are 15 ways to turn a tiny space into a productive and stylish work area.
1 MAKE THE MOST OF THE SPACE UNDER A STAIRCASE
In this Brooklyn loft, interior designer Jae Joo designed every corner in a distinctive way in order to emphasise or provide a counterpoint to the size and proportions of the space. “We were able to create a small hideaway office tucked underneath the staircase,” Joo says. “I wanted to create a functional yet personal moment by adding all of the owner’s favourite things. Now it’s an ideal nook for a private moment in such a grand loft. Aside from the collectibles, I added only essential pieces for an office space, as the rest of the home is so open.”
PHOTO JULIA ROBBS
2 SET UP A FAMILY WORKSPACE
For some, having an area at home where the whole family can work in a quiet environment is a top priority. Designing one space for adults to answer e-mail while children do their homework after school can sometimes be easier than creating separate areas for each family member. It also fosters dialogue and enhances relationships in a natural way. Children won’t feel alone, and can ask questions if needed. At night or during weekends, this area of the home can be transformed into a relaxed and creative space in which to play, interact or rest.
“WE SPENT TIME THINKING (ABOUT) HOW THE SPACE WOULD ENABLE THE CREATIVE MINDS TO BEST UNLOCK THEIR SUBCONSCIOUS AND DELIVER THE EXTRAORDINARY.”
– NIL ERBIL, FOUNDER AND CO-CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF STYLE MOOD
3 CHOOSE WALL-MOUNTED FURNITURE
For the Habitas New York clubhouse, Nil Erbil included modern and vintage elements. “Some of the furniture pieces are custom-made with midcentury vibes,” says Erbil, founder and co-creative director of Style Mood, a studio that specialises in hospitality, staging and office space design. “We spent time thinking (about) how the space would enable the creative minds to best unlock their subconscious and deliver the extraordinary.” Mounted on the wall, giving the feeling of floating above the floor, the shelves save room while bringing personality to the space.
PHOTO READ MCKENDREE
4 LOOK FOR PERFECTION, OR GO CUSTOM-MADE
Inspired by the owner’s visits to the Schindler House and the Eames House, which both demonstrate how modest scale can be impactful, this Southern California home by Lucas Design Associates was furnished with mid-century and custom-made furniture. “You’re able to find well-designed, high-quality pieces that are full of character yet are made of simple, comfortable materials,” says Suzie Lucas, founding partner and lead designer at Lucas Design Associates. “This office acts as a man cave for our client – a space to unwind, recharge and enjoy the things he loves most.”
PHOTO AARON LEITZ
5 OPT FOR A WHITEBOARD OR PINBOARD
Often placed above a desk, boards can display all kinds of notes. Available in different shapes and sizes, they help to keep your ideas in place, and provide you with a surface to write down a list of tasks with deadlines, so you do not forget meetings and can get a quick overview of what you need to accomplish by the end of the day. Whiteboards and pinboards can also become an inspirational tool, if you affix notes, quotes or images to them. They are also useful for brainstorming sessions.
“THIS OFFICE ACTS AS A MAN CAVE FOR OUR CLIENT – A SPACE TO UNWIND, RECHARGE AND ENJOY THE THINGS HE LOVES MOST, PARTICULARLY MUSIC.”
– SUZIE LUCAS, FOUNDING PARTNER AND LEAD DESIGNER AT LUCAS DESIGN ASSOCIATES
6 STORAGE, STORAGE, STORAGE
Located in Oregon in the US, this four-bedroom home was designed by Jessica Helgerson – founder of the eponymous studio – and senior designer Em Shephard. “Our aesthetic goal for the project was to assemble a warm, casual, familyfriendly palette of materials: linen, leather, natural wood and stone, cosy rugs and vintage textiles,” says Shephard. “The dark beams and windows create a strong graphic element which is balanced and echoed by these more delicate textile patterns.” In the study, an entire wall is dedicated to a large bookcase with plenty of storage space, facilitating a decluttered, clean home office.
7 TRANSFORM A CLOSET INTO A HOME OFFICE
When you don’t have an extra room for a home office, turning a closet into a workspace can be a clever solution. By shutting the doors, you’ll be able to hide it from view and forget about work at night. Start by measuring the closet’s depth, in order to get an idea of what it can accommodate (desk, shelves, printer, etc.). Adding wallpaper or paint can bring personality to the space. Whether natural or artificial, the right amount of light is also key.
8 CREATE A MULTIFUNCTIONAL ROOM
“In this New York apartment where space is at a premium, I envisaged the room as a multifunctional area right from the start, a casual family-style space where the table can be used as a desk or a workstation in the day, but also where the family could hang out, chill and eat a relaxed meal during the evening,” interior designer Shalini Misra explains. Concealed space in the banquette maximises storage, while shelving allows for displaying books and objects.
PHOTO MEL YATES
9 MAKE YOUR DESK A SHOWPIECE
Depending on the shape and angles of your home office space, a desk can be designed to fit perfectly. Australian architect Matt Gibson illustrated this idea in his project, “Writer’s Shed”, in Melbourne. “As a detached and flexible workspace, the Writer’s Shed provides an intimate private space to...reflect and recharge the imagination,” says Gibson.
PHOTO SHANNON MCGRATH
10 DON’T BE AFRAID OF A NARROW SPACE
“This space is small and narrow, and we wanted to achieve a good amount of storage while retaining a peaceful, calming feeling for a productive work environment within the home,” Nune founder Sheena Murphy says, when describing the study of this Brooklyn townhouse. “We embraced the shape of the room, which emphasises the light and the window, and which allows just enough space to pull out a chair and access the cabinet simultaneously. As with most of our interiors, we wanted it to feel like a refuge from the busy city outside, while retaining some original period features.”
www.nunenune.comPHOTO NICOLE FRANZEN
“WE EMBRACED THE SHAPE OF THE ROOM, WHICH EMPHASISES THE LIGHT AND THE WINDOW, AND WHICH ALLOWS JUST ENOUGH SPACE TO PULL OUT A CHAIR AND ACCESS THE CABINET SIMULTANEOUSLY.”
SHEENA MURPHY, NUNE FOUNDER
11 ADAPT YOUR LAYOUT
Reorganising the layout of your living room for a dedicated work area is one approach to creating a home office. Accessories such as rugs or screens can help to differentiate and separate the study from the rest of the room. In Ace Hotel New York, rooms were designed by Roman and Williams to feel more like a friend’s apartment than a typical hotel space. Here, a living room corner adorned with a rug shares the space with a large table surrounded by comfortable chairs with castors.
www.romanandwilliams.com; www.acehotel.com/newyork/PHOTO FRAN PARENTE
“A HOME OFFICE SPACE WAS PROVIDED OFF TO THE SIDE UTILISING THE BREEZEWAY SPACE WITH JUST ENOUGH ROOM TO ENABLE A FUNCTIONAL INTERNAL AREA.”
MATT GIBSON, MATT GIBSON ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN
12 USE A COMPUTER WITH A FLAT SCREEN
In this Melbourne home, Matt Gibson Architecture + Design aimed to orchestrate several visual moments within each space. “A home office space was provided off to the side utilising the breezeway space with just enough room to enable a functional internal area,” says Matt Gibson. To optimise every square metre, a computer with a flat screen was preferred while a series of mirrors gives a sense of depth.
www.mattgibson.com.auPHOTO SHANNON MCGRATH
13 ADD A SLIDING DOOR
In Auckland, a couple (with five grown children), who shuttles between New Zealand and the United States, asked Lucas Design Associates to shape a retreat as an extension of their master bedroom. “With another home office located in a different part of the home, this space was intentionally designed to not feel like an office and to function as a flexible area,” says the team. “This nook acts as a sanctuary for some of the couple’s most nostalgic items – from sentimental art and Maori artefacts to family photos. This home office, designed as an extension that can be closed off, offers space to work productively and “get away”.
14 USE PURE LINES AND A RESTRAINED COLOUR PALETTE
In this 19th-century apartment in Paris, the design duo behind Champeau & Wilde mixed old and new. Furnished with a Christian Liaigre desk and chairs and decorated with a carpet made in Belgium, the office features few colours and materials, but has clean lines, providing a calm environment that encourages focus. For studio founders Laurent Champeau and Kelli Wilde, a home “should be a place to live, not a cold space or an art gallery”.
www.champeau-wilde.comPHOTO XAVIER BEGOT
15 INSTALL SHELVING
Created by Domingos Pascali and Sarkis Semerdjian for an art and design collector, this Sao Paulo apartment comprises a working space inside the bedroom, with a desk covered in leather and made in the same wood as the headboard for a sense of seamlessness. Over the table, two shelves are ideal to place books and accessories for easy access. The black Softshell Chair by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec (for Vitra) complements this functional and beautiful office.
PHOTO RICARDO BASSETTI
TEXT KARINE MONIE