create a home office

Changing a Guest Room into a Home Office

QUESTION:

We have a guest bedroom in our home that is lovely; however, it only gets used three weeks out of a year. I really would like to have a study and am not sure how to set the room up. This room is directly across from the great room and I would like them to relate. I would appreciate some ideas for developing this room into a more useable space.

ANSWER:

Since “Home Office” is all about function, you have already taken the first important step in analyzing a space by considering the use of the space as well as the function. The original room worked well for the week-end guest with the queen size bed, but did not leave enough room for the much needed work area.

The goal was to convert this existing room into a highly efficient home office by taking advantage of the spaces available. As it was also important to provide a nice area for reading, listening to music as well as guest sleeping, we suggested placing the work surfaces along the perimeter of the rooms.

This allowed enough available floor space to install a nice sleeper sofa for the few times guests will be using the room and also provided cozy seating to be used on a daily basis.

NEW ENTRANCE

Interior Designers are always looking for new, creative twists for existing spaces. As our design team began to develop the plan, we suggested removing the one existing, bedroom door which lead into the great room, widening and reframing the opening by an additional 2’6” for a total opening of 5’ wide.

This enabled us to create a gracious entry into the new study and add some dynamite doors while allowing the two spaces to flow and compliment each other.

To add additional drama and interest to these spaces, two custom leaded glass doors were designed and hinged to open into the great room. Whether in the open or closed position, these doors bring in a wonderful element of interest, color, and design to not only the study but also the great room as we hinged the doors to swing into the great room for all to enjoy.

CREATING THE OFFICE SPACE

As long as we were into a little sheetrock tear-out and new paint, the decision was made to remove the closet doors and eliminate the short, wing walls. This “new-found space” worked well for developing a computer workstation with upper bookcases and enclosed upper cabinets for storage. (See revised plan.)

An additional workstation was added under the view window that enables this office to be used by two family members at the same time while keeping each area independent.

An upper bookcase could easily be added to this area on the wall space just left of the window which duplicates the amount of storage and work surface.

By using just a few design changes, the space has become very compact but efficient and with a wealth of practical features which is especially important with the ever changing demands of the modern business world.

GETTING THE RIGHT HOME OFFICE SET-UP FOR YOUR NEEDS

When investing in any item for the home, not only think about current use but also anticipate and plan for future needs. Home offices can often begin with a simple need to escape from family activities while paying bills, and this office can grow into a highly used area by spouses catching up on work, children playing computer games or preparing a school paper.

Home offices often turn into the main office for a home business or a retreat haven for the newly retired.

Make a list of needs for the present office as well as for the projected use of this space during the next six years. List how the space will be used and what family members will be using the space together or at separate times. Include in your list all equipment that you will be using such as computer, copier, printer, scanner, etc., and decide if it is acceptable for you to have this equipment displayed in the open or prefer to have the equipment behind closed doors when not in use.

As equipment will change over the years in type, style and dimensions, keep your dimensions and space flexible.

DIMENSIONS AND DETAILS OF WORK SPACES

As a general rule, the depth of the worktop should be a minimum of 24” deep. The main work area could increase to a comfortable 30” deep for spreading out papers if your room space allows this. The desk work-height should be at 29” to 30” from the finished floor. If a pencil drawer or computer tray is to be installed, be sure the thickness does not exceed 4” high or the legs and knees will be crowded.

With the actual knee space, I recommend keeping the minimum width of the open knee space at 27” or more if possible.

Upper cabinets over the work area should be hung 18” to 24” above the finished work counter. I prefer to keep the open space at 24” above the worktop and add a task light with a light rail under the upper cabinet. This task light gives additional, quality lighting for the actual work area. The upper shelves should have adjustable shelves when possible, and a combination of doors and open shelves on the upper cabinets is an excellent idea.

The doors help conceal items such as copy paper, note books and items that are not that attractive.

PURCHASING THE FURNITURE FOR THE HOME OFFICE

There are several different options for obtaining the furniture for your home office. I would encourage you to keep quality in the forefront, as this will be an investment that will certainly perform well for years to come.

  • Consider purchasing one of the wonderful collections of manufactured home-office furniture. There is a great variety of styles and wood types such as cherry, walnut, maple or oak. The details on these pieces are very attractive and the quality pieces come with all the amenities such as pull-out shelves for printers and scanners, file cabinets, grommets for cords, task lights, fabric corkboard for tackables, keyboard trays, pencil drawers and power tracks that include phone jack outlets, switched electrical outlets and a high speed data “out” port to name a few.
  • Cabinet shops (whether manufactured or custom) can also provide the parts and pieces for compiling a well functioning workstation. If choosing this direction, maintain the design goal of having these pieces look like furniture pieces and not kitchen cabinets.

Select a companion wood, use furniture base and crown moldings and stagger the height of the upper cabinets so the finished project exceeds your expectations.

Home offices are here to stay, and this is where form as well as function should play an important part. Don’t forget to select a great accent wall color, soft panels of window covers, dynamic artwork, and a lush leather chair for reading and retreating in the corner of your new home office/study.