One of the challenges in maintaining a home office is clarifying the difference between work and play. Should the office be used only for work? Or should it be as much a part of family life as the family room?
Bob and Nicole Springer, whose firm Spot On Square contracts with furniture manufacturers in Michigan to produce a wide range of modern furnishings for children’s rooms and, lately, for adults too, opt for the former—within moderation.
They do let their three young children amble through the office, and let them doodle along the bottom of the dry erase board that the Springers use to brainstorm ideas.
But, in line perhaps with the 21st century’s emphasis on working from home, the kids have their own computers and workspaces in their bedrooms. “We try to encourage them to work in that space,” Nicole says.
The Bumgarners make no attempt to separate work and play in their home office-entertainment room—perhaps because, unlike the Springers, their home office is not their primary place of business.
“What we wanted to do, we wanted to keep the family in the same room at least,” Christine Bumgarner says, “even if we’re working on different things.” While she and her husband are working, her son is often nearby, developing video games.
“So it actually unifies the family in a way,” she says with a laugh, “even if we’re not talking to each other.”
Photos: David Toerge
Tips for Designing the Perfect Home Office
• Careful planning pays off. “For me,” Rebecca Wiant says, “I spent hours and weeks and months thinking it through and rethinking it through, and drawing it out and redrawing it out.”
• An easy solution, says general contractor Henry Calvert of Calvert Ventures, whose home office is in the garage of his San Mateo Eichler, is to buy modular office furniture and install it yourself or hire a contractor. Wireless routers reduce the need for wiring. If wiring is needed, walls can be opened to keep the look “tidy and clean.”
• Barbara Eandi, who lives in an Eichler in Castro Valley, loves her Cube in a Box (cubeinabox.com), a stylish rectangle of wood-laminate and aluminum that unfolds miraculously into a self-contained pod of an office.
• Separate business items from personal items—even in a room that handles both. Nicole Springer handles her business and personal affairs in her home office, but keeps business paperwork in different containers than personal paperwork.
• Cut clutter. Morgan Jenkins reorganizes her office every three months “because clutter can happen very fast.”
• Keep wiring and office equipment out of sight.
• Consider a minimalist look. “It produces a sense of calmness,” Nicole Springer says, “which is especially important when you have a home business and three kids running around.”