Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Room of the Month - The Office

One year at Christmas time, we received an interesting update from some family friends that I will never forget.  While explaining what each member in the family had been doing during the previous year, this stay at home mom wrote about herself that she was "serving as the CEO of (insert family last name) Enterprises."  That made me giggle a bit thinking of how cute it was that she thought so highly of her job as stay-at-home mom to give herself at title.  But as I gnawed on it more, I realized that this woman had a firm grasp on her reality -- she really is charge of a bustling enterprise within her own four walls.

Search Merriam Webster online and you will find a plethora of definitions for "office" -- most of them politically related. And quite frankly, most of them very boring.  You've got the usual "function", "service", "duty" and "divine position" that rank at the top of the pecking order. Followed by the fifth place definition of what we majority of everyday folk regard as important "office: a place where a particular kind of business is transacted or a service is supplied; the directing headquarters of an enterprise or organization; the place a professional conducts business".  Now, you may not be a financial tycoon on Wall Street like my friend in the story above, but you are in charge of some sort of business transactions in your life -- be it the checkbook or the utilities -- and your workplace should be tailored to meet the needs of your "organization." 

I adore the airiness and open feel of this office from "The Devil Wears Prada" - fresh.

Here are some thought-provoking  questions you should ask yourself before getting started:

1) What will you be doing in there?  
Whether it's bookkeeping, bills or surfing the internet, make a detailed list of what will go on in your office.  It may include a place to do our job outside the home once the kids go to bed or it may mean sharing workspace for homework.  Once your list is complete, assign a percentage of time to each task directly onto the paper.  This will allow you to see what your office will be used for in your home to better allocate resources (in other words, it will tell you what to spend the majority of your money on during the project). 

Bills, homework, computer games, taxes, outside job are just a few examples of home office space usage.

For the Moss family, the office is a place to do my design homework, create masterpieces for my clients, keep up with my books, pay bills, manage budget, check email and store our family computer.  Elementary school homework and art projects sometimes find their way into my office as well.  All in one concise, friendly place in our home.

2) What supplies and items do you need?
Certain activities require certain supplies.  Here comes the list again....(can you tell that I am way into list making?).  Pencils, paper, printer needs, reference books and file folders are a solid start to your office needs.  Homework supplies are also a necessity for our home office - rulers, pens, markers, crayons, lined paper, construction paper,etc.  Additionally, there may be items that you need to complete your work from home.  Jot all those items down so that your storage needs become visual immediately for you.

For my work I need access to my fabric samples like above.  What you do need access to?

In my case I need all the basic office supplies.  Fabric books and design books also play an important role in my life.  They require lots of table space to spread them out so a table separate and apart from my desk is vital to the Moss Office.  

3) How should I store all these items?
Utilizing your list from the above, start figuring out what you will need for storage to make your office tidy.  Those items with direct reach access should be ones that you use on a frequent basis - daily or every few days.  Items with limited access should be ones that get used on a less frequent basis -- maybe even weekly or monthly.  Bookshelves are another item to consider for your office.  A desk with drawers is a no-brainer for some while others prefer a more tailored look to their desks.  Filing systems are essential for any home office.  And then the final decision - where and how to warehouse all these basics. 

Depending what tools you need, you may need bookshelves and basket to store items.

For my predicament, I require oodles of storage.  As in the office above, fabric books and design books all need a home where I am able to see them quickly.  The items should be readily available without having to open and close too many containers.  Client files, supplies and personal information should be in reach but not within view.  In this instance, hidden is good. 

4)  Who will be using the space?
Knowing who the primary user of the office will be is the primary driver.  Sometimes our offices are used by many people.  Other times they are dedicated space for one person in the family.  

Maybe you need to design a space for two if your office is shared....

For example, in my space I am the primary user. 90% of the time it is used by me with school and my design business.  The other 10% is used by my family.  My husband might need to do a quick check of a spreadsheet or print out of boarding pass.  My kids sometimes do art and homework in here, so I have a cabinet with school items (pencils, crayons and other art supplies) just for them.  In my instance, I plan for the family first and give the remaining space for myself.  

5) Lighting
If I have said this once in this blog, I have said it a million times  -- do not overlook the value of lighting!  Lighting provides a boost in productivity and enjoyment as well to any space - office or not.  I am all about the view so typically I chose to place the desk where the user can see out the nearest window.  Without a window, place your desk in front of something enjoyable to look at while working.  A dazzling painting, motivational quote or photograph provides much needed visual interest. Can you guess what I am going to say next?  Make a list. 

Do you want to look out your window?  Need a lamp on your desk?  A mirror is great to add refection and make it took bigger...

6) Furniture and the like...
In addition to the needs above, scan your original list to come up with furniture for your space.  Additional seating for clients, team members or family members may be necessary.  Also think about how to cover ugly computer cords, shelving, floor coverings and the incidentals.  

Tory Burch with team members in her office space as featured in Elle Magazine.

7) Color
Whoever will take advantage of the office the most will get to choose the color.  Our home office is blue, brown and white.  Not only do the colors promote productivity for me but also my kids.  However, if I were to do an office for hubbie it would be more masculine with some touches of his accomplishments, awards and favorite hobbies. 

Designer Kelly Wearstler's office....

8) Make it your own.
Represent!  Whatever you do in the home office, make it personalized to you.  It doesn't have to be boring but at the same time you may want calm.  Pick out one item in the room that truly represents who you are and build from there -- could be a lamp or a paint color.  Most of all have fun!  

This is far from boring...
...or perhaps yellow is more "you"....

Or you would love to display those favorite pop culture images you have been saving, such as the case of this office designed by Mary McDonald

With endless options, you can get overwhelmed easily.  Stick to your list and allow yourself some flava with a personal touch or two.  Draw inspiration from varied sources and go with your gut.  Form and function are most essential - no matter how beautiful the wallpaper is in your abode.  And remember, you are the CEO of something.  A home office is not out of the question. 

Back to homework at Moss Enterprises, 


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