Room by Room: One in a series of articles by Midland on cabinetry design
Not so long ago, the home office was an emerging trend, its design pieced together as dictated by the home’s floor plan and early, bulky computer equipment. Perhaps it shared space in the family room or spare bedroom; or it was cleverly squeezed into a closet or alcove large enough for a slim desk and chair.
Wherever it found an anchor, this makeshift working space no doubt served its purpose more through the sheer determination of its occupant than what truly drives productivity: organization, comfort and, importantly, a sense of place — the atmosphere and character that defines a room and inspires its usage.
Getting Down to Business
In general, a home office is a room that should be attractive, but not distract from the task at hand — getting the job done. Among the design criterion:
- Ideally, the desk should be situated in a way that allows for easy access to equipment, file cabinets and needed work surfaces, even if that means placing the desk at an angle.
- A window near the desk is a bonus, in terms of providing a soothing view, but careful attention needs to be paid to how that natural light — as well as installed interior lighting — affects computer-screen viewing.
- And there is nothing more distracting, and unattractive, than the mess of wires and cables that still haunt the home office, wireless-ready or not. Midland takes care of that unsightly problem by bundling the wires into covered troughs that carry the wiring unseen from source to outlet.
- Another trick: When the desk is flush against the wall, we often include our “hidden” knee-level cabinets, with doors, for storing, and hiding, things like computer hard drives and wiring.
The most coveted home office design is the one that combines an office with a home library.
Our favorite classic office-library combinations, pictured at right and above, illustrate how we approach the bookcase as a work of functional art. As shown here, the use of rich ribbon-grain African mahogany sets an elegant tone and establishes a strong sense of place that is carried throughout, from the inset-raised cabinet doors and panels to the sleek crown molding where bookcase and ceiling meet.
Adding character to this room: the classic arched and recessed back panel, the outline of which seamlessly follows the curve of the rolled fascia.
Note that while in this example a painting graces the back panel, it could easily be outfitted with the most common office accessory, the flat-screen TV.
The Contemporary Home Office
While the above home office is an example of traditional library-office styling, in a more contemporary home office we might choose clean-lined, square-edged floating shelves, rather than the more formal rolled or molded styling. And in place of lighting fixtures, we might outfit the shelving with modern LED down lighting for function and mood.
The contemporary office also lends itself to the addition of our work space-worthy counter tops which follow the perimeter of the bookcase and separate the shelving above from the cabinets below. The counter top might be crafted from the same wood used for the bookcase, or we might choose a complementary high-pressure laminate for durability.
And just as the crown molding at the ceiling of the more formal office offsets the room’s overall styling, in a contemporary office — especially those with the work-space counter tops — what exists at floor level is apropos to the room’s overall look and purpose: We tend to use toe-kick detailing at the bottom of the cabinets, a slight recess that protects the homeowner’s toes from being stubbed when using the counter tops. The detail also gives the cabinets a standalone furniture look, which can make a room appear more spacious.