Why You Should Consider a Home Office

My family never had a home office. They weren’t really a thing when I was a kid, most families just had a desk somewhere, but that was about the extent of it. In most homes, there was usually a spot somewhere near the kitchen, preferably close to the phone, that served that function. Bill-paying was a kitchen table activity,

Home Office - Circa 1950

This desk served as my parents home office for better than thirty years. It now houses my sewing machine.

Homework wasn’t the public school obsession that it is these days. (I managed to make it all the way through high school without doing a single bit of homework at home, either doing it on the bus, in study hall, or in the two minutes between when the bell rang, and the teacher called for it.) Contrast that with my kids, who started getting homework in preschool. So the kitchen table was fine for homework, what little there was, and bill paying.

Home computers, and all their ancillary equipment, particularly the printer, were the thing that sort of made the home office a necessity, rather than merely a particular section of counter and cabinetry in the kitchen, or in the case of my family, the desk that now sits in our basement.

And even though we’ve come full circle, with minimalized lives and and paperless work environments, a strong case can be made for a home office – especially if you’re dining room is developing a Panera sort of feel.

Home Office - Circa 2010

By the time she moved to Virginia, Mom had upgraded to this fancy Eastlake home office.

Sometimes leading a minimalized, simplified life requires a lot of stuff. We have to have electric pencil sharpeners, and paper, often lots of it, and a white board, because some of us still can’t really talk coherently without a whiteboard, the modern manifestation of the back of the napkin. Cameras. Microphones. Video editing software. Enormous spreadsheets. Teleworking. Skype. Podcasting. Having these capabilities at home has helped keep us off the road, but have allowed our outside work to creep into our personal spaces. Our Chromebooks and MacBooks are great, but sometimes you need a real computer, with a real monitor (or more).

We Interrupt this Broadcast....

A home office, complete with locking door, can be valuable for those of us maintaining any semblance of a professional persona. We can’t always depend on those awkward Skype moments to turn us into internet heroes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh4f9AYRCZY]

So with that, I find it surprising that I can walk into a fairly new home, particularly one in a sub-division (by definition builder-designed), and find that the home office was obviously an afterthought, if it was ever even a thought at all. In some cases, what would have formerly been the “formal” living room has become a workspace, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes it’s a real workspace, with a door and everything, more often it’s a weird sort of catch-all space. The piano and uncomfortable, untouchable furniture of yesteryear have been removed, and replaced by a desk and a credenza.

Sometimes it’s the proper dining room that’s been forfeited, or at least the dining function has been ceded.

A strategically placed armoire, or similar piece of furniture can work, but if not properly located, familial interruptions end up being too near, while the mail ends up being too far – usually in some other room. Quite simply, convenience and calm are essential.

If you’re dealing with an existing house, a home office may in fact be a luxury. But if you’re designing a new home, or extensively remodeling an older one, you might want to slide “home office” from the “want” list to the “need” list, especially if you are running any type of business out of your home.

Coming in from the back door, there's no need to remove your boots to grab something from the office.

Thirty-five dollar salvaged door – Priceless!

Our home office was designed with mud, and ready access to the kitchen in mind. It sort of has that loading dock vibe, courtesy of the soil samples, equipment going out for repair, and Amazon Prime. The barrister bookcase, and the looming family portrait do little to counter that fact. I had always envisioned something of a Laura Ashley gentleman’s law office look, but it’s yet to be. I’ve gone as far as to have selected material for curtains, but I sort of like the view, and besides, I’m more of a fabric hoarder than anything else. In the meantime, it’s sort of a combination warehouse and sun room, which isn’t too bad.

(For more on how the office fits into our overall home design, check out https://farmlanddream.com/how-we-designed-our-house/

Measuring 9′ x 13′, our office has two separate work areas – the idea of sharing a workspace is appalling to me. So we have his and hers two-drawer filing cabinets, with almost matching lengths of Lowe’s countertop. Unattractive to be sure, but highly functional. It’ll do until we get real cabinets made.

Our entire house looks like the "before" pictures.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t clean this all up before I took this, sad truth is I did. This is as good as it gets for now.

I adore the idea of a paperless office, but if that is to ever be, I’d have to train about twenty people, including my husband, and that’s just not going to happen. Guys who use flip phones are not about to give up their carbon paper. For my part, I can file a receipt faster than I can scan one, and when it comes to invoicing, paper invoices always work.

And while we call it an office, several real estate appraisers have been insistent it’s a den. I’m guessing that’s a conditioned behavior on their parts, since anything that smacks of being a home business may draw the unwanted attention of zoning boards or HoAs. It’s no big deal in our area, but I guess it matters in some locations.

Taking a cue from the appraisers, even if you don’t use the space as an office, having a room that can function as a dedicated workspace for complicated projects, serve as an exercise room, be a library, or TV room, or even a guest room, can help make your home more practical, as well as more beautiful.

If you’re interested in more of the antics and fiascos we create and endure, check out our social feeds.


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