Office Floor Plans

It seems our excitement for the plans that we’ve been cooking up for the showhouse office has spilled over to our own office. Well, that and the fact that ours is looking pretty sad lately, having recently pilfered both its armchair and Expedit for the nursery. It doesn’t help that our chalkboard still says “Merry Christmas” on it. So basically, yeah, this office screams “I’ve got my ish together.”

We’re excited to be thinking about the office because it’s one of our favorite full-of-raw-potential spaces in the house (so much space! so much light!). And with the baby’s impending arrival (six weeks!) we’re feeling the urge to consolidate our business life so it’s less likely to infiltrate family time. You know, like making “no more laptops on the diner table” rules. Another example of our completely not-contained work spread is that all of my accounting stuff currently lives in a kitchen cabinet because my desk wall lacks storage (but apparently not holiday cheer).

This is a room where we’ll skip the Phase 1 stuff and jump right to Phase 2 (like we’ve done in the sunroom, for instance) because it doesn’t require the amount of planning/saving/splurging that a kitchen or bathroom makeover does (no pricey appliances, new counters & tile, etc) and we’re fairly confident that we can end up with a space that works for us for the long-haul (the kitchen & bathrooms tend to take more percolation time – we’re still changing our minds everyday). Note: There’s more on how/why/when we tend to do Phase 1 updates here.

We actually think this space has a ton of potential to not only be functional, but to be beautiful, thanks to the fact that it’s one of the most light-filled rooms in our house, and it has that pretty bay window in the back.

We want the bay window to remain a focal point, since it’s so nicely centered in the room – but we’ve thought it through, and officially nixed the idea of adding a built-in bench seat because:

  • we don’t see a bench seat as being super functional for an office
  • the window is actually really shallow so it would be a very narrow seat
  • it might get in the way of our current Christmas tree spot (is that really my third X-mas mention? Geez) – although I’m sure we could find another tree spot if necessary, so the tree isn’t a deal breaker on its own

But what the room giveth with the bay window, it taketh away elsewhere. As in, we’ve got some other challenges to work around, like the less-than-centered doorway on the other side of the room. I guess we can only have so much symmetry in our lives…

The front window wall is also great for light, but not so great for furniture placement. Since the windows are so close to the floor, they really make it hard to put anything on that side of the room without blocking a lot of light (and making for a strange view from the street).

With those challenges in mind, Sherry and I brainstormed a list of priorities for our office. Some are just carried over from our last office, but some are new given the larger, more light-filled space.

  • Two Desks: Duh, right? Sherry usually works at the kitchen table (more on that here), but we’d love to create a dedicated space in here for her to really spread out. And my small parson’s table could definitely be improved by more space and more drawers. So there’s a lot we can do to improve on this.
  • Storage: We don’t have a ton of paperwork, but we’d love to expand our file storage. Mostly to bring in some of the stuff that we have shoved into other rooms – like tax documents and side gig paperwork – rather than having that stuff spread randomly around the house.
  • A Big Meeting / Craft Table: We don’t have a ton of meetings here, but we’ve had enough recently (mostly showhouse related) that we’d like to stop having them in our kitchen or dining room. Plus, it would serve the double function of an area for completing/shooting smaller projects (with all the natural light in this room, it’d be a great spot for photography).
  • Whiteboard / Pinboard / Magnetboard: We want a nice big wall where we can organize our to-do list, calendar, future project ideas, etc, etc. where we can both see everything. Right now we both keep ourselves organized on our own phones and notebooks, so some communal organization is needed to get us both in the same loop again. We’re not sure exactly what this looks like yet, but we’re already brainstorming a few options that we could implement.
  • Doors: Partly because this room seems made for some nice french doors, but also because it would be great to get some added soundproofing in here – especially during conference calls or other times that one of us really needs to concentrate.
  • Kid-Friendly Space: It’s been nice to have Clara’s drawing desk in here (so we have the option to “work” together during less intense moments of the day) – so we’d like to create a flexible little area that works for smaller kids but also can transition to work for bigger kids (so it’s not something that we outgrow in a few years).

With priorities set, we started floor planning (I took a few new apps for a spin to plan the room, so I’ll share more on those in another post). Here’s a rough representation of the current furniture plan. Yes, it’s pretty sad.

We started by just expanding on our current layout to include the things we wanted and bring things up to scale for the room. We’ve liked having the table centered in the bay window, so maybe just upgrading to a bigger table and some curtains could work? And then we could wrap an L-shaped desk around that corner to give us some built-in desk storage (kinda like our last office) and make room for both of us to sit.

But we weren’t crazy about the corner-desk in that option since it seemed kinda cramped. And since that’s where we’d likely be spending most of our time, it felt weird to not give it more priority in the room – and to take advantage of all the windows by actually getting to see out of at least one of them.

Then we went crazy and tried making the desks “the stars” of the room by keeping them symmetrical with the bay window. The most logical version of this was two separate desks sort of flanking the window. But even that attempt wasn’t very logical because it put one desk right in front of a too-low window (so you’d see the side of the desk from the street) – and it also would require us weaving around the big table every time we wanted to get to our seats.

So next we tried mocking up an idea that was actually our original concept for this space.  It includes office storage along the entire back wall, with desk areas that are integrated into them. Here’s our inspiration picture, complete with a friendly looking feline.

We originally discarded this idea because we thought it’d screw up the symmetry of the window – which was something we really liked about the room. But as we played around with the floor plan, we realized we could maintain the symmetry by putting something in the bottom right corner too, so the bay window still feels centered. Plus this plan would leave the middle of the room pretty open for a big table, which we could move around – or even move completely out if the need arose. We also could move our laptops to the meeting/craft table to get a nice view out the window if we ever feel too wall-locked at our desks (Sherry currently unplugs and works at the kitchen table everyday, so that shouldn’t be too much of an adjustment).

Update: We’re getting some questions about where the Barnacle will go, but Clara’s desk actually has two chairs and is long enough for two kids (we’ve even had four kids at it if we pull it away from the wall) so it’ll accommodate the bun as well as the bean.

Update #2: We’re also getting questions about window glare from working along that back wall, but John has worked there for the past 9 months without an issue (the sun streams in but the room is wide enough for it to hit the floor about 5′ from his chair – so it’s not up at screen level).

We’re still letting the concept simmer in our heads, but we’re fairly confident that we’ll start heading in that last layout’s direction since it feels like it makes the most sense for the way we work. Although “start heading” involves painting a whole lot of blue trim first (sixty six window mullions to be exact). And it takes four coats… so that’s a whole lot of painting.

What’s on your priority list when it comes to a home office? Do you have a desk tucked into the corner of your den (we totally did that in our first house)? Is there a little work area in your kitchen with a laptop hookup? Or do you have a dedicated home office? Does anyone have work stuff in the bedroom? Growing up Sherry’s dad had a computer and all of his paperwork in there, but that doesn’t seem to be something most people do anymore.

Comments

  1. Maya says

    I love the L-desk option!! Maybe I’m just not seeing it, but it still seems like the long desks will crowd the trim of the bay window even if you balance things out. It wouldn’t be so appealing to have a long room with a bay window at the end that was no wider than the bay, right? I get your point about being crowded at the desk, but I love the way that design feels open and lets the windows really shine. I can’t wait to see whatever you do, though!

    • says

      That’s a good point! That bay window is actually nearly 9′ wide, so we hope it won’t feel too cramped (we thought the corner desk scenario would lead to feeling a lot more cramped) but we’ll have to tape things off to make sure it doesn’t turn the room into some sort of alley-way!

      xo
      s

    • Sara Richins says

      I think you can avoid crowding the window by keeping the shelving low instead of to the ceiling. I’m imagining only two or three tiers, leaving space above for colorful art to make use of all that light. The final plan also leaves a nice space on the wall by the doorway to have calendaring/cooperative planning space. With the right size and a nice frame, it can help balance the off-centered door.

    • Estrella says

      The L-desk option is my favourite, too. If feels open and leaves a lot of space for standing in front of your common organization board. And since you said that you don’t have a lot of paperwork, you wouldn’t lack storage.

  2. says

    My number one need is to be located near electrical outlets. I live in a circa 1940 home where the outlets are limited!

    • says

      Such a smart thing to think about! We have outlets in every wall and corner except for that space between the two low windows. Our last house wins for outlets though – they were every 18″ in the sunroom! Seriously, we laughed that they were spaced “one Burger length” apart.

      xo
      s

  3. AmyJ. says

    Is there overhead lighting? Is that in the plan, or is the natural light during the day/commitment to not work at night the way you’re going?

    • says

      There’s actually not any overhead lighting in here (or any of the bedrooms) so we’d love to add some. Maybe a great pendant floating over the table in the middle of the room? Right now we have a few lamps, but I miss being able to flip a switch on the wall and illuminate a room.

      xo
      s

    • says

      We have a living room with no overhead lighting either. What is with that? Must have been a design trend in the 80’s I guess!

    • says

      Totally! I think “moody table lamps” were the rage, but I just love the convenience of flipping a switch – and overhead lights (like pendants and chandeliers) are so pretty these days!

      xo
      s

    • Lindsay says

      Overhead lights are often left out of the design to save money on the light fixture/additional wiring. Usually in their place is an electrical outlet that is controlled by a light switch. So in theory you plug a lamp into that outlet and can flip on the switch for the lamp when you enter the room. But I agree, what a pain! I need to install some overhead lights in my house too!

    • Kate says

      Ha! No overhead lighting in my 90’s ranch, either. Instead of being “on trend” though, it’s definitely just “cheap.” :) :)

    • Lisa says

      Love it too and can’t wait to see how it comes together.

      Regarding the window mullions… how old are your windows in the house? I can’t remember that detail being talked about. But if they’re old and inefficient, man, I would be so tempted to just replace those suckers instead of painting!!!!

    • says

      This house is a lot newer than our last two (they were 50s/60s and this is late 70s/early 80s) so the inspection said they were in good shape and not really wasting much energy at all, so it makes more sense to keep them. I actually love that they’re real wood (not plastic) and they have those smaller panes – they’re just a HUGE PAIN to paint! Haha!

      xo
      s

    • bfish says

      For Lisa — I think John and Sherry would have to save up for a LONG time to replace all of the windows in their large home. To buy wood windows of the same quality (but presumably more energy efficient as they would be newer) would cost close to $1K/regular window and more for bays — and that’s not including installation. People, keep your older wood, true divided-light windows unless they are horribly busted and/or inefficient! The crappy vinyl kind they advertise on TV for less than $200 wouldn’t fly in the Petersiks’ hood either — don’t know if you have convenants but even if not, you’d make your neighbors really mad if you replaced with anything less attractive than what you have now.

  4. says

    OH, I would definetly go for the wall-to-wall option!
    I look forward to see the end result of this project ;)

    • says

      We have a plan for the message board/bulletin board area, but it’s just sort of half-baked – so we’re going to try mapping things out and taping them off to see if it’ll work in the next week or two.

      xo
      s

  5. says

    but you still don’t get to look out the windows with that latest layout, which is something you didn’t like about the L desk right? could you have the desk on that wall, but instead of built-in/attached, floating out a bit so you can sit facing the windows? or is the space between the wall and the beginning of the bay window just too narrow for that to work?

    i also really love the flow of the room w/ the L desk; i agree it’s sort of a shame not to face the window, but you still have it in the room for light/ambiance.

    (also as i was reading this, where you wrote “small parson’s desk” i totally read “small person’s desk” at first and thought, WHOA did he just say that?! had to reread to make sure. haha.)

    • says

      So funny about the small parson’s desk! As for the window thing, you’re right. We’re still technically facing a wall, but we both have a window to the right of us (the big bay) as opposed to facing that corner which felt the furthest away from those other light sources. Back when we had offices with windows they were rarely right in front of us, but if they were to the side of us, we still could easily see out of them, so I guess that’s what we thought we’d gain vs. being in that corner? Still could completely change our minds though!

      xo
      s

    • Christy says

      I read it as “small person’s desk” too and actually laughed out loud at myself when I figured out what it really said.

    • Lisa says

      Chairs on wheels make it real easy to spin and gaze out the window. But I love your avocado green chairs too much to really suggest those ugly office chairs on wheels!

  6. Meredith says

    This has nothing to do with anything, but I’m loving that plant in the corner! Is it real or fake? If it’s real, what kind is it? I want one! :)

    • says

      Thanks Meredith! It’s real, but a cheap-o from Ikea. It’s one of those fiddle leaf figs. We hear they’re tempermental, but he has been really easy to keep alive so far – although it has only been about a month so the jury is still out…

      xo
      s

  7. Christy says

    I love the last layout. I work from home 2 days/week and sit at a desk in my bedroom. I would love to have a dedicated office room but that won’t happen for years (if ever). I can’t wait to see the room without the blue.

  8. says

    I love the wall-to-wall option. It’s a nod to your long desks in your second home, which were absolutely lovely. Plus, if you held off on french doors for a bit with that desk placement someone who just entered your house wouldn’t see everything on your desk when they walked through because the door placement would still keep the focus on the big bay window.

    http://jax-and-jewels.blogspot.com

  9. says

    Love that 3rd option– that is what I envisioned when I looked at your space, as it seems the most flexible, practical AND good-looking! :)

    As for your questions, we have a dedicated office space and, as of 3 years ago, a No Work In The Bedroom rule. The bedroom is for bedroom, er, activities. Including SLEEPING. I find that our No Fouling The Nest rule enables us to enjoy the bedroom activities MUCH better.