Remember the days in which the home office was that barren little room off the garage that got very little love? There was the leatherbound encyclopedia set ensconced in a laminate bookcase, complete with a matching laminate desk and a battered office chair? Occasionally, you’d catch the scent of motor oil.
Well, today’s home office has come a ways from those days. In part, that’s because technology today is light and lean, allowing us to transform any corner of our homes into an office with ease. It’s also because more of us are actually using the space, and not just to pay bills on Sunday evenings. Enter the home office of 2014.
First and foremost, today’s home office exudes personality. It’s easy to do in a new paperless environment. Fewer of us have books that need shelving or stacks of papers to file. So out with the bookcases and files!
Above, check out a modernist office in Palm Springs that runs very efficiently with a simple table, a comfortable chair and a good light. What helps with the sense of light and ease in the space is the wall-mounted lamp which saves on desk space.
Today’s home office can take on the style of the rest of your home. And it can also hide in plain sight! (Thanks to laptops). Take the office above. Actually, it’s is just a corner of an industrial loft. It doesn’t stand out as a home office because it’s simply a desk on wheels accompanied by a vintage office chair. Industrial-style ceiling lamps complete the look, without a lot of fuss or to-do.
Below is another home office (actually a corner of a room) that flows seamlessly in style with the rest of the home. Part of the coolness are the seating choices. Instead of the large, overbearing office chair, we see a molded acrylic chair. The Jacobsen egg chair plays wonderfully against the organic forms of the desk chair. We sincerely hope it belongs to either a graphic designer or a jeans manufacturer!
Do you hate that feeling of being stuck inside having to work on a beautiful day? In the home office below, you can work and still feel as if you’re enjoying the outdoors. Again, notice the simplicity.
Feel like you need more of a “real” office? There are some traditional offices, with shelves and file cabinets that still offer a lot of style. In the office below, there are shelves available for books, a small file cabinet for desk supplies, a cubby hole for printers and modems, and even a television which can stand in as a larger monitor when necessary. True, everything is much reduced in size from the mega-desks of yesteryear. And that’s a plus in our book.
What else should you consider when setting up a home office?
- If you can, go for natural views. According to psychologists a window on trees, a gurgling brook or some other bit of nature helps make you feel less stressed. If you don’t have a window, try adding a plant.
- Use convertible furnishings. In other words, choose work surfaces that can be easily rearranged to suit whatever your current need is.
- Put some thought into the art and colors. The color of the walls, the pattern of the rugs, the wall art, all contribute to a sense of well-being in your space. If your office feels cozy and welcoming, you’re more apt to work well in that space.
In Panama, Casis Architects have built four residences in the Playa Vida Residences to meet an unusual requirement.
They must have timeless beauty.
So the architects work from the theory of “La Idea Construida” of the Spanish architect Alberto Camplo Baeza, who exemplifies eternal beauty in architecture by taking light seriously as a construction element.
Luxury and elegance is explored throughout in the simplest of spaces, all beautifully lit.
The architects paint with light.
Direct unfiltered daylight is seen through a frame that itself diffuses light bathing it from the side.
The deliberate placement of light achieves a serene and eternal quality.
The tropical setting is an advantage, with its light in different qualities and quantities.
At the entrance, a soaring outdoor atrium shelters a stand of palm trees, and in its formal architecture suggests a Victorian conservatory.
This amazing four-storey niche for the mature trees becomes the defining image seen from the street.
A separate dialogue with gravity is created with indoor/outdoor spaces hung within the overarching roof frame.
The architecture is careful, formal; treating both light and gravity as basic construction elements.
Filtered light glides through the weight of stone.
Timeless beauty? Yes.
Architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture creates a tree house effect for a family home perched above the Costa Rica rainforest.
To access the glorious ocean views, the home is perched high above the tree canopy.
On the steep site, this sort of pole construction barely disturbs the forest floor, which was important to the client and the architect.
The resulting design has a wonderful Swiss Family Robinson appeal – it is more like a secret tree house hideout than a family home.
This treetop hideout quality is emphasized by the steeply angled supporting columns and angled-up roofs.
Both angles also reinforce the sense of looking out from an open yet protected space.
The house is made up of three consecutive cabins with a linking outdoor corridor in front.
The interior and the exterior is all merged into one single platform launching ground above the rainforest, with bi-folding shutter doors that are very rarely if ever closed.
From this amazing perch, the family home has a real feeling of warmth and shelter.
The master bedroom embraces the ocean views.
Locally harvested bamboo lines a back passageway connecting the childrens’ bedrooms.
Accessed along the back bamboo walkway, the childrens’ bathrooms are colored in a traditional green stucco.
These bathrooms face and reflect the jungle behind the house.
Bamboo is also used to make these beautifully crafted sliding doors, using local construction techniques.
Rainwater is harvested from the roof and returned to the under forest allowed to grow beneath the house.
Unlike some of the neighboring homes, Casa Flotanta is is an ecologically sensitive house that sits lightly on the land.
In 2013, Villa Fendi sold for $14 million, breaking a record for the Venetian Islands.
The sedately beautiful house was designed by rGlobe for the grandson of the founders of Fendi, the Italian fashion house.
The garden side of the house faces the ocean, here suggested by a view through to the pool.
The huge glass case above the garages has a surprising purpose. It serves as both entry (via elevator) and – in front – an occasional guest bedroom.
So it is a curiously exposed room to be a guest bedroom.
To get to the main part of the house, one steps out into the open air.
This entry leads right past a bathroom, that has a wonderful open view but lacks privacy.
Perhaps the window can be opaqued when needed?
At this height, the extended view past the guest bedroom is largely of the neighboring tree canopy.
On the ocean side, the master bedroom repeats the extension of the guest bedroom, but it cantilevers out over the garden pool.
In fact, as the plan shows, this echo is not an exact recreation, just a hint of the shape.
Although this pure glass extension is a beautiful space, knowing that it is a guest bedroom combined with an elevator stairwell from the garage below takes away some of the charm.
As does this surprisingly dreary kitchen.
For $14 million, this seems surprisingly lacking.
When you’re picking out that new couch, floor or kitchen countertop, do you ever stop to ask yourself: hey, wait, how easy is this to keep clean? If you don’t, you should, because the ability to keep a spic and span home will not only lift your spirits on a daily basis, (when you get to come home to a clean home), but it will also extend the life of your furniture and finishings. And the easier it is to keep your home clean, the less time you’ll have to spend cleaning! So you see, it’s worth some attention.
1. Choose flooring that’s easy to keep clean — concrete or hardwood floors.
First choice, in my opinion, is hardwood, which is simple to sweep and dust or damp mop when needed, as long as it’s got a protective sealer on top. As hardwood floors age, they just get better. Plus, they’re a classic and work well with all types of furniture styles. But for those worried about scratches or the potential for water damage, concrete has to be the way to go. It may not be quite as comfy as hardwood, (it can be hard on the knees and joints) but when it’s stained with a nonporous protective sealer it’s a snap to sweep or mop and impervious to spills. Another great choice can be tile, especially with so many great tile choices today, including wood-look tile.
Clean home no-no: wall-to-wall carpet. It’s impossible to keep really clean, and is a horror for allergy sufferers or those with children and pets.
2. Choose washable paint.
This is an absolute necessity for anyone with pets or children. When the inevitable marks appear on the wall, you’ll be able to whip out a sponge and restore the wall to its pristine state. And for those wanting to try something a little bit different look into vinyl wall coverings that mimic grass cloth, silk and linen. These coverings are easy to scrub down and they hide marks.
Clean home no-no: cheap, unwashable paint.
3. Opt for leather or eco-leather.
Leather and eco leather furniture hold one huge advantage over cloth upholstery. If you want, you can sponge it off every day. Try that with a fabric chair! When opting for leather, choose darker colors, such as tan, chocolate or taupe, as white and ivory can stain.
Clean home no-no: couches and chairs upholstered in nubby white silk.
4. If you do fabrics, choose microfiber or slipcovers.
There are a myriad of microfiber fabrics out there that repel dirt and stains. These fabrics can look fresh and new for years with a little care, and they don’t have to be that boring taupe microfiber you see everywhere. If you don’t get microfiber, consider contract-grade fabrics that have been treated to be stain repellant.
Clean home no-no: untreated fabrics like velvet that attract pet hair and soak up liquids.
5. Avoid countertops and surfaces that stain easily —- Carrera marble, we’re talking about you!
If you’re looking for a countertop that won’t show stains, that are hygienic and easy to clean, you have choices! Solid surface countertops like Corian, can be an excellent choice, as can stainless steel, quartz, formica, concrete or granite. However, if you’re concerned about stains, avoid light stones that are prone to stain, such as white marble and some other stones.
Clean home no-no: If you’re concerned about icky stuff getting stuck on your countertops, avoid tile, as foods tend to get stuck in the grout. A few other clean-freak tips:
- Beware of beadboard, chair rails, trim and millwork, as they can be a dusting nightmare. If you’ve got a lot of detail, be sure to invest in a feather duster and good windows to keep the dust at bay.
- Take off your shoes when you enter the house. You’ll be amazed at how much cleaner your home will stay without bringing in the outdoors on your shoes.
- Limit knick-knacks and clutter. Cleaning surfaces becomes a breeze when you don’t have to move dozens of objects to wipe, dust, vacuum or mop.