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Olson: Home office can do double duty with creative design

By Candice Olson
Scripps Howard News Service

As technology evolves and business concepts change, the traditional office is becoming a thing of the past. I’m living proof. Give me a cell phone, a car and a laptop, please), and the world is my workplace.

My client, Phyllis, is another example of this paradigm shift. After ditching the corporate world a year ago, she started a business out of the living/dining room of her small downtown loft. The commute was painless and the view was great, but somehow she was more stressed than ever.

Her once-tranquil home had gradually morphed into a big jumble of boxes, wires and papers. With work intruding into her personal space, she had nowhere to relax, enjoy a meal – or host her famous martini parties.

I wanted to give Phyllis a space that would function as an inspiring, efficient office by day and an inviting, relaxing home by night.

To do it, I would apply the principle of double-duty design: creatively using space and furnishings so that they perform more than one role.

The loft had great bones: soaring ceilings, 8-foot windows and exposed brick. I left those intact and focused on maximizing the small space to create the perfect balance of beauty and function.

I started by getting rid of furnishings that were too large for their surroundings.

To provide privacy but still celebrate the arched windows, I put up sheer, floor-to-ceiling, remote-control blinds.

I mapped out the room into two separate zones that would flow together harmoniously – an office and a lounge.

In the office space, I used the backdrop of an exposed brick wall for a long dresser that mixes a light, wood-laminate top with Phyllis’ existing dark cabinets below, now sprayed white.

When designing a double-duty space, no large piece of furniture should have only one function. Phyllis can use the dresser’s top as a work surface and the storage underneath for office supplies and clothing.

To one side of the dresser, I incorporated a large work desk and added a modern white leather chair. On the other side, I put a large storage cabinet that I fronted with beautiful wallpaper for the look of custom cabinetry.

For the lounge area, I picked a sectional sofa in a latte-colored linen that maximizes the seating space. The back cushions can be removed so the sofa can double as a comfy guest bed.

Across from it, I created a sitting corner with a gorgeous charcoal velvet chair, metallic lamp and end table.

In the loft’s center, I worked in a round tilt-top table and chairs that can be used for daytime business meetings or intimate evening dinners. It folds away when Phyllis needs extra room for entertaining. To showcase the beautiful soaring ceiling, above the table I centered a dramatic light fixture of 150 light-as-air shimmering metallic balls.

To further separate the two areas, I installed a counter that holds a large, dual-purpose monitor on a swivel. When turned toward the living room, it functions as a TV, but when facing the office, it is perfect for media screenings and presentations.

I added a host of accents and accessories – mirrors, lamps and artwork – and the space was complete.

This messy loft wasn’t conducive to working or living. By maximizing Phyllis’ space with double-duty design, it is now ready for work, play – even martini parties.

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