all in a day’s work

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Murphy bed
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home office

by Rachel Lorenz

working from home never looked so good

Just as work is a significant part of our lives, a home office has become a meaningful part of our residence. “It’s one of the most personal spaces, because we all have to work to survive,” says Vahid Mojarrab, architect and principal of WAMO Studio Architects in Santa Fe. “We need that aspect in our lives to feel productive, to feel like we are contributing.”

The coronavirus pandemic has changed where work gets done for many, but the trend toward working from home is not new. “All of our clients basically request a home office,” Mojarrab says.

But each home workspace is as unique as the individual that uses it. “Every time, it’s a different story,” says Ana Young, of California Closets in Albuquerque, of the home offices she designs.

Often, clients need spaces that serve a dual function. A guest room, for example, can serve as a home office for daily use and provide a comforting space to house guests on occasion. According to Young, there has been a marked trend toward Murphy beds to provide a solution to that goal.

Young, who opened her business with her husband 23 years ago, remembers designing home offices with entire walls dedicated to file storage. But in the digital age, that’s not necessary for most people, as technology has helped people move to paperless offices.

As technology makes working from home easier — and health concerns make working from home more attractive — the value of home offices will only increase.

What inspires a person to do their best work also differs and affects a room’s design. Some are motivated by an expansive horizon or a small meditation garden. Some want a calming space, but others need to be stimulated with color and music and energy.

A person who wants a new home office should think about their personal style, what their day-to-day life looks like and what makes them happy, says Carole Newsom, interior designer and owner of Mostly Home in Albuquerque.

“You want it to be a reflection of you and be comfortable,” she says. “Otherwise, you’re not going to want to go in there and work.”

As distinct as each person’s work situation is, though, there are some items that should be in every home office. Everyone needs enough flat surfaces to spread out their work, enough outlets to run their electronics and a comfortable chair to sit in. Most remote workers require a high-speed internet connection as well.

Good lighting is also critical. You may need both overhead lighting and task lighting, Newsom says. She recommends changing out traditional heat-generating bulbs for cooler LED ones and using a dimmer so that the ambiance of the room can be adjusted.

A plush rug or window coverings will absorb noise and can prevent you from sounding like you’re in an empty room, Newsom notes. “When you’re on the phone, it makes a difference,” she says.

She also suggested adding artwork, family photos or fresh flowers, which can make working from home feel more special.

In the Southwest, people want to be connected to nature. They value New Mexico’s incredible views and the ability to open doors and windows six months out of the year. Because of this, “make sure your [computer] monitor, and things like that, are not blocking what you’re going to see,” Mojarrab advises.

In addition to what you do want to see, consider what you’d rather keep hidden. Cabinets and drawers are convenient for tucking away reference sources, office supplies and cord-strewn charging stations. With some planning, you can put the not-so-pretty stuff out of sight, but still have it close and available, Newsom says.

As technology makes working from home easier — and health concerns make working from home more attractive — the value of home offices will only increase.

“It’s always been important,” Newsom says. “It’s nice to have that personal space that you can just find refuge in and get your work done … more so lately.”

resources
California Closets
californiaclosets.com

Mostly Home
WAMO Studio Architects