Sacred Spaces: Home Offices

Now that your home is also your office, schoolhouse, fitness center, restaurant, and entertainment center, how do you avoid clutter and maintain a sense of serenity?  We talked to the experts about how they do it and they shared some tips to help you set up your home office or WFH space in 2021. 

Get Organized

Consider hiring a professional organizer. Yasmin Goodman, owner of Organized at Last has been designing innovative sustainable spaces for Philadelphians for eighteen years. Do you want to turn a closet into an office? Goodman can do it. “My job is to go in and customize a space to my client’s values and lifestyles,” she said. 

“Avoid setting up office or homeschooling space in bedrooms or the kitchen,” said Goodman. “Kitchens are busy and bedrooms should be just for sleeping.” If you do not have a spare room, the best space might be the dining room with roll-away storage. In Goodman’s hands, even a linen closet has potential. 

Her go-to source is The Container Store, which specializes in organizing solutions. Besides an exhaustive supply of multi-purpose bins and items to tackle the messiest desk, the Container Store now offers 100 items designed by Marie Kondo, the undisputed maven of de-clutter. If you are a seeker of “joy,” stick with Kondo. However, many of the same rattan bins, desk organizers, and storage boxes can also be found at lower prices at places like Ikea, Target, and Wayfair. Just make sure to take stock of what you are keeping and buy only what you need.

Hire a Designer

Glenna Stone, owner of Glenna Stone Interior Design brings both professional and personal experience to the challenges of creating a viable home office and homeschooling spaces. “A Center City client had a home office space that felt dark and dated.  We created a beautiful new space with custom built-ins, including a roomy, L-shaped desk, and comfortable furniture for reading.  Feminine wallpaper softens the room and makes it feel bright, fresh, and inviting,” said Stone.

“I have two children, ten and twelve years old. It’s challenging for them to be home and it is also challenging for the family,” said Stone who also works from her home along with her husband and a frisky Golden Doodle.

The key is flexibility. “We have a sun room that was previously my children’s play space,” said Stone. “I now use that area for my office, while my son does his schoolwork from a bay window alcove in the living room.” Stone likes this arrangement because it allows her to keep tabs on her son and help out whenever he has tech issues with his laptop.

Meanwhile, Stone’s daughter works from the dining room table and sometimes shares her father’s home office in a former guest room. Her children’s textbooks and other materials are stored in magazine holders. Art projects and anything requiring glue is relegated to the kitchen island which Stone protects with a cardboard cover.

A home office in West Chester, PA. Photography: Rebecca McAlpin for Glenna Stone Interior Design

It is no coincidence that Stone chose to work in her sunroom and to have her son do his schoolwork next to a bay window. “Studies have shown that natural light makes us more productive,” she said. “If you don’t have access to direct light in your workspace, keep the wall color light and paint the ceiling light blue to mimic the sky. This will help reflect and bounce light around your space.” Sunny areas are also great for plants, which help improve indoor air quality.

What about the noise factor? Stone recommends using area rugs and canvas paintings (without glass)  to help with sound absorption. When needed, she uses ear pods. To reduce distractions, she suggests movable room screens that can be easily folded away.

A home office in Center City designed by Glenna Stone.
Photography: Rebecca McAlpin for Glenna Stone Interior Design

Stone believes it is worth it to invest in better furniture, especially if you are sitting for extended periods of time. “I had a client who was using a dining room chair. I recommended an ergonomic office chair,” she said. Buying a quality piece of furniture that will last for years to come is a smart investment that helps reduce the amount of furniture sent to the landfill too.

“I don’t think I will ever go back to working solely from my design studio,” she said. “As a working mother, there are advantages to spending more time with my children. It’s very meaningful.” 

Stone’s design team now works on a rotating schedule with no more than three employees in the studio at any time. But there is only so much she can do from a home office. “I am limited in how many fabrics I can bring to a client. When they come to our studio, they can experience our complete material library and we have a giant screen on which we can project designs and drawings,” said Stone who looks forward to having her full team on board again.

Want to purchase a home with a dedicated home office space to make your own? Our agents can help you find a home to suit your needs. Give us a call at (215) 564-7656 or contact us via email, we’d love to help!