The Cozier Home Office

Armoires, distressed trunks and other furnishings hide business functions behind more decorative facades.

Focus On Work Space

September 26, 2004|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun Staff

The home office is starting to look more like home.

That's the message of collections from Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Ethan Allen and other furniture makers that are integrating pieces that work into overall home design.

They're catering to a growing market of people who work at home at least part of the time. The International Telework Association & Council says a recent survey showed 24.1 million Americans -- nearly one-fifth of the work force -- worked at home at least one day during the last year. That's 2.6 percent more than the year before.

"People were finally fed up with the ready-to-assemble furniture," said Lisa Kanarek, founder of and the author of several books about working at home. "They would spend thousands of dollars on a dining room set and family room furniture and have this medium density fiberboard [for the office] that was just so tacky."

Whether your decorative style is country-cottage, modern and sleek or traditional, you'll find armoires, creative filing cabinets and desk accessories that either hide your work or help it fit right in.

Discovery Channel decorating guru Chris-topher Lowell has a new line of home-office furniture at Office Depot that blends with both traditional and modern decor. Pottery Barn offers retro-style lamps for desk lighting and an old-fashioned trunk with "subtle distressing" that holds files and a corkboard inside.

Kanarek is most impressed with the new office armoires, from a number of different designers, that can contain everything from files to printers to desk extensions, then fold up when work is done. "You can literally close your office doors at the end of the day," she said.

For a homier home office

Here are a few tips for your home office from Pottery Barn's new design book, Workspaces (Oxmoor House, $24.95):

For an open look, "float" your table or desk away from walls and use shelves or other storage pieces that reach midlevel rather than extending from floor to ceiling.

Use eye-catching items from around the house in new ways. An old wooden ladder propped against a wall, for example, can become an organizer or newspaper rack. In a kitchen office, a chrome breadbox can hold stationery supplies.

"Adaptable" furniture can help a home office double as a guest room. A trundle bed can hide files in a drawer. A hanging canvas storage panel can be folded up and stashed when guests arrive.

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