InHouse ripped out all existing walls and cabinetry, rewired the room, moved the air conditioning vent and designed an entire new room within the former shell. The room now houses two computer workstations with files and shelving and a tilting laminate work surface that was designed for the art studio.
Nearly 20 million people worked at home at least once a week in May 2001, according to the most recent available data from the U.S. Department of Labor. Combined with the number of homeowners who need space from which to manage personal and household finances, you're looking at a lot of home offices.
Interior architect Mark Dutka, a principal with InHouse Design Studio in San Francisco, has based his entire business on this niche, specializing in ergonomically sound home offices outfitted with built-in, customized cabinetry and furniture.
"The home office used to be just a piece of furniture," he told seminar attendees at NeoCon 2004, a design conference held in Chicago. "Home offices have changed a lot in the past 20 years because of technology."
These days, he said, a home office requires a desk system, not a desk. Whether running the home or a home-based business, telecommuting or consulting, clients typically need room for at least one computer - including monitor, CPU, keyboard, mouse, and associated cables and peripherals - as well as document storage and good task lighting. Add to that other common office equipment such as a modem, fax or printer, and organizing all these elements in a space-efficient, easy-to-reach, attractive manner presents a formidable challenge.
Dutka emphasizes the importance of asking clients specific questions about how they plan to use the office and measuring all of their office equipment, even the cable heads, which add to the overall depth. He designs built-ins to help clients avoid carpal tunnel and eye strain by including a keyboard tray that can be adjusted to different heights, a mouse tray adjacent to the keyboard, and lighting with dimmers. The planning guide Dutka uses is online at www.inhousesf.com/officeplanner.html.