Northern California HOME & GARDEN
May 1988
Homes that Work
Imagine Ward Cleaver figuring his clients' taxes at a personal computer as Wally and The Beaver wrestle in the next room. After finishing the tax form, Cleaver walks across the room to FAX it to the clients for their perusal. June Cleaver then takes over at the computer to transcribe the PTA meeting notes. Sound absurd? The Cleavers of 1950s TV fame have been replaced by very different families in the 1980s and homes have changed along with them. Computers have taken the place of most adding machines, and no longer can one assume that the breadwinner of a family will leave the house every day in a gray flannel suit to ride the bus to a downtown office. With the advent of personal computers and the expanded involvement of women in the work force, homes have increasingly become the place of work and "home office is no longer an oxymoron.

Whether used as a second office, business headquarters, or a place to organize domestic concerns, home offices have become a necessary part of our lives. "There isn't one home we're doing now where we are not putting in an office at the client's request," says Jeffrey Werner, ASID, Werner Design Associates in Redwood Shores.

"The greatest demand is from people who have computers at work and who want to continue using them at home, and from women who are active in special organizations and who use computers to perform their tasks. Also, more professionals are choosing to modem their work into the regular office as a way of cutting commuting time."

With demand for home offices at an all-time high, interior designers and resourceful homeowners are transforming even the most unlikely of spaces into appropriate work settings. Though their approaches vary, all go beyond the mere removal of clothing from closets, beds from bedrooms and the replacement of porch screens with glass. To these savvy individuals, the home office is no different than a traditional office?it is a place in which to do business and, as such, must be designed with function, comfort and efficiency in mind.


While many areas of a home may be potential working spaces, few may be appropriate for the intended function. Among the key functional issues to consider: what the office will be used for, who will be using it and what kind of equipment and funiture it should contain.

If an office is to be a business headquarters, an ideal spot might be a remodeled porch, guest room, or other area that can be closed off. However, consider whether clients will visit. If so, do you really want to lead visitors through the dining room, kitchen and living room to reach an office at the back end of the house? You might want to create a seperate entrance. If an office is to be used full or part-time by more than one person, it should be spacious enough to accomodate multiple desks.