Many clients of Brad Brooks use their home offices to experiment with materials they may not feel comfortable with using in the main home areas. They ask for steel, cast-in-place concrete, laser cut and fabricated panel systems along with recycled panels from items like rubber and plastics.
“We just broke ground on a single family residential project that will have a home office adjacent to the master suite and an outdoor courtyard and patio area for access from the outside,” says Brooks, principal at B2lab, Inc., an architecture and multidisciplinary design company in Omaha.
The world of home offices is changing as more and more people telecommute. The convenience of having an office inside your home saves money, time and effort. Who wouldn’t want to walk 10 feet from your bedroom to your office and still have your pajamas on?
And the numbers don’t lie. The regular work-at-home, non-self-employed population has grown by 140 percent since 2005, according to Global Workplace Analytics. This is nearly 10 times faster than the rest of the workforce or the self-employed. About 4.3 million employees (3.2 percent of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time.
Those changes in where people work are keeping designers, architects and construction companies busy with transforming everything from a basement bedroom to an outside shed to a big closet into home offices.
Home office trends
Brooks works on designing and incorporating home offices into new home builds and into existing homes. He is seeing big changes in what people want and need to make it a place to get work done but also have style, comfort and class.
“Because most of the people working from home are parents, we also find that the home office areas are near the master suite and somewhat secluded from the other parts of the house,” he says. “Customers want hard surface floors, modern furnishings, light colors, and small accents of texture in concrete, stone or masonry and steel.”
He adds that the top five things people are seeking as trends in their home offices this year are:
- Separate entry
- Natural lighting
- Shade and lighting control systems
- Remote technology and surveillance equipment
- Concealed storage and technology areas such as built-in television
He also incorporates outdoor spaces as well. Patios and upper decks off the office are popular right now. People also are requesting great views from their office windows – such as the forest or lake behind the house, or a city line view.
One of the most unique items a client wanted for their home office was a back staircase that was concealed in the wall casework that went directly to the garage.
“We are putting office and den spaces in many new residential projects,” Brooks explains.
“Our firm works mainly on modern or contemporary spaces that find the inspiration from a connectivity to the outdoors, and simple and open spaces that allow for flexibility as family needs change.”
Everyone also wants lots of natural light.
“Most of our homes utilize floor to ceiling glass with shading and orientation to provide diffused lighting and cut down on artificial light and reduce electrical consumption. Other amenities include fireplaces, informal seating areas and floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinets for files and storage,” Brooks explains. “About 50-70 percent of our clientele pursue fireplaces in the office space.”
Many people are looking for simple lines that create a timeless style complimented by textures that provide the home warmth, he adds. Within the context of the home, most people don’t want commercially-based products found in offices.
Brooks and his team strive to bring the outside in by providing opening glass walls and transitioning outside materials into the interior spaces of the home office. They add to the ambience by using indirect lighting that provides a warm and even lighting pattern throughout the room with small areas of direct task lighting in areas that need higher lumens of lighting such as the direct desk areas.
The cost of adding a home office could be $0 to thousands and thousands of dollars depending on what you want. If you have an empty room and a hand-me-down desk with a chair, you can have a home office. But you also have to consider connectivity to the room such as internet and phone jacks, convenient wall outlets and extra electricity. Homeadvisor.com suggests consulting with an electrician to see if your home’s wiring is enough to support a computer, monitors, a TV, scanner and or print and other electronics.
Also, don’t try to cram too much into your space. A nice rug for comfort on the feet, a desk, comfortable chair and good lighting might be all you need. A few personal touches can also make it a great place to go to each day. If you are on a strict budget, many Habitat for Humanity Re-stores or other charitable organizations offer second-hand stores where you can pick up many things for your home office.