By Nancy Ruddy
Designing your home can be a challenge whether you live in a 5,000 square foot penthouse or a studio apartment. No matter the size, every home has those small, awkward and overlooked spaces that seem impossible to use. What do you do with the former servants’ quarters? Or that corner off the living room? Or all the empty space surrounding a window?
At CetraRuddy, we view these spaces as opportunities and have transformed these tucked away nooks and forgotten areas into elegant and efficient home offices and activity spaces for our clients.
The image above is of a residence we worked on recently. We took advantage of the under-used area between a window and a closet door and transformed it into a quiet workspace. The clean lines, open back and minimal aesthetic of the desk give the small space a larger feel. The transparency of the lamp base pairs perfectly next to a window because it doesn’t obstruct the view and allows light to pass through gracefully. We added a bright plant for a pop of color. The textural throw is a nice touch that brings a casual comfort found elsewhere in your home to your workspace.
In this 8 foot wide former maid’s room, we created a cozy and invigorating home office that has become a favorite room in the apartment. The complimentary wool plaid on the walls and animal print chair fabric add vibrancy to the room. CetraRuddy designed a built-in desk that integrates the mechanical unit cabinet to create extra spread-out space. Combining drawers and file cabinets is a great way to reduce clutter. Another trick is to locate any overhead storage as high as possible in the room. This makes a room feel more spacious and doesn’t cast a shadow at the desk. Open shelves are cantilevered from the wall for more open storage. Personalizing your home office with things you are passionate about makes one feel more creative. We incorporated inspiring accessories and personal mementos to create a warm haven.
Color can transform an otherwise plain or dark room. In this home office in the image above, we painted all of the walls an intense spring garden green that creates a unifying element and drama. CetraRuddy created a themed room that reflects our client’s interest in horticulture. Here we used large linen mattes to draw attention and accentuate the preciousness of these little drawings.
A glass-topped desk makes this small space feel more open and airy. An organizing trick that we use is to provide trays on a desk and create vignettes that almost look like art than clutter. To maximize the sense of openness in the room, we designed an open cabinet with shelves but created a custom upscale feeling by including a drawer with distinctive hardware. With open shelving, it is important to arrange objects artistically. We added linen and raffia storage boxes to be used to store supplies and reduce the need for added storage. Look for organizational features like these when designing a workspace in your own home.
When the only place in your apartment for a home office is your bedroom, it can be made into a beautiful asset for the room. Our client has a busy family life, but he needed a quiet space to write and work from their home on the Upper East Side. Our design solution was to create a composed ensemble of modern and efficient elegance. We used wireless appliances to reduce clutter, but the table desk maintains a feel that is more residential than office-like. We reframed a favorite painting of our client’s with a custom nickel-leaf frame that adds importance and rounds out the ensemble. A mix of styles that includes a vintage-inspired desk chair and a metal lamp with articulated detail add interest to the space. We also introduced a table lamp that provides the proper task lighting but also creates a welcome pool of illumination when the desk is not in use. To hide the messy wires, we tucked the requisite printer into the nearby walk-in closet.
In a small space between the kitchen and the dining room that looked too small for furniture, CetraRuddy created an easy conversation space that compliments the aesthetics of both rooms. We designed a banquette that anchors the seating group. An unexpected chandelier dropped over the table further defines the space and creates a refreshing nook for having tea, great conversation or working on your laptop. Chairs in white ultra-suede were selected without arms to allow the area to feel more spacious. As we did here, create a wall of artwork that adds interest and your own personality. Notice that they are all of similar hues and attitude to create an ensemble on the wall. The result is an exciting added “living space” that didn’t exist before
Include things that inspire you, energize you and make you smile. The home workspace is ultimately about you, your style and your comfort. Remember if you design a home office that reflects the style and comfort of the rest of your home, chances are, you’ll actually want to spend time there!