Designed to Work

Three homeowners enlist help in creating their home offices—and get spaces that are clearly up to any task

(page 3 of 3)

Room to Grow

David and Jennifer Stier were thrilled with the Potomac house they purchased in 2011—except for one thing: It didn’t come with an office or library. Jennifer Stier, who is employed by a New York City-based software company, was working from home while raising their daughter. But without a designated workspace, she had to improvise.

“I’d been working in an upstairs bedroom,” she says. “But when I got pregnant with my second daughter, I decided to use that as a nursery and move my office down into the sunroom.”

The sunroom, located between the living and family rooms, had been used as an informal sitting area by previous homeowners. French doors separated the space from the living room, but it was completely open to the family room.

Bethesda-based interior designer Marika Meyer, who earlier had helped the Stiers renovate the rest of the house, began the month-long project last fall. She added another set of French doors to seal off the sunroom completely when needed. She also finished the flooring in a walnut stain to match the other rooms.

“It’s the perfect place for an office,” Meyer says. “The doors are transparent, yet they close for quiet. And it’s on the first floor in the home’s public space, rather than in a bedroom. It’s nice to have a delineation between work and private areas.”

As part of the redesign, dated cabinets were replaced with ones that matched those elsewhere in the home. This was especially important, Meyer says, because “the sunroom shares sightlines with the living and family rooms.”

Meanwhile, Jennifer Stier’s desk, with its neoclassical details, was brought downstairs and paired with a leather armchair. A lamp with a Lucite base provides desktop lighting at night.

Meyer also installed built-ins on three walls, creating two additional desk areas with customized task boards, as well as concealed storage space. “I’d really wanted something to grow with our family over time,” Stier says of the two built-in desk areas. “It’d be my office by day, but become a place for my girls to do homework in the afternoon when they start school. In the interim, it’s also an art-and-craft room.”

The task boards are covered in ikat fabric in vibrant orange and yellow, the color palette for the office. “We added the punch of orange because it works so well with the colors in the adjoining rooms: red in the family room and blues in the living room,” Meyer says.

New curtain panels in yellow, striated cotton warm up the space, while previously installed Roman shades control glare. And a textured, honey-tinged grass cloth was used on the walls.

“The sunroom’s such a fresh, energetic space now,” Meyer says.

As for Stier, she feels lucky “that when I’m not in my NYC headquarters, I get to work out of my fabulous office.”

Photos by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg

Charlotte Safavi is a freelance writer living in Alexandria, Va. To comment on this story, email comments@bethesda

Office Do’s and Don’ts

Designers Marika Meyer, Sue Burgess and Kristin Peake offer these collective
tips on designing an office:  

  • Do personalize your home office and make the space comfortable and inviting. It should be a room in which you enjoy spending time.
  • Do keep clutter at bay with built-ins.
  • Don’t underestimate the amount of storage you’ll need. Think of everything from files to pens to paper to computer gear.
  • Do design a space that’s based on how you work, such as desktop vs. laptop computer, reading vs. computer work.
  • Do make sure the desk is big enough for your needs.
  • Don’t neglect lighting. A functional workspace must have appropriate task lighting.
  • Don’t compromise on comfort for your desk chair. You’ll be spending a lot of time in it.

    —Charlotte Safavi
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