Neither of us intended to work out of the house, but the pros of convenience outweighed the cons of domestic distractions. It worked well for the first year. It was a pleasure not to commute to an office. But as our businesses grew, we also outgrew our home offices set up. Suddenly the cons outweighed the pros. My wifeʼs company moved into a large commercial space in Pasadena and I hunted for an office space.
At the same time a house in our neighborhood of Eagle Rock went on sale. It was a faux-spanish style stucco box and it was falling apart. It also had a huge lot filled with old trees. It was the perfect fixer. We jumped on it. Now I had a tremendous opportunity to design the perfect live/work space. I had spent the previous year in a less than ideal work/live environment so now I knew exactly what I wanted. First, I wanted to make my office as high-tech and and spatially efficient as the cockpit of a jet, without looking like one. Thanks to Skype and other networking tools I collaborate with people without sharing a physical office space. One of my 3d modelers lives in New Zealand and another in Canada. With high speed internet and streaming video we meet on-line as if we are all in the same room.
The new home office reflects my aesthetic and the sustainable focus of my practice. Since I design a lot of residential projects it made sense that my residential clients meet in one of my residential spaces, namely, my own. My office and home are a living portfolio through which I walk my clients. I can show them a grey water recycling system in action or custom concrete counter tops or any of the details that went into the house,
The office runs off of solar energy panels on the roof. The ceiling is made of recycled lumber and clerestory windows keep the room filled with natural light, without the need for any artificial light during the day. Unlike my old home office, the new one has its own entrance and can be shut off from the rest of the house.
The custom desk and shelf system hang from threaded steel rods bolted through the ceiling beams. Everything is adjustable and small trays slide out underneath for keyboards and computer peripherals. The vaulted ceiling makes the space feel much larger than the floor plan and allows for more shelves that take advantage of the tall ceilings.
Concealed trap doors in the floor open (above) with a foot pedal to reveal an under floor storage area. The doors opens up in sections using the same pneumatic arms that hold open car hoods. Stairs descend 4ʼ to a storage area we created out of the space under the raised foundation.
We live in Southern California, which has amazing year round weather, yet most offices are climactically sealed temperature controlled boxes. I designed this space where I could walk out the door with my sketch book or a laptop and draw under a tree. A tree with wifi. Erasing the boundary between indoors and out is a theme in my work. In my last home office, I was constantly escaping to be outside. This time I created lots of outdoor options so that every room in the house opens to an outdoor garden space built around a tree.
When I really feel like escaping I walk down into the garden where I designed a big work table made of galvanized metal and sustainably harvested cedar planks. It is inspired by picnic benches which make their own space. This is where Robin and I often start our day on dueling laptops answering email and sharing a coffee. This is a sea of calm just twenty feet from the office door. It’s my favorite place to work. The only problem with having your ideal work/live space is that its hard to get me to leave.