LA-based Laura Baker was lucky enough to be able to designer her own backyard home office. Here she shares her home office and tips on designing a space you actually want to spend time in! Always a plus with a home office.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I live in Santa Monica Canyon with my husband Steven and our two children. I’ve had this home office for about 8 years, since we built a studio behind our house. I designed the studio in reference to our house, which was designed by Craig Elwood in 1953. I created a small area to use as a home office, off the main living area of the structure. I’m an interior designer, and the nature of my work is very portable.
I have an office in Brentwood where I go when I’m drafting (I design a lot of custom furniture and cabinetry and find drafting by hand is part of the design process), having meetings, and putting presentations together, but my home office is where I spend time on the computer, researching, shopping, and doing paperwork. It’s also where I sketch ideas.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic?I have a simple, spare, yet warm approach to interiors, both residential and contract. I enjoy the interaction of modern and traditional, and use the juxtaposition in my work. Whether the space is a 1950s Case Study house or an old Spanish home I like to create a clean backdrop, allowing light and air to set off the spare interior. I use soft natural fabrics that drape well such as heavy linens and have a patina of age the way old velvet does, and make the space inviting with comfortable relaxed upholstery pieces and shots of color.
I incorporate a few interesting sculptural pieces to create interest, and life, and these things may be new, vintage, or antique, but they’re three dimensional pieces that create interesting views. In a space that gets good sunlight I like to work with pale natural colors and in darker environments highly saturated colors, even if they just function as accents, can bring a lot of energy to a room.
As an interior designer with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? There’s nothing like a good file cabinet, which is where I keep my jobs organized in my Brentwood office. However, since I need to carry my files around with me I take the current project files in a tote bag that is always nearby. I just found a new tool that may help with the traveling files; a plain black file portfolio that Moleskin makes. There is something so appealing about their products, this has a very traditional feel, and in the age of technology I like it’s old fashioned quality. As this portfolio is small it may be the perfect thing to carry around. I create files for each job on my computer (a Mac Power Book G4 which is just about ready to be replaced), and I enter all the financial information into Quick Books which is terrific. I keep binders with back up copies of all invoices as well, as I like to have a set of hard copies.
When you are designing a home office what do you keep in mind? It’s important to make the home office a place you want to use, so having favorite things hanging on the wall, or on a nearby shelf is helpful. It’s good to have flowers on a desk…it’s like a gift to yourself when they’re in a place just meant for you.
The office should be of a piece with the rest of the home, designed with the same aesthetic and style. I always find out what kind of equipment needs to be accommodated; computer, printer, fax, phone, and so forth, and design to provide space for those things, and wiring channels to hide all the cables and cords as much as possible. Having enough specifically allocated storage is critical to enable a sense of order, as well as easy cleaning.
If it’s part of a larger room the storage can be disguised if need be. Good task lighting, is essential of course. And finally, a comfortable chair makes it a much more pleasant place to spend time.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? I still use an old stool I’ve had since I lived in a very un-renovated loft when I was a student at Parsons in New York, and though I’m sentimental about it I think it’s time to indulge myself! I like to work on a high surface, so that I can stand as I sort through things, but it would be wonderful to have a really comfortable drafting stool. I love the Areon Work Stool in the graphite finish. I especially like the adjustable height foot rest. The airiness of the mesh would prevent a sense of crowding in the small space.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? A box of magnets, to add images to the wall over my desk which is covered with magnetic paint.
What would you change about your own workspace? I’d like to have a window seat, but given the case study design of our house it would be completely out of place! I encourage all my clients to include them to give me the vicarious enjoyment! At least with a comfortable chair I could daydream while looking out the window…not an easy thing to do on a wooden stool!
What do you most love about your space? I love the color of the walls…Farrow and Ball “Skylight”. I love having all my favorite books, magazines and art supplies at arms reach. I am almost glad there isn’t more space, because it’s forced me to edit. I love being able to open the sliding door and nearly be outside. I love my magnetized wall over my desk, for an easy way to arrange images that matter to me. And I love still being close to my family when I’m there.
What inspires you? The first thing that comes to mind is color. When I look at any color it brings to mind a whole world that I can envision around it. I’m very much a beach person, so the color and texture of driftwood, all the blues in the ocean and sky, and the feel of natural fabrics that were left out in the sun too long all inspire me. Inspiration can come from so many places…favorite flowers, objects, locations, can all be springboards. I find paintings to be a wonderful source of inspiration, and you can see some of my favorite artists on my blog.