September 19, 2011
Magdalena Keck‘s interior design work spans retail, commercial and residential spaces and also moves up and down the east coast from Miami to New York. The homes she works on for her clients inevitably include a home office. Here the designer talks about a signature style and what inspires her.
You’ve been working as an interior designer for over a decade now and we see your work published widely. Do you have a signature look that typifies what you are trying to achieve with your residential work? I strive to create more space and light then the spaces have in actuality. I like a good functional use of space and an easy flow with one or two interesting pieces. No fuss really, but elegant simplicity and comfort. I love a really light or a really dark palette, you will not see much of in between in my projects. I am drawn to colors that are hard to define: blue grays, brown grays, black browns, brown aubergine etc.
Looking through the homes you’ve worked on I see a common thread of clean-lined simplicity and restrained color schemes. There’s a real serenity to your work. Is that a conscious choice on your part? I think it is subconscious, but I do believe we have enough stimulation in the “outside world”.
Tell us about some of the favorite home workspaces you’ve created. Do you find people ask for similar things in a home office? People want home work space to be integrated well into the home instead of being some forgotten isolated corner.The home office of Upper East Side Residence is one of my favorites (pictured below). I love the huge window one can look out from at NYC from 34th floor. It’s dark: a combination of browns, grays and aubergine, which I think it makes it sophisticated and warm at the same time.
How do you strike a balance between work and home life? Do you find yourself designing at your kitchen table or are your work hours clearly defined and contained to an office space? I like what I do, so I have no problem working at home when inspiration strikes. I do quite a lot of research in the evening if nothing else is going on. I think as a designer one never really stops working, the wheels are always turning.
What inspires you in your design? Many different things: it sounds like a cliché, but one of them is Nature. She has it all figured out: the light, the darkness, the textures and colors. I am drawn to “found objects” in nature as well as made man. Art history and European renaissance and baroque architecture are beginning to play a significant role as well.
June 7, 2010
Australian interior designer and blogger Dana Hughes shares her beautiful Sydney home office with us.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I’ve been working from home since November 2009. My husband and I share an apartment in an old style building in Elizabeth Bay in Sydney with high ornate ceilings and beautiful bay windows – I feel very lucky to be able to spend a few days here during the week. At the moment, I divide my time between working as a lead designer on high profile projects with an esteemed architecture & design practice, and crafting boutique interiors as a principal of my design business.
I also write a design blog called yellowtrace, where I share my love for great design and clever people in the areas of interiors, architecture, art, fashion, photography and anything else worth knowing about. I am on a mission to inspire others using design as a tool, so that they can become the best they can be.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I approach my designs with passion, emotion and honesty, and I always strive to separate who am I as a designer from the essence of my client, which isn’t always easy to do. I feel it is absolutely critical to create spaces that tell a story about the end user, rather than about me and my own aesthetic.
My design philosophy is based on a holistic approach which translates brands, ideas and my clients’ personalities into places. Each project begins with a strong concept which becomes an anchor for all ideas during the design process. I am drawn to inspiring, meaningful and enduring environments and experiences, frequently stepping off the beaten path to discover the unexpected for my clients.
How do you keep your work space organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? I have a large drawer cabinet where I store all of my sketches, drawings, samples and work in progress. I have also created little zones in my work space which are dedicated to different tasks – desk for computer based tasks, sketching, admin, blogging; floor for laying out samples and finishes (very glamorous!), seat by the window for thinking etc.
In terms of the technology, I simply couldn’t live without my large iMac screen which is absolutely ideal for creating visual presentations which require having multiple applications open and visible at the same time. Apart from the computer programs essential to my work like AutoCAD, Photoshop and Illustrator, I also rely heavily on Adobe Bridge for sorting and managing all my files. I also really love Apreture and Picasa which help me organise and upload photos and images, particularly for my blog.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you love? Neither of these are furniture, but the things I love in my home office are my computer and my reference books. Sad but true! Having said that, I adore the ceramic table lamp called “Cut Series” by Szilvia Gyorgy – when it’s off, it looks like a beautiful sculpture; when it’s on, it gives off the most beautiful light and casts stunning patterns on surrounding walls. I also really love large typography tea towels purchased at a market in Melbourne and a photo of oars taken by my husband.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Magazine holder which I use to keep an absolutely endless supply of loose pages in order. Also, although not a desk accessory, I absolutely cannot live without my rolls of yellow trace sketch paper (which is where the name for my business and blog comes from – you can read about it more in this post).
What would you change about your own workspace? I would definitely like more layout space – a bench under the window would be nice.
What do you most love about your space? Abundance of natural light, textured brick walls painted white and high ceilings – a perfect canvas for a creative work space.
What inspires you? Ah, this is such a difficult question to answer. I am inspired by so many things, from big and small, obvious and hidden, special and everyday. I recently wrote an entire post on this topic – you can read it right here.
June 3, 2010
Designer Janell Beals lives in Portland, Oregon and with the arrival of her two children Isabella and Max, shifted her focus to the home and interior design. In 2006, she started her interior designer business with an emphasis on warm, eclectic interiors. I came across her blog yesterday and the home office she just finished renovating. She covers the redesign in fine detail here. What do you think of those black walls?
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 3, 2010
Ghislaine Vinas, who recently won Benjamin Moore’s 2010 Hue Award, is based in New York and was one of our visitors at the Herman Miller stand during ICFF. Ghislaine’s interiors are a warm take on modernism that utilize a strong and saturated color palette. Here we talk to the designer about her work space at the country home she bought 6 years ago.
How long have you worked from home? This is my desk at our country home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. We bought the house in 2004, spent a year renovating it and have been working on the interiors ever since. Being an interior designer, designing my own house is torturous and I don’t think I will ever be finished! If I need to get work done during the weekend and I’m not out on the deck with my laptop, you can find me here. I mostly use the time away from my New York City office to look for inspiration and to come up with new ideas.
And where is home? Home from Monday – Friday afternoon is downtown New York City. I’ve lived in the same loft for over 20 years right on the Hudson River. We work from the loft too. But life is crazy in the city and after my husband and I had our two little girls we decided to get a country house near my sister in Pennsylvania. So Friday evening to Sunday evening our home is in the country. It’s a little old farmhouse that my husband and I lovingly renovated with the help of my sister’s husband, Glenn who is a contractor.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I would say that my style is modern, fresh, clean happy and a wee bit quirky. I like things that can be cleaned off easily, I dont like too much clutter but I like that my home reflects who I am. I get enjoyment out of being surrounded by things I have found around the world or even in my back yard from local garage sales or flea markets.
As an interior designer with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized. The New York apartment pictured above seems typical of your work – strong bursts of color against a fairly minimal backdrop of white? We specialize in one style – we are not an office that does traditional through to contemporary – we stick to simple happy modern – this helps keep our samples to a minimum and has helped clean up things a lot in the NYC office. Over the years I have honed my style so I dont want fabrics or other samples lying around that I dont intend to use. Two years ago we got rid of all our brochures and binders and it was such a relief to “clean house” Everything is online anyway so we are good at bookmarking our favorite sites and pieces.
We keep all our fabric samples in drawers – there are 16 big drawers all color coded. Our tiles and other materials we keep in drawers too for easy access. We have big boxes that we keep sample in on projects we are currently working on and its always great to see how all the materials start coming together. All other material is kept in giant client binders – these binders contain everything from plans and elevations to color inspiration and specific furniture pieces. The binders are evolving constantly as we work on the projects.
Are there any particular computer programs you find really useful? I used to have interns do weekly color copies of magazine inspirations and I kept them in a giant lateral file but now we use Evernote to organize all my inspirational images as well as furniture pieces that I really dont want to forget. So now when I am looking for something its such a breeze to find.
When you are designing a home office what do you keep in mind? I keep in mind that peoples lives are busy and we dont always have time to put things away – this means that a stack of bills on the desk top may be reality. So a nice paper tray could be a smart investment. I try and reduce clutter by having upper cabinets that are easy to reach from a seated position that can store unattractive real life things you need at your desk. Also essential is a good “box box file” drawer right next to the desk. Top drawer for essentials including check books, good hand cream and lip balm , second drawer for stationary and stamps and the bottom drawer for filing monthly bills. You also need good lateral files for all the other things that need filing like taxes and investment, school and other info.
An attractive trash can under the desk never hurts . Its always nice to have a beautiful cup holder for pens and stationary and a beautiful stapler, tape holder and paper clip holder. Recently I have started working with personal organizers so that my clients can have perfect tabs on all their files holders and just the right drawer dividers.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? I love the Airia desk (and seriously not because its for Herman Miller) and I adore the big e15 table especially in yellow (above). I dream of having a giant desk like it. I love my vintage saarinen chair that I have in my PA house. I had it reupholstered in a brilliant magenta – it makes the perfect desk chair.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? A cup of coffee in my right hand. I would really love to get a set of “Anything” desk accessories (below).
What would you change about your own workspace? Well, my little spot in PA is kinda perfect for me but my office in New York needs help. In New York we sit at long white counters and although I can look out the window at the river from where I sit, I would love to have a freestanding table to work from. I would love to get a giant table maybe vintage or Baroque looking and have it shop finished in a crazy color – like fluorescent red. Then everything around it would be white. A giant inspiration board is the second thing on my wish list. My little space in PA feels personal and has an aesthetic, my New York space is about function and lacks personal style.
What do you most love about your space? Well, my space in my PA house is very special to me – it’s full of fun little memories because all the pictures on the wall were given to me either by the artist themself or by friends. I love looking out the window and daydreaming. There are always bunnies out there in the spring and summer and it’s so ridiculously idyllic that it makes me smile. I love my comfy magenta chair and the pop of color the rolling file add. I love that I can go out and pick some flowers from the garden and put them on the desk. In the pictures are peonies from my front yard.
What inspires you? Anything bright and happy. I love seeing unexpected color combinations. I love seeing things that are out of scale – an image of something small that has been enlarged or visa versa. I love animal objects. The beach is my favorite place in the world and inspires me. I love my girl’s (Mia Soleil and Saskia Luna) art work. I love designing with my husband Jaime. I am inspired by very smart people who are also creative and who don’t take themselves too seriously. Collaborations with clients get my heart racing. Graffitti and urban wall art is beautiful and surprising.
Images: The PA office: Jaime Vinas, the New York apartment: Eric Laignel
May 21, 2010
UK-based interior designer Charlotte Jackson sent me this pic of Mabel. She looks like she’s studying the Pantone colors. “I work from home with Mabel who likes to sit on my keyboard, in front of my mac, on drawings or anything that I need to work! She is sat here on my MacBook.”
Any dogs out there? I bet there are a few fish swimming around in bowls on people’s desks. Send me a pic to firstname.lastname@example.org
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
April 29, 2010
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.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
April 23, 2010
We came across interior designer Kimberly Hall’s work in a New York Times’ story on an office makeover. I contacted her and asked if she’d share her own home office. Our timing was fortuitous as Hall and her husband had recently bought an apartment and turned the kitchen into a workspace. Here it is!
How long have you worked from home? Since February 1. And where is home? The Meatpacking district (14th between 8th and 9th.) What do you do? I am an interior designer. We work on predominantly residential work at the moment but we have also done contract work such as restaurants, retail, and office spaces. I was an associate at the Rockwell Group for 7 years so I have a strong background in hospitality.
Six years ago I opened a store called Kimberly Hall Kids, specializing in children’s’ furnishings and interior design. I had a small storefront and office on 21st Street and tried to pull off running the store (which did a lot of custom and one-off work) as well as my interior design business. It quickly became too much and I tried to expand accordingly.
In the end, one was diluting the other so I decided to close the store and focus exclusively on interior design work. My office remained in the same space until this year when my husband and I bought a new apartment. We had been living in an 800 square foot rental with 2 dogs, 2 young children, and the 2 of us. It was time for a change. The market was right to purchase and we found a 1500 square foot apartment.It had a 300 square foot wing at the back that was perfect for my office. It had high ceilings and I knew I could get most of what I needed in if I went vertical (a favorite trick of mine.) It was a great solution for us as it gave us a way to afford the apartment, reduce my “rent” and I now have more time at home to spend with my family.
I gutted the space, which had been the apartments kitchen (I still do not have a kitchen, for the record) including all of the walls and ceiling. I really wanted a classic loft feeling and by exposing the brick and all of the thick, old rafters, I have really achieved the feeling I was looking for. It was also, thankfully, the most economical solution.
Describe your style? My style is definitely eclectic, although I’d love to come up with a new word for that. I love almost all “styles” but get most excited by mixing styles and periods. We have done quite a few traditional homes with very contemporary interiors. I look at each job as a challenge to give the client what they are looking for and to personally challenge myself to come up with ideas and solutions that I have not come up with before. I tend to use a lot of color and incorporate art and other objects of personal significance in my interiors. Sometimes I have gotten the most exciting results using items that I could never have imagined fitting into a project.
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? We organize our projects into binders and I LOVE plastic page protectors! I should buy some stock. We also have a fantastic program that synthesizes all aspects of the design process from a business standpoint. It is called Studio Designer and interfaces accounting, purchasing, contacts, etc. into a single program.
I currently use a Mac but when I used a PC, I loved Outlook. I wish the MAc version was up-to-snuff, but so far I can’t seem to get it to do everything I want it to.
Regarding the physical space, we have it lined, stacked and otherwise filled, floor-to-ceiling with reference materials. It is clearly much easier to find information since the advent of the internet but I still like to keep hard copies of many of my favorites. We also have a fantastic materials library that we keep in bins that we load onto Ikea Expedit bookshelves. These are my favorites as I am a big fan of cubbies as opposed to shelves. I just find that it keeps things neater. We have literally thousand of fabric samples that arranged by color and sometimes type which makes it much easier to put schemes together than going shopping every time.
When you are designing a home office what do you keep in mind? I think it is imperative to have good “cord management”, especially in a home office. Having a jumble of cords is not only unsightly, it is extremely frustrating to problem solve if you don’t know what you are looking at. We make sure that we always place outlets in an appropriate location in relation to the work surface. I also find it very important to have a “place for everything” (as my mother used to say.) I especially like mail sorters which have a variety of slots. I label each slot with a project name or other type of category and anytime I have something related to that particular subject, I just slide it in there. It’s sort of an interim holding zone for paper that have not yet been filed into binders or files.
Obviously lighting is extremely important in a home office and I make sure to include adjustable task lighting in every project as well as a sliding keyboard tray which alleviates back and posture problems.
File cabinets are also a necessary evil but I try to make them attractive by choosing all white or even sometimes colored. Bisley offers the best colors.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? I have always coveted a glass-topped desk on horses. Unfortunately, the nature of my work (or perhaps the way I work!) will never allow this but I keep dreaming that someday I will have an impeccable, clean and clear workspace with nothing on it but a computer and a phone. Also, like in all of the magazine photo shoots, there will be no cords attached to the computer or the phone.
I already have the item that I most covet and that is an Aeron chair. Several years ago I herniated a disc and this was the only place I felt comfortable. I slept many a night in that chair!
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? I love low, acrylic trays for organizing small objects on my desk. I put my stapler, tape dispenser, paperclip cup, electric pencil sharpener as well as post-it notes clustered into these trays so that I always know where something is when I need it and things don’t get scattered all over the work surface. I also have a tiny stack of plastic drawers that house my binder clips, push pins, extra post-its, and digital photo paraphernalia such as card readers and memory cards.
What would you change about your own workspace? If I had the space, I would like a “return” on both sides of my desk. This would allow me to keep the center surface clear while allowing me to keep my “piles” organized to either side. I also wish there was a way to input USB devices into the computer in a neat way besides those “hubs” you get from Staples. I can’t tell you how many of those things I have velcro’d to the shelves above my desk in an effort to alleviate the jumble.
What do you love most about your space? I love the contrast between the rough shell with the brick and wood and the bright, white, minimal, desk surfaces and bookshelves. I also especially love my FLOR cow-print carpet tiles (below). It adds the playful touch that I needed in the space and is extremely practical for spills, stains, and possible expansion!
What inspires you? I love to solve problems. For me, being an interior designer is a blessing and a curse. I am able to create wonderful looking, functional spaces but it is very difficult to turn it off. Everywhere I look, I am evaluating what I like, what I don’t like and how I would improve something.
I also love to read and to look at design magazines and books. I am constantly clipping images and creating image files on my computer. By having this comprehensive visual library, I am able to communicate to my client (and to myself) a vision for each particular project. I create concept image boards that are an impression of the vibe of the project. I find that if these are carefully edited, they become a very accurate “visual blueprint” of the project. I may keep a page from a magazine of a room that I hate but it has a fabulous button detail that I will want to remember for a future project. I can sometimes build an entire project out of a detail like that.
As a visual artist (I studied painting and photography) I am especially aware of proportion and composition. Since so may of my projects incorporate disparate items, I use this knowledge to make them look cohesive and balanced. This is, for me, the inspiration and the challenge. How do you make something successful from nothing?