Home is Where the Office Is

Four years ago, Sara and Seth Krisnow embarked on building a home in Saluda River Club for their new family — the true test, some say, of the strength of a marriage.

Robert Clark

Four years ago, Sara and Seth Krisnow embarked on building a home in Saluda River Club for their new family — the true test, some say, of the strength of a marriage. Today they are enjoying raising their two young children in their forever home. Because they wanted to make sure each room would reveal the beauty they envisioned, they were in no hurry to decorate the entire home. Sara and Seth began by decorating their family spaces and each child’s room. Their 3-year-old daughter, Olivia, is growing up in her “big girl” –– room and Irby, their young son, is mastering new skills every day in his handsome nursery. Next, they were ready to create a comfortable home office. 

“Seth decided to return to school to earn a master’s degree. We needed a room that would double as a home office and a study space,” Sara says. “So, I called Christy Davis since she decorated our children’s rooms. I knew she could design the perfect home office for us.”

While not huge, the Krisnow’s home office provides ample space for getting the job done. Their office measures 12 feet by 14 feet. “It is large enough to accommodate a desk with a chair, two side chairs, a small table and bookshelves. French doors provide an entrance, and large windows offer plenty of daylight,” states Christy Davis, owner of Christy Davis Interiors.

Over the years, Sara and Seth collected accessories and family heirlooms to incorporate into the décor. One of their most meaningful items is a desk used by Sara’s grandfather, George Rentz, during the years he was the first president and CEO of Lexington Medical Center. “Both Seth and I value family heirlooms and traditions, so we wanted to include family photos and my grandfather’s desk in our office,” Sara mentions. “From my mother, who passed away 15 years ago, we inherited a lucky bamboo plant that is close to 20 years old and 8 feet tall. We already had a beautiful Ikat rug that was a ‘keeper.’ We wanted all these items in our office.”

With two children under age 3, Sara and Seth wanted their office to function as an adult area within their family-centered home. The children are allowed to come in and play on the floor for brief periods, but they are learning to respect this new space as “Daddy’s office.”

Technology has changed lifestyles in many ways. A private home office is now the hub for family business. Sara and Seth frequently choose the office when they want to discuss business matters between themselves — itineraries and weekly plans. “It offers a quiet, intimate space,” Christy says. Despite this important role, the office has a clean, almost unused look; all equipment is wireless. Additionally, supplies and most computer equipment are tucked away from view. “Seth’s laptop can be stored in a drawer, and the printer is housed behind doors. Supplies are stored in cabinets under the bank of shelves,” Christy explains.

For storage, the Krisnows decided to add built-in shelving on one side of the room. The shelving displays family and friends’ photographs, Bibles and school books, trophies and diplomas. “Seth’s mother framed some news clippings of him when he was member of a boy band,” explains Christy. “We added those to the space for fun.” Without fail, they entertain visitors who know little of Seth’s younger life.

The Krisnows wanted to include comfortable seating and hence added two slim-lined, made-in-South Carolina chairs, separated by a small table, allowing Seth to move from behind his desk to a chair for a more relaxed conversation. “The dark charcoal, velvet-covered chairs play off of the Ikat rug that features gold, gray, blue and soft lavender-gray colors,” Christy explains.

The walls are painted Svelte Sage, a soft sage green to bring the outdoors in, by Sherwin Williams, and the moulding and built-ins feature Pure White, also by Sherwin Williams. Browns and greens round out the color pallet of the room. “The dark stained wood furniture provides contrast to the subtle, pale paints,” Christy explains.

The Krisnows also wanted to bring the outdoors in so they commissioned North Carolina artist Taylor Heinz to create a painting of the Saluda River. The resulting dramatic yet peaceful piece achieved the perfect look and blends well with the natural color scheme.  This beautiful work of art is 4 feet by 6 feet. “It is abstract, with loose brush strokes. The water has a rolling motion with misty fog settling in,” Christy tells.

Christy planned to install floor length panels on the windows, but incorporating the “must have” bamboo plant in one corner and a floor lamp in another caused the usable floor space to dwindle. “In the end, I installed faux Roman shades on the windows instead of using floor length panels. It gave Sara and Seth just the look they wanted,” explains Christy.

Some families enjoy the luxury of having two home offices. Chris Metz, of Chris Metz Interiors, has helped numerous clients achieve both home offices of their dreams. “Today’s trend is to have two offices — a formal office and a functional office,” Chris explains. “Often, you will find a formal office near the front of the home in lieu of a formal living room. This type of office is well suited for the business person who operates a home-based company and needs office space for two- or three-person meetings. All equipment is hidden from view and the desk is kept clutter free.” 

An open desk or table desk works well in the formal office. Because most work is generated online, there are no paper files to be stored in clunky desk drawers. 

 “Be sure to add a few comfortable, but business-like, chairs for client meetings,” Chris suggests. “This space can then double for reading and enjoying quiet time.” 

The second office, or functional office, can occupy an unused guest bedroom or bonus room and is seen by only the closest of friends. This is a good place for crafting, processing mail and doing homework. A functional office can be a bit messy and have a more lived-in look. “Furniture for a functional office is usually more ergonomically designed, meaning the shape and dimensions of the work space are more user-friendly and able to withstand the wear and tear of daily life,” shares Chris. “In this office, you will see cork boards for notes and family photos, magnetic strips for paper clips and scissors and other general office supplies.”

While users of a formal office are typically seated behind a 30-inch height desk, the functional office offers a number of seating heights — all geared to accommodate the person and the task. “In a functional office, the homeowner may choose a 36-inch height desk or table coupled with a high-backed bar stool,” Chris says. “This allows the user to work in a half-standing position, almost perched on the seat, but able to lean back when more support is needed. For people who prefer to work standing, the work top is 40 to 42 inches high. Working in the half-standing or standing position allows greater reach and is suitable for those who work on sprawling projects.”

Chris offers pointers for a well planned home office, whether it’s pretty or functional. “Keep equipment hidden,” she advises. “Keep the waste paper basket in a cabinet. Be sure the television is wall-mounted or enclosed.” 

With the invention of more and more communication devices, today’s office tools depend on electric current like never before — everything from the lowly pencil sharpener to 3-D printers and high definition, smart televisions require outlets. “Be sure you have enough wall- and floor-mounted outlets. Some desks accommodate charging equipment and cell phones with built-in outlets,” Chris advises. “Or build a charging station into a drawer for iPads, learning toys, cell phones and Kindles.” If possible, include these amenities during the building phase. “Then, television and data connections can be hidden in the walls,” she says. When decorating an existing office, thread wires and cables through desk grommets to hide them from view.”

Ample lighting is perhaps the most important feature in any home office, whether it’s pretty or functional. A single ceiling fixture is not enough lighting for reading or studying. “Scatter table lamps about the room and add task lighting to the desk top; even add a floor lamp,” Chris tells. 

“Of course, the best lighting of all is nature’s daylight, so an office with windows is a nice asset,” she concludes.

Home Office Hints

Stay true to your decorating style. If your home features traditional décor, continue that style into your office.

Be inspired. Paint the walls a color that pleases your creative side. Be mindful that blues, purples and greens evoke peace and balance, while reds, yellows and oranges tend to create excitement and activity. The neutrals — white, ivory, tan and grey — often show undertones of color. They are commonly called “greige.” Use them as base colors.

If you prefer a quiet space, avoid putting your home office in a corner of the kitchen or family room. High traffic areas usually provide limited work space in noisy areas.

Know your office tasks before buying furniture. Make sure the pieces are serviceable and ergonomically designed. Some chairs feature a pelvis balance point and a free shoulder back. If you work in a seated position for many hours, this type of chair could be worth your investment. Consider buying a foot rest, an ergonomically designed mouse and soft keyboard pads that allow your wrists an occasional rest.

Give thought to the layout of your work space. If you are left-handed, be sure to allow space for the printer, paper and ink supplies on your left side. A swivel chair will give you access to supplies and equipment located on either side and behind you. Keeping supplies at an arm’s length will improve your efficiency.

Minimize desk clutter. Too many open books, notes, pens and pairs of glasses on your desk can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed. A clutter-free desk leads to greater organization and increased productivity. 

Unteather: Install a wireless hub for more flexible work capabilities. Being able to shift into a standing position or to a different chair with your laptop can stimulate creative and problem-solving skills.

Proper lighting is essential. While daylight is the best source of white light, many people use their home office in the evening. If your daylight is limited, install task lighting to use in the evenings and on cloudy days. Some ergonomically designed light fixtures have dimmer switches for a controlled lighting environment. Studies indicate a yellow-cast illumination is best. To avoid glare, make sure the light source is not directly above the computer screen.

Lastly, establish set hours to work or study. This keeps your life in balance and helps you stay productive. 

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