Living rooms to offices

When I live in Portland and I'm not working in a cafe, I work in my living room. We have a guest room/office, but it's a small bedroom and, if I'm going to be sitting around all day, I'd rather be sitting in a larger room that's right next to the kitchen (that's how I treat cafes, after all). It seems I'm not the only one, as this story from Ontario's Businss Edge describes:

"What we are seeing is that the home office has replaced the family room, and it seems to be the most utilized room in the home," says Susan Speake, owner of The Art of Working, in Oakville, Ont.

What impact does this have on the way that technology is used? Offices are traditionally the most technology-laden part of the house after the kitchen. If they're now being used as both offices and social spaces, that changes the nature of the technology that can be in them.

To utilize the passageway space, Richardson put up a full wall to block off the walkway from the dining room, but used pony walls (three feet high) that front onto the living room. The low walls provide an openness that is airy but also functional, because he can keep tabs on the kids.

"The small wall gives you all the visual separation of a room while still making the two rooms that are attached seem bigger because they are joined," he says. "It's just another trick on space without breaking a house up into teeny rooms."

I can imagine the dual-use large monitor/second TV, or a white board that works both for work and for household information sharing (much as the fridge does in the kitchen). Actual use is still unresolved--is it a situation like in the 19th century, when home businesses were more popular and people "lived upstairs" from their jobs? or more like a hobby space?--but there's likely to be a market for such flexible devices that are more specialized than just the "home entertainment PC."

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Nice to see this (especially since I grew up about 5 min from Oakville and you don't see much news from that part of the world unless it involves golf). Just last week I received a request to visit my offices from a potential client, coming from another country where this type of work environment is not the norm. So we're having a get-to-know you meeting in an environment that isn't designed as such. I believe I set their expectations appropriately, but I'm sure this will be a curious thing for them. Ideally, with some explanation as to how I work and why I've got this setup, they won't feel negatively about my qualifications.

In my home office space, one thing I did was choose a paint scheme that looked nothing like a bedroom and more like a studio setting - several different bright colors on opposing walls (think the iPod backgrounds for color), an attempt to create a stylistic zone that separates it from the rest of the house, so it's clear that a business is operating here, not that this is where my laptop and other tools are stored.




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This page contains a single entry by Mike Kuniavsky published on July 8, 2005 12:56 PM.

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