Blending work life and home life can be a test of both functional design and family cooperation. Homeowners may find that a den, spare bedroom, or attic is an ideal location for an office. But these options are usually unavailable to the average apartment dweller confined to limited space and a less compromising layout. A home office tucked into an alcove off a living room or behind pocket doors in a dining room may be a good solution for some apartment residents because these rooms function well for greeting visitors or holding meetings. New York City literary agent Richard Curtis and his wife, author Leslie Tonner, hired interior designer Joan Halperin to create an elegant and efficient work space in a heavily trafficked area of their 1,300-square-foot apartment–the living room.
Realizing that the alcove is a pretty snug fit for two people, the couple decided that an office designed for serial rather than simultaneous use was the best solution for accommodating their work schedule and the entire family’s daily routine. “The office is constantly occupied,” says Curtis. “But my wife and I rarely work in the space at the same time.” Halperin designed a wraparound worksurface (comprising three individual pieces) to help make efficient use of the area and maximize desk space. There’s a 62-inch-long-by-17 3/4-inch-wide return, a 92-inch-long and 21 1/2-inch-wide platform, and a 3 3-inch-long-by- 17 3/4-inch-wide countertop. Adequate storage was also a big concern for the entrepreneurs. “My husband works with a number of authors, and I have a lot of research material,” says Tonner. “We’ve got hundreds of books.” So beneath the left return and right countertop sit two-shelf lateral files. The main working platform has a slide-out accessory drawer. Their abundant book selection is stored on six shelves measuring 134 inches long and 11 feet high built into the wall along the conference room/dining area. A partition made of bleached-oak, paned glass, and sheetrock establishes a distinctive work zone. And the complementary color scheme and custom bleached-oak cabinetry creates a sense of continuity between their professional and leisure space.
Claiming a spot in front of their Power Mac 6100 (not shown) is like playing a game of musical chairs for this dual self-employed couple. Tonner commands the workstation during weekdays. And Curtis, who also rents a small commercial space, uses the Mac in the early mornings and late evenings during the week and about 12 hours on the weekend. If a schedule clash arises, either Curtis or Tonner pulls out their old trusty Toshiba notebook and works at the seven-foot-long by three-and-a-half-foot wide dining/conference table. When used for work, the table is anchored to the floor-to-ceiling bookshelf with special pegs. But it also comes with a wood base covered with Formica allowing for easy conversion to a freestanding unit that comfortably seats eight for dining.
An office design that blends with your home decor and furnishings requires a careful selection of furniture that permits living and working to overlap within small spaces. Curtis and Tonner hired a designer and contractor to build their custom-design dream office.