From the April 1998 issue of Startups

Is your home office your castle? The homebased business owners whose offices are showcased on the following pages found it takes more ingenuity than money to turn odd spaces into dream offices. Practical yet pretty, with style and substance, these offices are obviously rooms with a viewpoint.


From The Home Office Book by Donna Paul. Text copyright© 1996 by Donna Paul. Reprinted by permission of Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing Co. Inc.

High-Rise Condo, Chicago

When planning the home office of her 31st-floor, two-bedroom apartment in a high-rise condominium overlooking the Chicago skyline, interior designer Terri Weinstein approached the process methodically. Conducting her initial inquiry into what she wanted as if she were carrying on a dialogue with a client, Terri asked herself specific questions, and made a list of everything that was important to her.

In designing the 11-by-15-foot, 165-square-foot office, Terri's goal was fourfold: Every object in the room had to have a specific place and function; everything had to be easily accessible; the space had to accommodate meetings; and finally, the renovation had to be affordable.

Terri's desk is constructed like a three-sectioned stabile. The base, containing a set of drawers for extra storage, supports two work surfaces: a cantilevered circle of natural sycamore which serves as a conference table, and an asymmetrical beech wedge, stained a deep purple, where Terri works. The wedge ells alongside the window wall to connect with a counter running along the wall behind the desk, creating a generous work space--not to mention a visually dramatic effect.

In addition to her busy practice, Terri teaches design and lighting at the Art Institute of Chicago, so she was aware of the critical part correct lighting plays in office comfort. South light streams into her office through a large wall of windows, complemented by track lighting, a desk lamp, and a string of half-inch Invizilite halogen bulbs installed under the wall cabinets behind her desk.

City-Row-House-Style Condo, San Jose, California

Life in a small condominium can be a challenge--whether or not one works at home. Space for extra, unanticipated needs is often limited, as it was in Stephen Gibson's 900-square-foot, City-Row-House-style home in San Jose, California.

Structurally, the decision of where to place the office/workshop/bedroom was predetermined by the existence of an 11-by-12-foot alcove within his L-shaped living room. To create a separation between the alcove and the larger space, Stephen, an admirer and collector of Asian art and artifacts, collaborated with a Japanese craftsman to custom-design a flexible partition of translucent shoji screens. Although the room rises to a 20-foot-high pitched ceiling, Stephen maintained a standard wall height of eight feet for the sliding screens. This enhances the open, airy mood of the room and allows light from a large fan-shaped window set into the inverted "V" of the roof to spill into both spaces. A band of copper-colored gauze runs along two walls of the alcove at the same height.