From the June 1999 issue of Startups

PROBLEM: Gold Cap Design founders Christine and Andy Madsen (at right), 28 and 31 respectively, weren't sure how much space they needed for their homebased business, which designs Web sites, skateboards, T-shirts and more, but they did know their 1,500-square-foot New York City loft wasn't nearly big enough for three designers and a baby. "We needed a place to put public things in readily accessible areas, so employees wouldn't accidentally interfere with our personal space while searching for the bathroom or kitchen," Andy says.

SOLUTION: The 700-square-foot workspace is separated from the living area by a large, modular bookshelf--open enough to allow light, but sturdy enough to act as a barrier, shielding the television, stereo and kitchen from clients. Dozens of cardboard storage boxes, stacked neatly beneath each workstation, keep the essentials organized. ("Clients don't like a messy designer," Andy explains.)

Furniture barricades the living quarters, providing pathways to workspaces and public areas. With its back to the makeshift hallway, a couch faces all home entertainment necessities, positioning the lounging resident away from wandering freelancers.

Just because the Madsens project sales of $350,000 this year doesn't mean they want to spend it all on furniture. That's why all their chairs, desks, storage systems and lights are from IKEA. "[The furniture] wasn't expensive," says Andy, "and therefore can be abused by our multitude of freelancers."

COST: $4,950

PROBLEM: Ever feel like your personal life and business are one and the same? Could it possibly have to do with the fact that your office is just two steps away from your bedroom? Image Dynamics owner Kim Zoller (at right), 30, can identify. She initially ran her professional development training business, which focuses on business etiquette, out of a spare room in her Dallas home. It was located right next to her bedroom--and with employees and clients walking in and out, privacy was nonexistent.

SOLUTION: After Zoller explained her needs, a local contractor added a 14-by-14-foot room to her home, with a separate entrance and bathroom for her two full-time and four part-time employees. "The separate entrance has made all the difference," beams Zoller, who projects sales of $300,000-plus this year. "Now no one has to go through my house anymore!"

Wall-to-wall whiteboards, built-in cabinets, cupboards and desks were specially designed to line the walls of her new home office. Three computer workstations and a circular conference table provide ample workspace for employees to create and coexist comfortably. The piece de resistance? A 71-by-47-inch window to let the sun shine in. Voilà, a home office away from home.

COST: $40,000

Contact Sources

Gold Cap Design, (212) 269-6942, info@goldcap.com

Image Dynamics, (214) 361-2687, http://www.idimage.com