April 14, 2020
Adapt, personalize, and optimize. Today, more than ever, we are taking the tools that we have and are redefining ourselves, our work lives, and our homes to find productive ways of moving forward. Award-winning interior designer, Glenn Gissler offers tips and insights with examples from his own design projects to help make your work from home situation the best it can be.
Gissler acknowledges that many of us never foresaw or wanted to work from home. Now a majority of the population is thinking about what working from home looks like, how it feels, and how it manifests itself in daily life. Some are finding out that certain tasks, like drafting, may actually be more proficiently performed from home. While others face the challenge of distractions such as routine chores, pets, other family members or inefficiencies imposed from not having central office access.
Looking forward, even bigger questions come to mind for Gissler. What would it look like if we didn’t go into an office five days a week? How do we psychologically delineate between work life and home life when they both occupy the same environment? Is it a change in lighting, scent, music that helps set boundaries or create differences so that home can be a sanctuary at one time and a place of business at another? Looking to the future, it’s inevitable that boundaries will be continually evolving.
For now, these larger questions will remain unanswered. For some practical solutions right now, Gissler looks at projects he has done for clients over recent years, before the pandemic, and extrapolates tips that may be useful as we all approach working from home.
Make Your Space Multitask
You’ve been multitasking for years, so why shouldn’t your rooms? Gissler encourages everyone to think differently about their existing surroundings and how they might function.
In this project, a room that has already been acting as dining room and library now multitasks as a home office. One end of the dining table serves as home office, while the other end still makes a great setting for family meals.
Make Room In Any Room
When creating a work-from-home space, a separate room is not a must-have to establish a successful workspace. Sometimes a “corner office” does the trick.
Gissler designed a Brooklyn Heights brownstone with a home office set up in a living room corner. He notes, “A large window gives plenty of light throughout the workday and into the evening. The Mid-Century desk by Jules Leleu and a pair of leather-wrapped Jacques Adnet chairs offer style and function.” A well-designed table and chairs help this “corner office” blend into the overall living room design with panache. Simply putting away small work accessories and closing or stowing a computer can close the office – mentally and aesthetically. That way, when the room is used for entertaining, Zoom cocktails, reading, or binge watching, the work-like function of the home office does not intrude.
Accommodate New Office Mates’ Needs
Home offices are not just for parents. By sharing an office with children studying from home, parents can set an example of good work habits while keeping an eye on youngsters (possibly easier said than done, but a parent can dream).
This mother/daughter office includes a room-long workspace surface in galvanized steel, with a purple pin-up space and display ledge. Gissler painted the child’s original blond wood furniture with durable glossy oil paint for a more playful appearance. The striped flooring from Marmoleum makes cleanup after messy school projects (or spilled coffee) easier.
Though this particular room is a discrete office space, the idea of setting up a work-school space in any home might be useful to consider. It gives each family member a personal workspace that’s all their own.
Double-up with a Partners Desk
Households with two people now working from home can get double the bang from the home office setup with a partners desk.
An Upper East Side project of Gissler’s (left) includes an antique French 1940’s cerused oak dining table, which acts as a multipurpose partners desk. A home office in a Greenwich Village townhouse (right) incorporates a custom partners worktable. Storage provided by wooden file drawers and open bookshelves is supplemented with an antique stepped Japanese Tansu cabinet.
Of historical note, when Prince Albert’s desk was moved into Queen Victoria’s office, it was considered a significant development. Within months of their marriage and during Queen Victoria’s first pregnancy, Prince Albert’s writing desk was placed side-by-side with hers so that the two could work together, which by most reports brought them closer as partners in government and their personal life. If it’s a constructive solution for the royals, it may be worth considering.
Make Display Pieces Function
Furnishings that may have previously been used for decorative display can help make every bit of space more useful.
This Greenwich Village home houses a Donald Judd desk with chairs that are not only for show. Gissler smiles when pointing out that while the chairs may not be ergonomic or ultra-comfy, they keep people alert as they get the job done (plus they’re good for the posture).
Appreciate What You Have
For those who already have a home office in place, appreciate what you have. The same goes for those with a spare room, empty corner, or free end of a table.
This Gissler-designed home office features a Kofrard Larsen desk (circa 1960) combined with a ‘Clayton Chair’ upholstered in leather. It makes a commanding control center for working from home.
There are many more things to think about when redefining a home as a primary place of work. If you want, you can tap into a design professional like Glenn Gissler. Most of all, in times like these, make the best of what you have and try to keep a positive outlook. Change is something we can’t control – how we adapt definitely is.