By Lisa Peck, ASID
You fell in love, made a lifetime commitment and love being with your spouse always, right? There’s no such thing as too much time together. So true, except when we start working with a couple on designing a home office. Deciding whether to have a His & Her’s Office or His Office and Her Office may be one of the biggest decisions you will make as a couple, (I may be exaggerating a bit but your marital bliss may be at stake) When we work with couples on this important decision there are basic questions we ask first! With answers in mind we can design the ideal home office to support marital bliss!
Are you a stacker or a filer?
If you have two different styles of storing your paperwork it may mean you must have separate spaces. I’ve seen a wife give her husband the death stare over a pile of Manila folders. Sure he knows just where in the pile is the file with the deed to the house but she can’t stand looking at the visual mess of the pile.
In these cases, if we can we divide work spaces for this couple into two areas of the home. In the best case scenario the stackers space is behind closed doors.
If there is simply not enough space for separate offices we have some strategies that are (almost) fool proof. The stacker is given open shelves that face into his work area. The other spouse sees a neatly paneled cabinet side and the stacker has shelves of stacking space only he can see. In our experience, stackers may not even bother to open a cabinet door so open shelves that are concealed from view are a key strategy.
Do you need acoustical privacy?
Perhaps your work requires you to have highly-sensitive phone conversations or maybe you like to munch on carrots or chips while you work. If you need acoustical privacy for your work there are two solutions. Noise cancelling headphones or separate work spaces. Let’s face it, if you need privacy while you work, sharing space isn’t a possibility. A door must separate your office from the rest of the home. Make it happen and in the long run you world will be a happier place to be.
Do you need to spread out when you work?
I once had a client who worked on real estate law in her home office. The incredible amount of papers she needed to spread out and peruse on a daily basis were astounding. She liked to leave them out and be able to see multiple documents at once, including surveys and other large documents. She was not a candidate for sharing her office with her spouse. Many people however, work primarily on their computers and have little need for lay-by space, they can share office space without causing a marital rift.
When do you work from home?
Perhaps you both work intensely at home in the evening. Maybe one of you are an early riser and the other a night owl. You can see where I’m going with this one, right? If your schedules are opposite there is little need for concern in sharing a home office. Both work in the evening….then you need to seriously consider the above questions a get real with your spouse. If you do not have compatible work styles, there is such a thing as too much together time.
Our very best design advice, no matter what project you are undertaking, is to design daily stressors out of your life. That may mean designing your spouses annoying piles right out of your sight line.