Apartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home (2015)
living in your home
NEW YORK CITY
NEW YORK CITY
Necessity breeds creativity—especially when you’re trying to fit a substantial work space into a tiny, 430-square-foot apartment. This resourceful homeowner’s solution was to turn an awkwardly shaped hallway and closet into an office with storage galore.
This space works because of the built-in desk surface lining the wall. Coated in a light gray, it provides a large work platform while taking up very little of the actual room. In small areas like this, built-in elements are always the best option.
Behind the desk, one closet was turned into floor-to-ceiling storage by removing the door and adding elfa shelving. (When guests come over, the whole thing is hidden behind a curtain.) The solutions continue under the desk, which houses two file cabinets that can easily be wheeled out when more surface area is needed. A set of large white magnet boards on the wall showcase the homeowner’s constantly changing sources of inspiration.
If you’re having a function-versus-space struggle, start by listing your “wants” in order of necessity. If something is truly a priority, you’ll find room for it.
LABEL MASTER. As a photographer, Emily deals with large amounts of data stored across multiple hard drives. The key to her filing system? Labels! She names every hard drive and every file.
WIDTH OVER DEPTH. Next time you’re in the market for a desk, keep this in mind: having a wide surface tends to be more helpful than a deep one because it keeps everything in plain sight.
a color-coded office
Brenda + David Bergen
Graphic Designer + Digital Media Consultant
Even the smallest slice of room can be transformed into a successful work space as long as it ticks the boxes you need to stay motivated: a bit of privacy for focus, plenty of light to keep spirits up, and enough storage space that your projects stay organized and your desktop remains neat and clean.
Technically, this sunny office is nothing more than a small platform connecting the home’s main stairwell to its rooftop deck. But thanks to some smart space planning, it functions as a full-time work space. A shallow, inexpensive desk provides just enough room for the computer station. Pieced together from two gray metal cabinets and a cut-to-size white countertop, this DIY desk is purposely placed in front of the windows for a fantastic view of the neighboring treetops.
The rest of the long, narrow space is used solely for storage. Not an inch is wasted, with a floor-to-ceiling installation of simple, wall-mounted shelving. Books are used for both information and inspiration. Color-coded, clearly labeled storage boxes—of various shapes and sizes—house everything from magazines to business contracts. And a few family treasures keep the highly functional office from veering too far into “all work” territory.
TINY TREASURES. Even in a compact space organized for maximum efficiency, you should find some room for a plant. This one enjoys the view from above on a wall-mounted ledge.
the den of creativity
Moon Rhee + Heyja Do
Shop Owners, Dear: Rivington+
A creative person’s office is easy to spot. It bucks the traditional elements and, instead, is built to spark thought and artistic energy.
This space is a wonderful example of just that: all the furniture is vintage, but it comes from multiple eras. A mid-century modern Eames chair sits next to a nineteenth-century French side chair paired with a unit of metal storage cabinets found at an abandoned school in New Orleans (currently being used as a makeshift filing system for delicate work). The mix of designs makes for an intriguing juxtaposition that’s also a lot less formal than the typical set of matching office furniture.
The drawback to a lot of creative spaces is that they can very quickly become messy and overcrowded. But the fashion designers who live here do a lovely job of curating this joint office. The clusters of interesting objects have been thought through and considered. And while there is a lot going on, there is a lot of carefully preserved empty space, too. Collections are only as powerful as your ability to focus on them. Too many objects without breathing room will be more distracting than inspiring.
WRINKLE FREE. Interesting collections come in all shapes and sizes. This couple happens to have a thing for tiny antique irons, which line the window frame behind the desk.
SEND OUT THE BAT SIGNAL. On top of this storage cabinet sits a hard-to-find Batman figurine. Amidst all the “serious” supplies, a nod to Gotham’s finest is a nice change of pace.
DIY ART. This painting, done by Moon in the style of Willem de Kooning, is one of a few in the home that successfully mimic iconic pieces.
the sun porch–turned-office
Anne Ziegler + Scott Mason
Trend Forecaster + Entertainment Executive
The moment these newbie house hunters laid eyes on this light-filled room, they knew it was the place for them. Where most people saw a sun porch, this couple saw the home office of their dreams.
With two floor-to-ceiling glass doors, each opening onto its own balcony, and an entire wall of windows, this office feels equal parts indoors and out—a perk that they take full advantage of. More often than not, the doors and windows are left open to let in the California breeze.
Almost all the furniture is streamlined, industrial, and most important, white. It blends right into the walls, taking up little visual space in the already narrow room. The single exception is an overstuffed armchair decked out in a wild Josef Frank fabric (one half of a matching set that’s split between this space and the living room). Just behind the chair is what could be called an “extra office on wheels”: a long table and filing cabinet that are rolled in to accommodate more work stations during busy times of year.
The real “wow” factor of this room, though, comes from its restraint. In a sea of white-on-white, a few fun pops of highlighter-pink and cerulean blue, as well as some graphic black-and-white art, bring the whole space to life.
PIN IT. Anne’s black-and-white inspiration board, a throwback to the days before Pinterest, is lovingly collected from magazine clippings, fashion show invites, and photo booth pictures.
TRIPLE STACK. Clara von Zweigbergk’s Kaleido trays (spread across the desk and file cabinet here) are a color explosion of function and fun. They serve as a catchall for tiny pieces when assembling a project, or a tabletop art installation on every other day.
an office with a view
Christopher Coleman + Angel Sanchez
Interior Designer + Fashion Designer
Essentially, this tiny work space is nothing more than a narrow desk, a chair, and a wall-mounted lamp. It’s squeezed tightly into the corner of an open but small living space (roughly 400 square feet) that also contains the kitchen, living room, and dining room. So how did the homeowner keep sitting in this nook from feeling like an adult time-out? The nice, light-filled window.
Sometimes no amount of creative floor planning and multifunctional furniture can create the additional space you’re after—especially in a high-traffic room like this. But if you have a window, placing a desk directly in front of it is the best way to sneak in some office space. The expansive view outside makes up for the lack of room inside.
The strategic use of color is an equally smart, visually space-saving solution here. Matching the largest pieces of furniture (the desk and chair) with the shade of the natural Douglas fir walls helps the office “blend” into the corner, minimizing clutter in the room. A few well-placed pieces of art make this an inspiring spot to work.
IN THE CLEAR. Mounting a French swivel light on the wall, instead of having a lamp on the desk, clears precious surface space for laptops and keyboards.
STICKS & STONES. Keeping with the woodsy theme, these homeowners had some fun with their interpretation of desk supplies: pencils are made of twigs, letter openers are painted like feathers, and found rocks double as paperweights.
the artist’s work table
NEW YORK CITY
Michele Varian + Brad Roberts
Shop Owner, Michele Varian + Musician
This is not a neat and tidy office. All manner of art supplies are scattered across the desk. Even more scraps of fabric, bits of yarn, and rolls of decorative paper line a nearby set of extra-tall industrial shelves. And tiny, inspirational odds and ends fill stacks of decorative boxes on the floor. But if you ask the artist and designer who works here what goes where, she can pinpoint every last paintbrush and square inch of ribbon.
There’s a method to the madness of this contained chaos—one that might only make sense to its creator, but, in reality, that’s the only person who matters. At the center of it all is a large, smoothly worn table with enough space for multiple projects to be laid out at once. The pillow-filled window seat serves as a sort of home base, but the spacious nook is built for movement. There’s plenty of open area to stand up and scoot around the table, working on one project, then focusing on the next.
A room like this is a glimpse at an artist in motion. The creative process dictates the placement of every detail—and that is a beautiful thing.
PILLOW TALK. The pillows that line this cozy corner nook are all the homeowner’s own creations. The large felted bird in the corner has become a signature design for her store.