Home Office Showdown: Study, Office or Command Center

Originally published June 13, 2013

Every report confirms the fact that more and more people are working from home. Even if it is not the primary or sole location of your work space, most families have at least one person who needs a dedicated space for real work.

Personally, I have a home office that is a separate structure from my house. Now that I have it, I couldn’t function without it. The same type of space can be designed into a new home, you just have to know what you need. Give some thought to:

Privacy: Do you want visitors to be able to see in? Will you meet clients here and how do they get there through the house? Should it be open to the family?

Hours: What time of day will it be used most? Only when kids are at school? Or in evenings and on weekends when you need to remove yourself to get things done?

Function: What functions will it support? Consider all types of technology and allow for change.

A study or library is a formal room. Although many homeowners have eliminated the formal living room, we now have another formal room with a desk, credenza and leather chair. If you use a room like this, I say, go for it. However, not many American families use this space as designed. Don’t design, build and pay for a “study off the foyer” because it is the standard. If what you really want is to display a gorgeous book collection or create a sitting area apart from the public parts of the house, then let’s design THAT!

Whether your job involves working from home or not, there is work in running your home. For that you may need a Command Center. This space includes a calendar, cork board, charging station. It’s where you keep permission slips, invitations, directions, bills, etc., etc. The location of this space is critical. It must be in the center of family activity to work.

One of my favorite ways to treat this space is to give it a dedicated alcove off the kitchen. It should be deep enough for base cabinets, a countertop at 36 inches high and space on the wall to hang a cork board, white board and/or calendar. Now, here’s the cool part, recess it far enough that you can install pocket doors to close the space off. If you are having company over – or if you are just sick of looking at it – close it up, kind of a new roll-top desk. Can you see it?

I have a command center to help me organize all of my family stuff. It’s not always pretty and I regret spending extra money on the awesome granite top that I rarely get to see because of all the c.r.a.p. that gets piled there. And in the interest of full disclosure I will admit that, despite all of my space planning and design acuity, I still use my laptop at the dining room table at some point during every day. Fancy granite didn’t change my family’s piling habit and it won’t change yours either. Let’s design a space the supports the life YOU live.


 As Founder and Principal Architect of Springhouse Architects, Sheri’s mission is to lead Clients through the building process with the Clients in control and Springhouse as their guide, advocate and ally.  With over twenty years experience in Residential Architecture, Sheri brings knowledge and confidence to your custom home project.

Lisa Saldivar