- By H.M. Cauley For the AJC
As home design evolves to keep up with current trends in technology and style, elements that seemed critical just a decade ago are making way for floor plans better suited to the way owners live today. Among the latest to go the way of the TV in the built-in cabinet is the home office.
“As a builder and remodeler, I’m seeing a big transition happening right now,” said Judy Mozen, president of the Roswell-based Handcrafted Homes Inc. “Business is being conducted all over the home; sometimes it’s the couch in the living room or the bed in a bedroom. If owners are younger than 45, they’re roaming around the house to where ever they feel comfortable.”
The accents once considered must-haves for a home office – fax machines, land-line phones and banks of electrical outlets – have given way to the wireless modem that can turn any nook or cranny into a work center. “And with everything now stored on the cloud, people don’t use fax machines or print anything. Young people say they don’t need all those things, and they’re a lot less tied down like we used to be.”
But some owners still want a designated area where they can close the door on the clutter, the shredder and the file cabinets.
“They also need a place to talk on the phone,” said Mozen. “When you’re dealing with a client or a boss, there’s still a need to find a private area.”
Mozen has worked on various home office projects, including turning a sunroom into a work area with beamed ceilings, an exposed brick wall, a small desk, comfortable chairs and a closet for the file cabinets. Another turned a lower-level room into a secluded office area with access to the outside. She’s also seen requests for stand-up stations in the kitchen near a drawer fitted with charging stations for electronic devices. What no one seems to want is the living room-turned-office.
“How many times have we seen someone put French doors on the living room and say it’s now an office?” said Jay Kallos, the vice president of architecture for the Roswell-base Ashton Woods. “It was a configuration we saw a lot a decade ago, but I know my wife doesn’t want our company to see my office. There are plenty of other options.”
Many of Ashton Woods’ plans feature rooms large enough for a desk and furniture, all easily hidden behind barn doors. The townhouses at Aria in Sandy Springs have a terrace level that can double as a single or suite of offices. Designs at Brookhaven’s Arrington Place offer similar options, while at The Grove in Milton, a detached two-car garage has more than 400 square feet that could easily be an office or studio.
“That really appeals to the buyer who wants to go out one door and in another, or who doesn’t want an office that’s part of the house proper,” said Kallos. “You can literally go out to work. And we can accommodate whatever they need –bookshelves to special wiring.”
Whether homeowners are working at home or not, they’re less likely to find one component of the kitchen/keeping room in any of the latest floor plans, said Kallos.
“That desk in the kitchen is almost embarrassing now,” he said. “If someone really wants one, we can carve out a little desk in a cubby area. The kitchen should be a place to cook and entertain, and the office or study should be a place to be productive somewhat removed from the hubbub. But it’s still possible that your office can now be your favorite chair in the family room.”