How to Design a Productive and Profitable Home Office

Home Offices: Invariably the first thought that comes to mind is “do I want to work from home or in an office?’ Most entrepreneurs have this flexibility and more companies are providing flex time allowing employees the opportunity to choose this option.

I now have an office away from home. I find myself to be far more productive perhaps being away from the siren’s cry of dishes in the sink and laundry to be folded not to mention the countless interruptions by delivery men or the home phone was what led me to take a space. Primarily, I made the move because it’s hard to explain how I design corporate offices and not have one of my own. That being said, there are many who love working from home.

So how does one do this and make it work effectively?

Avery Design Interiors

1. Carefully choose your space. A computer in your bedroom is not a great option. Bedrooms are for sleeping. Either you are going to be falling asleep at the computer or awake late at night thinking about that screen beckoning you for one last email.

I have placed offices in under-utilized dining rooms, kitchens, spare bedrooms, shared guest rooms, basements and even reconfigured closets.

At our Silvermine (Fairfield County, CT) house, we had a large shared office in the spare bedroom (see above). In our current home, we have used the shared guest room technique – small desk, small daybed. My husband has a sizeable home office space in the lower level family room with a large project desk that any of us can use for drawing, fabric layouts or arts and crafts for our youngest office user. In a New York City apartment I created a desk area from a closet.

2. The family balance. Is there really work life balance? That’s a different post. But I know from personal experience that short of a padlock, it’s unrealistic for work at home moms (and dads) to keep their littlest ones out of their home offices.

Source: via Avery on Pinterest

Create a small area (if you have enough space) with a mini desk or table and chairs designated just for the kinder set. I love the little seat/nook shown above for a child to curl up in and read a book. This home office was tucked into a closet. Provide them with their own “office supplies” crayons, pencils, etc. so they can “work” too. Children love to help. Have some envelopes you need stuffed and stamped? You might just have an able assistant at your side. Can’t hurt to ask. And after a little while, they just might decide playing with trucks or Barbies is a whole lot more fun.

3. Be sure to invest in a proper chair and lighting. Balancing the laptop on your lap while you sit curled on the sofa all day is asking for hours at the chiropractor. As much as your local chiropractor would love the work, they value your spine and want you to value it too.

Source: via Avery on Pinterest

Ideally, you want a sunny spot where the light does not reflect on your computer screen. In the absence of or in addition to natural light, Nikken makes a wonderful full spectrum light called the Kenko II, if you don’t want to bring in an electrician for an overhead electrical overhaul.

Want to learn more about setting up the furnishings in your home office? Click on Office Ergonomics for more details.

(From top: cartoon from Brad Shorr’s guest post on Spark Plug CEO, photo Avery Design Interiors, all other photos from Pinterest)

Happy Mothers Day!

The card I received for Mothers Day…does it get any better than this?

Mother's Day Card

My top 5 best childhood memories of my mother in no particular order

Going to NYC – either wandering the New American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or seeing The Nutcracker Ballet. This one is a tie.

Brushing her very long hair.

Going to antique shows – how many kids ask for an antique secretary for their birthday?

Breakfast for dinner – oh yeah!

Sprinkling water all over her feet, with my brother, in the hot summer while she begged us – ‘no’ ‘stop’. Years later she told us she loved it. Funny…and now that I am a mom I will add very clever. I might have done this once or twice. Shhhhh…don’t tell.

Interior Design: Library Update

I am in the last days of working on the Library project for my client. We spent several days last week shopping and found the perfect rug, a great lampshade for her Simon Pearce glass table lamp, a floor lamp and several pillows. With every purchase, we kept in mind her two young children.

  • Could a lamp be shaken and toppled? No.
  • Should we skip the precious glass vase in the center of the coffee table and put a book instead? Yes.
  • Would one child grab the heavy urn and bash the other one in the head? Turns out no, but it was worth asking.

The draperies are installed and the client loves them! A great special touch is the pinch pleat sheers on traverse rods which allows my client to open them during the day for extra light but close them as needed for privacy.

library, accessories, art, furnishing, interior design, inspiration, lighting, Ruth NewquistSince I am days away from posting some photos, here is the design inspiration board to whet your appetite. This is what I presented to my client prior to shopping to give a sense of the overall look and how my ideas for lighting and accessories would work with the new fireplace and rug.

Since my readers are regularly asking me about the interior design process, I have listed the steps for this project below.

The Process

First, we measured and created a space plan for the furnishings and location of the fireplace. Then we designed and oversaw the construction of the fireplace as shown above.

Next, we added sconces and overhead swivel lighting to accent the fireplace and the piece of art by local artist, Ruth Newquist. We are still choosing between two paintings so it is not yet purchased. 

We chose a beautiful embroidered taupe linen fabric from Cowtan & Tout for the draperies. Photos will be an upcoming post. These and the sheers were just installed.

I then worked with the client to move the furniture into a new layout that would create a seating area facing the fireplace.

The rug was the next purchase as I knew its colors would dictate those of the accessories. The coffee table that was originally in this room hid the beautiful new rug from Safavieh, so we swapped it with the family room table.

The client already had a Simon Pearce lamp but I thought the shade needed updating. This is a great way to bring in an unexpected splash of color without breaking the bank.

Next week, I will be hanging the turquoise boat painting next to it above the console.

The client also needed new end tables, a floor lamp, a table lamp, pillows and accessories. I riffed on the turquoise in the painting for my accent color using cool and subtle acquas in the accessories to balance the warm peach walls.

Can’t wait to show you the final photos.

I love to hear from you. What is your process for updating or renovating a room?

(for paintings by Ruth Newquist)

Kids and Hearts in Interior Design

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have a girl who loves hearts and wondering how to incorporate them into her room?

For your baby’s nursery

candy, valentine's day, hearts, baby, decor, interior design, pink

from Literaturesoft



weedecor, pink, tree, baby, nursery, interior design, decor
from WeeDecor


tinytotties, hearts, pink, girls, decor, interior design, room

from TinyTotties

For your T(w)een


pink, teen, tween, decor, interior design, white, storage, nabuzz

From naBUZZ

study area, teen, tween, heart, pink, interior design, decor, room

From naBUZZ

storage, teen, tween, girls, hearts, room, decor, interior design

From naBUZZ

I love to hear from you. What is your daughter’s dream decor?



Three Quick Interior Design Tips for your Coat Closet

With the holidays right around the corner, I delved into organizing my front hall coat closet yesterday to make room for guests. If you aren’t quite ready to start the cooking or put up the decorations, this is a great way to get ready for the holidays.

organization, coat closet, interior design, Martha Stewart

Coat Closet - Martha Stewart Home

1. Clear out the Clutter

As you go through the coats, hats, scarves and mittens that have accumulated over the years, pull out the single mittens and gloves and any coats you haven’t worn in more than a year. Be sure to check that your kids’ winter gear still fits too. The no longer worn or outgrown coats, hats etc. can find a good home in one of the many coat drives being held near you. Person to Person is one such organization in Fairfield County, CT.

containers, storage, organization, interior design

2. Group Like Items

Use clear bins or pretty boxes to contain each person’s mittens, gloves and hats. You can also have a bin for the family dog or cat with leashes, treats, toys or brushes. I particularly like open bins, such as the maize bins from The Container Store on the left, because they are open. Your kids are more likely to put away their mittens and hats when they can easily toss them in.

I also suggest bins for summer travel and winter travel. Summer could include sunscreen, sunglasses etc. Winter could include ski goggles, snowpants and more sunscreen.

If you or your children have a favorite hobby like photography, astronomy or bird-watching, having a separate bin with your gear right there in your hall closet would make it much easier to find one the way out the door.

Put the bins you need the most frequently near the bottom of the closet – for easy kid accessibility. And the bins you don’t access that often can reside on the top shelf.

wallpaper, closet, organization, interior design
3. Add Pattern or Color

If you are really feeling motivated, you could wallpaper the back of the closet or paint it an unusual color. Imagine your guests’ surprise when they open the closet and see something other than the typical white. And because it is a small space you can let your imagination run free. Who can forget Jamie Drake’s dreamy pink and purple confection of a closet at the Kips Bay Showhouse?
If that’s too much color for you, you can always choose colored bins – color code each family member or category – or even colored hangers.
It’s a small space – let’s put the fun in the functional!
I love to hear from you. What’s your one must-do home project that you want to accomplish before the holidays?

What’s Cooking in our Kitchen: Chili Con Carne

kitchen, interior design, kids, family friendly, cooking, fallWith Fall in the air and the leaves at their peak here in Fairfield County, our stove is bubbling over with those great family dishes that warm you up down to your toes after pumpkin picking.

Here’s a family recipe that is sure to please the kids. Don’t forget that they can help you cook too. And then they will announce proudly at the dinner table that they cooked dinner. It’s a great cure for a picky eater.

From the Avery Family’s Kitchen

Perfect for these fall days, afternoon tailgate parties and the slow home movement:
my mom’s awesome chili.

Chili Con Carne

2 lbs. lean ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 oz. can chili powder
1 medium onion, chopped
3 14 to 16 oz. cans red kidney beans
2 35 oz, cans tomatoes
3 to 4 bay leaves
10 whole cloves
dash of red pepper to taste (optional)

Brown the ground beef in minimal amount of butter or in a stick proof skillet. Salt and pepper beef to taste.
Add the onions and chili powder and stir well.
Transfer to a soup pot.

Slightly mash the tomatoes and add these with their juice.
Add the kidney beans and add some water by rinsing out their cans.
Add bay leaves and cloves. (My mom taught me to put the cloves and bay leaves in a tea strainer and hang it over the side of the pot).
Add red pepper to taste if you like.

Simmer on low heat for at least two hours to all day, stirring occasionally.
Remove tea strainer of cloves and bay leaves.

Serve as is or with any of the following toppings:
shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, sour cream, hot sauce, cilantro

Add corn bread and a tossed salad and you are done.

This is at least as good the next day!

I love to hear from you. What’s cooking in your kitchen?

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