Home Offices: Blending Business and Pleasure
A home office can become a great entertainment destination.
home office library
Who says a library has to be sterile and stuffy. Photo by John Hamel.
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February 06, 2007 by EH Staff

All work and no play makes for one very unhappy home office. To lighten the mood in dens and offices, homeowners are starting to turn these once serious spaces into comfortable, inviting areas where it’s okay to have fun. And what better way to have fun than with a top-notch entertainment system that coexists peacefully with your PC, printer and other office peripherals? In fact, with the right design and equipment, the room can function as a full-fledged theater, where you can finish up your work and then push a button and relax with a good movie. And unlike your master suite, your home office isn’t such a personal space, so you’ll feel comfortable inviting the whole gang to the show. Heck, you might even be able to use that huge screen on the wall to give PowerPoint presentations to clients and colleagues who stop by your house.

Although there are many good reasons to turn your home office into a theater, proceed with caution. “Home offices and dens are typically situated at the front of the house, so you’ll lose all the drama and anticipation of having to walk to a special room at the back of the house,” says home theater designer and installer Kirby Wright of HomeWaves in Cumming, GA. “Plus, home offices are generally small and square instead of large and rectangular like [a theater] should be.” Finally, depending on your work schedule, your family members might not get to use the theater as much as they’d like.

Advantages
Mine and Yours (Sometimes). A home office is rarely the domain of the entire family. Usually, it’s a spot that one person claims as his or her own, accessible to others only in an emergency—like when your spouse needs to get online to book a flight and all of the other PCs in your house are being used. The home office is sacred ground, which means you can sneak in a movie without anyone else knowing. Sentimental saps can cry all they want to Bambi, and no one will ever know.

Major Multitasking. Many people like to work with music playing softly in the background. Some also find it helpful to put on the TV to watch CNBC or the Weather Channel. A home office that’s set up with a theater can dish out music and video while you return phone calls and polish up a presentation. And when your workload is light, you’ll be able to finish the day with something a bit more entertaining, like a 100-inch view of your favorite basketball team taking it to the hoop.

Sharing the Wealth. The PC is the linchpin of a productive home office, but it can also become an integral part of the room’s entertainment system. For example, all those graphic-intensive video games on your computer can be transferred onto the big-screen for a more engaging experience. Same goes for any movies or photos you might have stored on your PC’s hard drive.

Disadvantages
Don’t be Square. Home offices tend to be square in shape and somewhat small in size—not the large, rectangular rooms most home theater designers prefer. This setup may limit the placement of the screen and the furniture arrangement. You’ll also have to figure out how to squeeze more black boxes into a room that’s already overflowing with PCs, keyboards, monitors, printers and other equipment.

A Big Distraction. It would be hard for anyone to concentrate on their work when there’s a big, beautiful home theater staring them in the face. Think long and hard about your work habits and schedule before you load the home office with audio/video gear. If your home office is your primary place of business, it might be better to put your home theater somewhere where it will never infringe on your workday. 

No Escape. Those who do most of their work at home can relate: When you’ve been in your office all day—even if it is your own home—the last room you want to be in when it’s time to relax is your office. Of course, some people may have no problem returning to the office for a movie. Just be sure you’re one of them before you invest in the equipment.

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