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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Home Offices

"Office" stems from the Latin officium meaning "service", "(sense of) duty", "courtesy", "ceremony" and refers to the working room of an official of the government. There was also the scriptoriums where monks handcopied the scriptures. Scriptorium means "a place for writing" and is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the copying of biblical manuscripts. They would have been rooms off the library of the monastery. There weren't as many as we might think.

Chancery is a general term for a medieval writing office, responsible for the production of official documents. The medieval chancery was usually the place where most government letters were written and where laws were copied in the administration of a kingdom. The rooms of the chancery often had walls full of pigeonholes, constructed to hold rolled up pieces of parchment for safekeeping or ready reference, a precursor to the book shelf or filing cabinet.

The term "red tape" comes from the way solicitors used to file. They would gather all the documents for a case and stack them and tie them with red tape to keep them together. Remember this was before they had file folders, hanging files and file cabinets. They stored their files horizontally in flat files.

Roll top desks had all the little organizing cubby holes and flat file drawers that the office of the 19th century needed.

The offices of yesterday have shaped the offices of today but we have come a long way! The office was a place to do your work and store your necessary files. But they had less paper back then and so their methods of filing and organizing were very different than they are today. Cubby holes, flat filing were their way of organizing. And everything was in wood. Usually good hardwood like oak and walnut. This made them very heavy but since you can still find them, it means they were well made.

How would you like to sit in this all day long typing with the old timey typewriters. I learned on one and your fingers had to have strength to push those keys. Talk about carpal tunnel syndrome!?! And your timing had to be good or all those mechanical keys on legs would jam up. And you had to be meticulous because mistakes and typos were a pill to fix. Most of the time, you just had to rip out the paper and start over again!

Notice the typing desk? The typewriter is bolted on a flip shelf. When not in use, the typewriter flipped upside down which made the desk flat. When the typewriter was needed, you flipped it back over and it gave you the correct hand position. My parents had a desk just like this one at one time. We used it a lot but not with the typewriter. Also notice all the flat file drawers and cubby holes.

If you were a VIP or wealthy, you might have an office chair like this one.

The old wooden pieces can still be found and will function very well. If you luck up on a bargain antique desk or file cabinet, it's worth thinking outside the box!

With the Industrial Revolution, businesses grew astronomically and the availability of paper and the printing presses meant more and more bookkeepping. So offices in the business world required more and more clerical workers and managers to keep up with the paper work. Technology changed rapidly and soon the office had to change to accomodate the technology. For instance, everything used to have to be written by quill and ink. Then we got printing presses. Then more readily available paper. And pencils and ink pens. Then typewriters. Then carbon paper in order to make at least one copy of each typewritten page. The ballpoint pen came out in the 1930's. Then there were the electric typewriter. Then we jumped to dedicated word processors. Then big bulky computers and now the trim, flat screen computers. So for centuries mankind was using bird feathers and homemade inks on parchments that were handmade. The printing press was such a giant leap. But with the Industrial Revolution, within 150 years, we went from pencil and paper to emails and online conferencing. My Grandfather was born in 1898 and he would be 113 today. So within his, my parent's and my generation, we have gone from paper and pencil to computers and emails. That is a very rapid change considering the thousands of years before.

After the wooden office furniture, came the steel age. We had the old steel desks, filing cabinets, credenzas, steel office chairs, etc. The old steel office furniture is still available too. Made like tanks, they still work and function perfectly. Refurbishing vintage steel office furniture makes for some nice pieces that will still last you forever. It looks particularly attractive in modern decor. They are very heavy so the mobility is limited unless you have some very strong backs. But, once placed, they last forever. I mean, a desk you purchase today will be lucky to last a few years. The pressed wood under the laminate is not a particularly lasting material. And they are less attractive. The old steel desks are at least 50-60 years old and still going strong. Can you say that about the desk you buy today?

Go with the original patina or have them sandblasted and brought to a shiny steel or have them repainted in any color you want!

The real steel chair, not the cheap lookalikes.

A steel credenza

In my first home office, I used old steel filing cabinets like these with a countertop over them for my desk. It worked beautifully. This looks like a good idea for a kitchen too.

There was a swing back to wood and the dark walnut desks were in style.

I currently have one of these walnut executive desks and it's a jewel. Mine doesn't have the floating desktop. But it has a laminate desktop like this one which was smart as laminate doesn't get scratched up. It had the look of wood but the scratch resistance of laminate. These are heavy desks too.

Today, it's not just wealthy businessmen who need home offices. Everyone of us need a place to do our business and put in our computer time. If we are blessed, we have a separate room for a home office. But many have to think outside the box and make space for our home office. I did some Googling to find ideas for home offices. I tried to find ideas for those who have to carve a space out of another room and for those of us who have dedicated rooms. People are so creative and I found a lot of different styles to give you some ideas.

First you need to decide what you need an office for. What are you needs and interests. Will you be doing crafting in your office? Genealogy, like me? Do you keep a checkbook (the simple way) or do you keep detailed financial records like I do? Are you writing a book or writing in your journal? Is it research or school work? Are you using it to go through your mail and send cards and invitations? What do you need to store in your office? Will one file drawer be enough or do you need a bank of file cabinets? Decide what you need and what you need to store.

Then decide where your office will be. Will it be in a closet? A corner of the den? Will you use the 3rd bedroom for an office? Will you use the breakfast room or have a kitchen desk? Will you use the sitting area in your master bedroom? The bonus room? Maybe you don't use a formal dining room but you would use an office every day... then maybe you should use the dining room as your office. Maybe you need total privacy to work at home so you may consider buying a separate storage shed and insulating it and turning it into an office. Remodel a garden shed or separate garage. Or finish a basement or attic room for an office. I use our sunroom for an office. Originally it was a sun porch with large windows, skylights, plant shelf and tile floor. But I don't need a sunroom. So it made a perfect office.

Keep in mind that it needs to work for you! It needs to be functioning first and foremost. Then it needs to be organized and efficient. And, finally, it needs to appeal to you. It should be attractive in your eyes. You don't want it to be a place you dread to go to, but a retreat where you can get things done. It doesn't have to be magazine perfect. In fact, if it is, you won't want to "mess it up" by doing work there. But it does need to be funtioning.

For me I need a TV in my office. This makes it homey for me. I watch my soaps while I'm working on a project or updating my finances. But maybe you like music or quiet is conducive to your work. Some people like having a window with a view. Some young mothers need a corner for a playpen or a children's play center. Some need bookshelves and others need storage shelves, etc. Some people like having a plant in their office or some family photos, others like the minimalist look. It must function and appeal to you! The chairs you sit in for any length of time should be comfortable! And some people need dual work stations. For instance a desk for the husband and a desk for the wife or two children or you and your assistant. You want good lighting and you need plenty of electrical outlets.

Now here are the ones I found on the Internet. Thanks for the great ideas!

Notice how the round table can scoot back to the desks and used as part of the desk!

Office Ideas


Anonymous said...

Great post! I found your page with a Google search for office ideas. Thanks for taking the time. You have lots of great ideas here. Thanks for the inspiration.

Heather said...

Thank you for the fascinating post!

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