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New house office location

Lore Bennett
11 months ago

We are in the beginning process of building a house. I can not seem to decide on the office location. I am a teacher and have lived for the past 6 years in a house with the office in the front of the house. For some reason I never use it. I would rather sit in our bedroom and do school work. Maybe it’s because I do so much of it that I feel like if I sat in the office to do my school work I would just live in there. I had thought about putting a sitting room off our new master and putting a desk in their but they house plans we fell in love with have the office of course at the front of the house. I would love to know your thoughts and opinions on what would be the best option.

Comments (33)

  • cpartist
    11 months ago

    When my kids were growing up, I kept a desk in the family room. Of course I didn't need quiet for what I did so it worked fine.

    When you say you fell in love with a house plan, have you instead considered working with an architect to create a plan that would put an office exactly where you want it?

  • Lore Bennett
    Original Author
    11 months ago

    I have thought about it but thought it might be cheaper to have at least a starting point. The problem with most houses is when the office is up front if you take that away you would mess up the front of the house Structure wise though

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  • Lore Bennett
    Original Author
    11 months ago

    This is the current plan we have picked



  • jkent9024
    11 months ago


    I second @cpartist's recommendation to consult an architect. My DH and I had assumed one would be ridiculously out of our price point, but we found it was more cost effective to hire one than to buy a stock plan, pay all of the customization fees, change orders, and draftsman fees only to get a home that ALMOST is everything we want. You can definitely look at stock plans to get a better feel for what you like/don't like, but an architect could get you exactly what you want, including an office at the back of the house.

    Our office is technically at the front of the house (it's windows overlook the front yard) but it's accessed through a back hallway that also connects the laundry, garage, pantry and back door, so it doesn't feel like it's at the front of the house. Or at least, we hope it won't--we're still early in the building stage.

  • anj_p
    11 months ago

    I thirdly vote for getting an architect on board!

    Regarding your office: in our custom plan, we designed in two pocket offices: one for my husband and one for me. We put them on our second level - due to budget and our lot, we needed to do a 2 story house, so I wanted our entire main level to be accessible/usable for everyone and not have an area reserved for just one person (like a main floor office). We did pocket offices because, again, for cost reasons we couldn't afford two full sized offices, but we both need separate WFH space. They were small - 6x10, but enough space for a wall desk and chair. Plus, I don't really care how much space I have behind me while I'm working. In the future (after retirement), the wall between our pocket offices could have been removed to create a larger 10x12 room.

    If you want your private and public spaces separate, then I fully agree with that approach. I don't think it matters where the office IS (front vs. back of house), but where it is in relation to other rooms. Whatever you do, if this is your forever home make sure you create it as a space that can be dual purpose.

  • shivece
    11 months ago

    I suggest you try to really pin down all the reasons why you prefer your bedroom to your current office. It may be a “feeling” rather than a “logical” reason. Does the master have a more spacious feel, a better view, more windows, colors/decor you prefer, more convenient to other things you do while working, better layout/storage of items you use? Home offices are often separated from other areas of the house and distractions to minimize interruption and noise. Is your bedroom more or less interruption free/quiet than your current office? If you prefer a more spacious feel, perhaps you can modify the office in your plan to be more open to the back of the house. Everyone is different and sometimes small changes make a big difference in the feel of living space.

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    11 months ago

    I have to agree this plan has many issues that need addressing. There is no way I want to walk past the laundry to get to my master and no way I want to go through the bathroom to get to the closet.Howmany bedrooms do you need? I have to say an architect will hopefully save you from this house plan .Bedrooms off the great room never a good idea I just think you can do a lot better for layout with the help of an architect .By the time you fix this plan with all the changes it needs you would be better off with an architect.

  • Lore Bennett
    Original Author
    11 months ago

    As weird as it sounds I think I feel isolated or uncomfortable just sitting at a desk in the office. I’m not sure why. I usually sit on the bed with my stuff everywhere to be able to hang out with my husband while doing my school stuff. If I’m sitting in an office nobody wants to come hang out in an office.

  • Lore Bennett
    Original Author
    11 months ago

    This plan also has a bonus room upstairs which was a want. The other wants were 4 bedrooms downstairs, with one of the kids bedrooms having their own bathroom. We also wanted the kitchen open to the living with a big island and I didn’t want the dining room at the front of the house.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    11 months ago

    Talk to a few local sole practitioner architects near you. See what they can do for you in your unique situation. Their fees vary as do their services. They do not bite. Each one of your comments say, "I need an architect".

  • decoenthusiaste
    11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    You do know that guests are not going to cut through the dining/kitchen and enter the master wing to use the powder room, right? You'll end up sending them to bathroom #2. Do you have kids? I assume the bedroom wing is theirs and would guess they generate a lot more dirty laundry than is produced in the master wing. Do you want to schlep their dirties across the whole house to wash? How about a stacking set in bath #2 instead of two sinks? If kids are teens they can start learning how to do their own laundry before moving out! I would make the office a media/game room for the kids and continue to use the bedroom for a quiet place to grade papers, etc. Agree you should eliminate any closets accessed through a bathroom. You'll be so much happier with an architect!

  • sheepla
    11 months ago

    I've never understood all the plans that have the office at the front door. I work full time from home and the interruptions with deliveries and family members thinking it is okay to pop in and say hello seems incessant. I like my office tucked away in an undisturbed corner somewhere.

  • Jennifer K
    11 months ago

    @sheepla, if you're running a home business with clients that visit, having a home office by the front door is important. Otherwise, I agree.


    @Lore Bennett my sister is a teacher too and she always worked at the dining room table-- specifically so that she would be both "part and apart" of things. Now she has a desk in the kitchen which she loves.

  • bpath
    11 months ago

    My favorite place to work is at the kitchen table. I, too like to have people around, but not all the time. Or kitchen is not open concept, is just kitchen and table. But, I have some things that I want to be able to close away. I tried to set up an unused family room that is off the kitchen and laundry, but there is no way to close it off when needed. Our neighbors remodeled their kitchen, making a great room with casual diningand turned the breakfast nook into small office that has a door. To the kitchen as well as a door to the front hall. I think I'd like that.

  • Bruce in Northern Virginia
    11 months ago

    A lot of architects seem to envision a home office as just a place where you have a desk and pay a few bills or surf on the computer. They don't really expect it to be a working office where you might need to lay out & organize large work plans, have zoom sessions, confer with clients. etc.

    You need to make sure the architect knows what you do in your office, and what capabilites you need. It sounds like you might need a large bed in the middle where you can lay out your work :).

    Bruce

  • Lore Bennett
    Original Author
    11 months ago

    Okay so this might seem like a silly question but if you start a plan from scratch what kind of stuff would you need for architect To make this vision come true? Just a list of things you want? A front of a house you like? I guess we thought a base plan would give us an idea of what the front of the house would look like. I have ran across plans where I like the inside, but the outside was ugly. I’m also really wanting a large front porch and many didn’t have a porch at all.

  • Lore Bennett
    Original Author
    11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    This was the plan we modified and thought about using before the one posted above. What do you think about this one?


  • anj_p
    11 months ago

    You should bring a list of your needs, wants, and would be nice to haves. Your BUDGET. Your lot (if you don't have one, your architect can help you with that). Elevations/exteriors of houses you like are also good, but don't expect to bring an elevation to your meeting and have it be exactly the same as the final house you end up with after design (ours looked nothing like the elevations we brought, but it had the elements we liked, which was most important - and TBH, I thought it was a pretty spectacular looking house in the end, and one I would've never found online). It's also good to look through stock plans and find what you like and don't like about the layouts. This will give you a better understanding of what you want in a house. And definitely consider why you want what you want. You're talking about office space, but it really doesn't sound like office space is what you need or want; you want to be with people while you work. Your architect may have ideas on how to make that happen. You said you like to work in your bedroom because your DH is in there - do you hang out in your bedroom? If so, maybe you want a lounge space in there that can double as a work space? Do you have kids? If not, are you planning on it? If so - these sorts of things may change after kids (for example, maybe a dedicated home office space AWAY will be nice if kids are always underfoot). This is what I was kind of trying to show about my description of our pocket offices - they were created to solve a very specific need that WE had, but good luck finding that in a stock plan.

    Bottom line - don't try to fit your lifestyle into a stock plan. An architect can help you get the house that will work 100% for you. That's the best part about the whole process.

  • er612
    11 months ago

    No point in adding an office that you won't use. Why not incorporate the office into the space where you prefer to work? Rather than matching nightstands, consider a desk on one side. There are endless examples online...



  • ILoveRed
    11 months ago

    planning an office location is very individual and it also depends on how much privacy you need. How much distraction can you handle? How much might all of this change in the future as you have career changes. Are you going to need more privacy if you move up in education? Plan for now but also think about the future.


    my dh is working toward trying to semi retire and his home office is off our foyer. He spends a lot of time on the phone. this office works for him just fine but we don’t have a bunch of loud kids running around. Been there done that.


    my adult dd was here visiting and trying to decide where she wanted to have her architect put her home office for her upcoming build. She went in her dads office, shut the door, and had me turn up the tv and had her kids make a bunch of noise. She instantly knew an office like this wouldn’t work for her because she needs privacy and to be able to concentrate.


    so her office will be isolated and private. I guess what I’m saying is this is going to be something that is going to have to meet your needs..we may not be much help. But if you are going to spend the money to have a dedicated office try to get it right.

  • cpartist
    11 months ago

    First both plans you have posted are pretty bad. Both will have dark public rooms and the kitchens will get absolutely NO natural light.

    Putting bathrooms on outside corners is just plain bad as you'll see why in my comment below. The same with closets

    Having laundry on an interior wall means longer venting which means more chances of lint collecting which means more chances of fire.

    Neither has a decent mudroom which if you have children or intend to have children, might be an issue.

    Did you notice in your original choice the master shower was larger than the foyer?

    The best houses are those where rooms are only 1 - 2 rooms deep and where all public rooms and bedrooms have windows on at least two walls. The best houses are usually designed as an L, T, H, I, or U shaped to allow for as much natural light as possible.

    Additionally the best houses are oriented so the main rooms face south if at all possible to allow for the best passive solar heating and cooling. Lastly the best houses are not plopped down from a prepackaged plan but take into consideration the lot and the needs and wants of those who will live there.

    anj_p gave you some excellent advice on what to do. Start an idea book with photos of exteriors you like, interiors you like, etc. Make notes such as love the ceiling detail, or absolutely want french doors, love those oak floors, or whatever it is that floats your boat.

    Put together a budget for your build and get a plot of your property. Take photos of your property as it is now. Any special features you want to emphasize? How about anything you want to hide?

    Put together a list of what is most important to you, and how you want your rooms arranged (Do a search here for bubble diagrams to see how to do room arrangements) and your absolute must haves, wouldn't it be nice to haves, and hey in my dreams I'd like that.

    Just as a quick example. When I was imagining my house on my small 9100 square foot lot, I decided I loved the feel of house in Mexico with the way they created their own private courtyard and how the house surrounded the courtyard. Now I knew that wasn't feasible here in SW FL, especially with the rain, but realized for my purposes a U shaped house would be the next best thing. Our U "encloses us" so we do not feel quite like we're on top of our neighbors and because it's a U shape, there are still windows on at least 2 and sometimes 3 walls in every public room and bedroom. The house is light and bright all day long which was important to me. Lots of storage was also important to me as I was tired of seeing stuff strewn around.

    Additionally I've always been in love with craftsman style architecture so getting the feel of a craftsman home indoors and out was very important to me. The bookcase room dividers, the fireplace with bookcases and the molding that circled the room just above the doors and windows were all important details for me as was building a home that would work for two people who are in their retired years.

    Take the time to really think about what you want, need and what will give you joy when you pull up to your house and what will give you joy everyday you live in the house.




  • SeattleMCM
    11 months ago

    this all completely depends on what's important to you. is it the need to have more quiet? more privacy? more storage? better light? being warmer?

    we have two offices in our house. before covid, I was WFH full time so I got to have the bigger room with better lighting. but I wound up asking my husband to swap with me. two reasons: 1: the smaller one had a much prettier view out the window, and 2: I thought he needed the bigger space since his office doubles as his man cave.

  • jimandanne_mi
    11 months ago

    What is your husband doing while you are doing work in the bedroom, watching TV, doing work for his job, or ???

    When I was teaching (and had a ranch floor plan), I always ended up grading papers and doing lesson plans at the kitchen table, and the kids were downstairs watching TV. I needed quiet so I could concentrate. The kitchen table was a better height and the chairs were more comfortable than those in the dining room.

    When I designed our new house, I put the dining room where you have the office in your design, figuring that if either myself or DH needed an office on the main floor as we got older (we both are involved in a lot of projects and have papers, books, etc. all over our 2nd floor extra BR/office and lower level guest BR/office), we'd take out the DR furniture and put a desk against the wall and a smaller round or square table with 4 comfortable chairs around it to spread out on and have a place for others to join us. It has double pocket doors open to the foyer and also to the living room.

    Since your rooms are all on the same level, would your DH and kids stop in to chat with you, if you made it comfortable for them to do so and opened up the office to the great room?

    Anne

  • Lore Bennett
    Original Author
    11 months ago

    Anne. My husband is normally watching tv which doesn’t bother me. I think I work on school stuff probably way too much so I like to be able to spend some time with my husband even if he is watching tv and I’m working on school stuff. It is not a problem with us and it makes it so we can be near each other. We had thought about opening up the office to the living room with barn doors or something but that would take that whole wall away for furniture items I was thinking of. I have been trying to somewhat design a plan after the comments about so that an architect can just give pointers and draw it up on blueprints. I know what I want but I can not seem to get it laid out. I think what is throwing me off the most is if I take away the office at the front of the house it will change the front of the house and I’m not sure I like the idea of someone just walking right into our living room.

  • Jennifer K
    11 months ago

    @Lore Bennett, Your architect will do the layout. He has the training. You just need to say things like "it's important to me that I'm near my husband while I'm doing my marking". Or I really hate schlepping my laundry across the house. Or I need storage for my 800 pairs of shoes... That sort of thing.

  • Emily L
    11 months ago

    I can't work at a desk either. If you like a bed workspace, you might like a deep couch in a secondary flex space.

  • anj_p
    11 months ago

    let the architect do your layout. they have the training and experience. I made the same mistake before we had our house designed (trying to lay out our house) and I'm a structural engineer, so I have some idea of how structures go together. what w ended up with was so much better than anything i could have done.

  • suezbell
    11 months ago

    Is your bedroom a sunny room and/or does it have a particularly peaceful attractive view? Alternately, is it convenient to something else such as bath and/or kitchen or is it away from something else away from tv noise? Figure out what you like most about your bedroom and that kind of place is where you want to put the home office where you will be spending your day. With remote learning becoming more often the norm, you might want to keep that in mind as well..

  • Mrs Pete
    11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    Oh, yippee! The you-should-get-an-architect discussion again.

    I suggest you try to really pin down all the reasons why you prefer your bedroom to your current office. It may be a “feeling” rather than a “logical” reason.

    I was going to bring up this very point. Do you gravitate to the bedroom because it's the bedroom ... or because it is a more comfortable spot, or because the lighting is better, or because you have convenient electrical outlets, or some other reason?

    Always dig deep and analyze why-why-why you like a certain thing.

    I've never understood all the plans that have the office at the front door. I work full time from home and the interruptions with deliveries and family members thinking it is okay to pop in and say hello seems incessant. I like my office tucked away in an undisturbed corner somewhere.

    I think offices end up in the front for two reasons:

    - We tend to want our most-used public spaces towards the back of the house. Those spaces are more private, and those spaces often have back-yard access, which is attractive to most of us. So with our kitchens, etc. to the back, the office gets pushed to the front.

    - Front doors aren't used that often. Deliveries and guests don't arrive often, so the front door is probably more quiet than the back of the house.

    A lot of architects seem to envision a home office as just a place where you have a desk and pay a few bills or surf on the computer.

    A pocket office IS ideal for many people, especially as computers reduce the need for file cabinets, bookshelves, and more. I mean, fewer and fewer people even have printers these days. I've been teaching from home from a 5' desk, and it's plenty for me.

    But it's important that you list all the tasks that YOU need your office to do /all the items you need to store in it.


  • cpartist
    11 months ago

    I was thinking of. I have been trying to somewhat design a plan after the comments about so that an architect can just give pointers and draw it up on blueprints

    If you go to a five star restaurant, do you bring the chef the ingredients and your recipe to make the food? Obviously not. You go and enjoy the meal. It's the same with hiring an architect. He/she has the experience and education to wind up giving you something you didn't even know you needed or wanted. Let the professional do their job.

  • suezbell
    11 months ago

    Not a huge fan of either plan. The more angles there are in the exterior wall the more you will need roof peaks and valleys and if you're not careful, you could end up with a McMansion ... which is find if that is your intention.

    Consider pausing and looking at some more plans. In most big box store, including building supply stores and many grocery stores, you can find magazine sections with publications focusing on floor plans of different sizes or styles.

    Some things you should do before deciding what room goes where is pay attention to what side of your property is north, east, south and west -- what side faces the road, what view is there that you like/dislike more. Does the tract of land have a slope that would make creating a split level or basement practical. Where will you be putting your driveway/parking -- what room would have that view. In the northern hemisphere, the rooms on the north side will likely never get sunlight shining INTO the room so that is usually a good side for a garage rather than create a "dark" room. You may find having a living room without much if any sunlight ever entering it to have a cave vibe .



  • suezbell
    11 months ago

    If this is to be a forever home, you might want to consider how you will use it as an empty nester -- being able to not need to fully heat or cool a large home built for a half dozen people or more, especially multiple levels, when only two people are living there full time can be a cost saver. Creating spaces that can be used different ways can help with that. For instance, a bonus room could be a formal dining room or study or nursery or a spare bedroom -- not just designed so it could only be one of those things.

    Since you may want a covered/screened porch or sun room, consider putting it in between your garage and your house so it could also act as a mud room while helping keep garage related sounds and smells out of your home.

    Some other worthwhile things to keep in mind include:

    Having window in each bath and powder room;

    Having an exterior door exiting from your kitchen directly to the outside -- an exit from the kitchen that doesn't require you walking through any other living space in the house with a bag of trash -- a path through a mudroom/laundryroom or screened porch could work, though;

    Access to a covered porch from either living or dining so it can be part of indoor/outdoor living/entertaining.

  • jimandanne_mi
    11 months ago

    Based on your explanation of how and why you want to do your work in the bedroom, it seems to me the best office location would be to have one just before you enter the BR. Make it large enough for a desk, a file cabinet, a small closet and room for an extra chair and maybe a small table. That way you'd have a handy place to put your laptop and other materials so they don't stay in the BR, and if there are times when you need more space to spread out, it would be there.

    Also, if teaching is a long-term career, or you end up with a different career with more paper work or where it would be more convenient to sit at a desk during the day, or someone else in the house needs an office, you/they could easily access a place to work. Putting it through the BR, as it is in your 2nd plan, would limit its usefulness. I want my BR to be a peaceful place with no desk or reminder of the work that needs to be done as I'm winding down and getting ready to go to sleep.

    Anne