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Spare closet turned into hidden home office

June 21, 2012 |  7:07 am

Closeted home office
Small home offices are big right now, according to the National Assn. of Home Builders, and when my colleague Lisa Boone wrote about the trend two months ago we invited readers to share photos of their pocket offices. Among the photos that rolled our way was this design sent by Katie McAuliff, a Chicago designer whose firm, LB Interior Design, converted a client's spare closet into a space-efficient work area.

Closeted home officeThe project was a reminder that anyone with a guest bedroom, kids playroom or TV room could equip the closet as a pocket office without losing the function of the rest of the room. It's an idea we saw done well when profiling the Studio City home of furniture designer Reza Feiz a few years ago (photo below).

For those DIYers among us, we posed some additional questions to McAuliff, who worked on the project with business partner Lindsay McDonell. We asked for specifics about how they put the space together for this edited Q&A:

Could you tell us a bit more about the doors? Are they powder-coated metal or painted wood? And is that a strip of wood delineating the colors?

The doors were made with three Wilsonart laminates and a raised piece of wood trim to separate colors. Laminate is a little tricky for the DIYer (and requires routers, files, etc.). To achieve this look, my advice would be to paint the colors onto existing doors, then add the trim pieces using glue and small nails. [McAuliff credits the doors pictured here to Brian Haughey of BH Woodworking.]

Is the desktop anchored to the wall or merely sitting on top of file cabinets?

The desktop and the floating shelves are all anchored to the wall using hidden wood cleats that fit into the hollow shelves along the back and side walls of the closet. The shelves are actually three pieces glued together to look like a thick plank. [These types of shelves are sold at stores such as IKEA, but you will be limited in sizes and finishes.] Steel brackets should be used to hold heavier shelves.

Might this arrangement work for a household looking to squeeze two uses out of one room -- contain the office in a closet so the rest of the space can be for play, watching TV or reading?

Yes, this definitely would work in the closet of an extra bedroom. We have done that as well. Typically the closet is not deep enough to accommodate closing the doors with the chair inside, so I would suggest using a backless stool that can slide under the desktop. This also allows for the space to be converted back to a closet easily if the closet needs to function as a closet again or if the house is put up for sale.

-- As told to Craig Nakano

Pocket office of Reza Feiz
Furniture designer Reza Feiz, whose home was featured by The Times a few years ago, converted a closet in a spare bedroom of his Studio City house into a work space. He removed the closet doors, painted the inside walls and added a simple Artemide light for some low-cost personality. Credit: Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times


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Design ideas: The L.A. at Home photo archive

LB Design photos by John Hanson