New Year, New Office

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A Laguna Beach designer gives tips for making home offices feel more like home.

By Somer Flaherty
MFWrate OfficeA decade ago, Michael Fullen of Laguna Beach’s Michael Fullen Design Group Inc. chose to pursue his passion when he traded a career managing an electronics company’s international sales for his own interior design business. He has since completed a variety of projects from a Las Vegas penthouse to a Chicago townhouse to a Mediterranean Laguna abode. With a designer so firmly rooted in business, we couldn’t help but ask for his thoughts on creating the perfect home office space.

Laguna Beach Magazine: How do suggest making a home office more personal?

Michael Fullen: Consider things that bring it closer to home—a comfortable reading chair and ottoman, artwork and a few luxury items for your desktop. It should feel special and personal.

LBM: What is the biggest challenge in designing a home office?

MF: Creating a highly functional workspace in the confines of the room allotted. First think about how the space will be used. Plan to hide the unsightly parts of a working office; add shelving or cabinetry where possible. Add enough electrical outlets for today’s equipment. Take advantage of the benefits in wireless technology. Add sufficient lighting for atmosphere and task. We all want a home office that doesn’t look corporate and addresses all our needs, but we are often trying to squeeze it into the smallest space. It takes a well-thought-out plan to make it functional and beautiful at the same time.

LBM: With the typical smaller lots in Laguna, people may have to make a home office a multi-use room. How do you suggest doing this?

MF: If you are creating a home office within a guest room or an open alcove off the family room, consider making it well organized with custom cabinetry and the ability to conceal the operational aspects when not in use. Typical office items like printers, scanners and files can be hidden in a nearby closet or cabinet. Take advantage of wireless options when you have the choice.

LBM: When two people are using the same home office, there can be unique challenges to compromising on design. What are your suggestions for overcoming this issue?

MF: We often are confronted with different design aesthetics when there is more than one person involved. We find a common thread in the desires of each and create a space or home that seamlessly incorporates the needs and styles of everyone. Find unity in color or collectively choose a few items you both can enjoy, like art and accessories. Remember, it may be a workspace, but it’s still your home.

LBM: What is the best item to splurge on for this type of space?

MF: Wall covering. It adds depth, warmth and an inviting feel—not what you find in the fluorescent-lit spaces many work in. There are a variety of wallpapers and natural wall coverings available, such as grasscloth, hemp and even fabric. Printed wallpaper is also back in exciting updated patterns and colors.

LBM: For many, choosing a color palette is one of the most difficult parts of the interior design process. Any tips?

MF: Think about what you’re comfortable in. Start with your closet, as what you wear is most likely your favorite color scheme, and why not make it part of where you spend a lot of time?

LBM: What other unique design challenges does a home office have?

MF: When designing a home office, it is important to keep in mind what you need it for. If the space will be a satellite for your business office, it won’t require the same amount of files and storage as it would if it’s the primary location of your business.

Maximize Style and Efficiency

Take a peek at the latest design options for your home office space.

By Somer Flaherty 

Whether you’re carving out a niche of workspace in a spare bedroom’s closet, or you have an entire room dedicated to your home office needs, organize your space and maximize its use with the right furniture and lighting picks. LBM



Macto-W_isolated moya
Kreiss Gatsby storage, available at Kreiss in Newport Beach (949-729-9194;
Kreiss Gatsby storage, available at Kreiss in Newport Beach (949-729-9194;
Councill table with drawers, available at Baker Knapp & Tubbs (Laguna Design Center, Laguna Niguel; 949-643-2073;
Councill table with drawers, available at Baker Knapp & Tubbs (Laguna Design Center, Laguna Niguel; 949-643-2073;
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