The Black Hole Home Office

Tech Tour

Name: Gregory Han
Location: Silver Lake, CA
Size: 6' x 3' Closet

Around this time last year I was happily enjoying working in a newly renovated home office I had designed and optimized for my workflow, furnished and accessorized with small space living in mind. It was a bright, cheery and ample space in an otherwise small studio apartment.

And then we moved.

I knew when we moved I was in for a drastic change in regards to my work area, since the 1 bedroom apartment we were migrating into was a space I actually photographed and toured for an Apartment Therapy Los Angeles house tour in late 2009. Our friend Alysia had used a portion of the living room as her home office, but I wanted to do something a bit different and use the closet as a work space. The option to close the door (and reminders about work) was partially the reason for this decision, but also because I prefer having distinct spaces for specific tasks, even if it meant downsizing into a much tighter fit (thankfully, there's small window, a detail common to these 1900-1930's units).

The biggest decision made was a stylistic one: going from bright and cheery decorated space to a darker, more sophisticated finish. I wanted just as much utility (though obviously not as much storage would be available) as the previous home office, so this required some planning and help from a contact at The Container Store, alongside hours of researching online about other closet home offices. I had several cinematic inspirations to work with, and when I saw a tech-stylized black wallpaper and purchased a wolf-shaped wall lamp, I knew I had the foundation pieces of my new work space.

Unplggd Tour Survey:

My/our style: Vintage modern with a smidgen of science minded nerd.

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The inspiration for my home office/home theater: Three of my favorite movies heavily influenced what I had envisioned for this tiny space: the Symphony No. 9 In D Minor/Ode To Joy scene in Immortal Beloved (staring up into the infinite stars, floating on top of water), the organized perfection of the residence in Tom Ford's A Single Man, and a little of the mod-ultraviolence aesthetic of A Clockwork Orange. If anyone out there has a Kozik UltraViolence Ludwig Van Beethoven Bust they want to sell me, please contact me!

Favorite element in your space: The Graham & Brown black checker wallpaper. I first saw this geometric textured wallpaper at this year's ICFF show, and it laid the foundation of doing something completely different. The wallpaper's character changes throughout the day, as light hits different corners of the wallpaper's relief; it also feels nicely on the fingers (guests are drawn to touching the Tetris like shapes).

Biggest challenge in designing my space: Installing, painting, organizing...just about anything inside such a small space is a challenge (especially during hotter days). Just getting the IKEA Besta Burs desk from my previous studio home office was a challenge, requiring removing the closet bars and diagonally angling it inside carefully, as not to rip or ruin the black paint or wallpaper.

What friends say about my space: Only a couple of friends have seen the home office in person thus far. I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to designing and decorating spaces, so I've kept it mostly under wraps and only now decided it was "okay" enough to share. But a couple of friends noted it was "masculine" and "glamorous", another mentioning it seemed cozy, while my fellow Unplggd contributor, Sonia, called it "S&M dungeon chic"!

Area where there is room for improvement/future projects: I've got three main goals moving forward: 1) to reupholster my office chair with a fabric which better complements the rest of the office; the Steelcase Leap is comfortable, but the upholstery has seen better days ; 2) repaint the white trim; 3) add a piece of artwork on my right side (it's currently blank and crying for something).

You've got the game music to Tetris stuck in your head now, don't you?

Proudest DIY (do it yourself) project: Installing the wallpaper, which was fairly easy...until the weather changed drastically the next day (from cool to extremely hot) and the wallpaper began peeling. With some careful additional wallpaper adhesive (advice: lay it on thick), it's stayed on since and looks great.

Also, since I needed as much storage as possible since downsizing from a room to a closet, I turned to the Elfa system from the Container Store for some on-the-wall shelving. Working with Elfa expert, Stephanie Pascale, at the Pasadena location (I'm calling her out because she was so helpful, knowledgeable), she walked me through how to plan for the space. Everything is labeled, planned out on paper, so installation was literally a 10 minute process. I originally planned for a second set of shallower shelves on the right, but nixed the idea when I realized I would feel too cluttered, boxed in, so I'm currently content with the shelves tucked away on the left side where the printer and scanner reside.

Biggest indulgence with respect to my space: The Wolf wall mount bust lamp. It was prohibitively expensive when I first saw it at a local favourite design shop. But recently, the store began heavily discounting stock during a closing sale, so I purchased the lamp at a fraction of its original price. It's indeed a "fierce" centerpiece.

Also the mod Italian desk lamp purchased at Bebop Design. I wanted a splash of colour inside the space, and I had been eyeing/dreaming of the lamp since first seeing while on a Store Profile assignment (you can actually see it in the 1st photo of the post). Bebop's owner, Remi, offered me a fair price I couldn't pass up, so it's now happily residing on top of my desk.

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Best advice about organizing or incorporating tech into the home: Pull everything out of the room first, then lay down how and where your wires and cables will be running. Also wall mounting an organizational accessory like the cable box from IKEA helps hide any tech mess, while also keeping it all off the floor. I used some Wiremold cable raceways found at Home Depot to help guide some of the power cables that had to be routed inside the closet from the living room, since currently the closet has no interior outlets.

Wall mount your monitor if space is an issue. By using an affordable Sanus tilting wall mount, I regained a good portion of usable desk space. It also just creates a much more clean looking setup, with the monitor now blending in the background (something I've always wanted, since I've always wanted to blend away the Dell monitor's presence).

I also highly recommend drawing even a rudimentary floor plan before designing a home office. Starting with even a simple plan makes a big difference. I also wrote a small checklist of what I wanted both organizationally and aesthetically before starting on the project. Plan, plan, plan...review...execute!

Dream source for stuff: 1st Dibs dealers; it's become a slight obsession lately, online window shopping for decorative accessories and lighting. But locally, I'm very much in love with the selection of curated wares at Inheritance. I'm also in tech lust with the newest 27" Apple LED backlit display (except for the gloss finish), since additional desktop real estate is always welcome.

Resources

Home Tech Hardware:

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 15" Apple MacBook Pro
  • Dell 2407WFP Flat Panel Monitor
  • Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 Computer Speakers
  • Apple Magic Mouse
  • Microsoft Arc Keyboard
  • Canon iP1800 Printer
  • Epson Perfection V30 Flatbed Scanner
  • 64GB Apple iPad
  • 16GB iPod Touch
  • Nikon D90 DSLR
  • Canon S90
  • Macintosh Classic II (decorative/non-working)
  • Audio-technica Quiet Point headphones

Furniture:

Accessories:

Lighting:

  • Tord Boontje Garland Light
  • Vintage Italian lamp from BeBop Design
  • Wolf wall light from SHOW

Organizing Tools/Accessories:

Photos by Gregory Han