Here’s a Use for This Somewhat Controversial Home Feature That’s Actually Stylish

published Jul 7, 2022
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There are plenty of clever ways to successfully integrate a desk area into your living room, bedroom, or basement without majorly disrupting the flow and aesthetics. But sometimes, you just want to keep your work station 100 percent out of sight when it isn’t in use. Spotting a laptop or monitor out of the corner of your eye — or across a room — can make it difficult to truly unplug after hours, and if you’re bothered by desk clutter, well, don’t even get me started. That’s why I was so inspired by this work station I saw while scrolling on Instagram one day; it might be the best use of barn doors that I’ve seen.

Several years back, Whitney Riter Gelinas, principal designer at Wit Interiors in the San Francisco Bay Area, created a sleek closet office for one of her clients. Given that many employees continue to work remotely for at least one or two days per week, I couldn’t help but revisit this project of hers, which also features an unexpected element (more on that in a moment!). Why did Gelinas opt to create a closet office, or “cloffice,” in the first place? “My clients were expecting a baby and originally wanted me to create a baby room with a desk in it,” she says. “Having just had a baby myself, I knew they needed a separate space to work.”

Luckily, when surveying her clients’ home, Gelinas spotted “a random storage closet” in in the dining room, which wasn’t being used. “I suggested carving out that space for a built-in desk and then putting a barn door across it,” she shares. “This way when they weren’t working, they could close up the space.”

Over the years, the closet office has evolved to meet Gelinas’s clients’ needs. “With a new baby on the way, the last thing [the husband] wanted was to be spending late nights in the office, so this allowed him to spend more time at home with the family,” she says of the space’s original purpose. “The wife actually embarked on a second career in interior design a few years after this project and used the nook for her school projects.”

The surprise element I referenced earlier? A mirror attached to the closet doors, which adds an artful touch to the space, and, of course, makes the dining space appear larger. “The dining room was already a little on the claustrophobic side,” Gelinas says. “Previous owners had tried to open it up to the living room with some cut-outs, but the dining table pretty much took up the whole space. By putting in a mirror, we were able to make the room feel bigger and brighter.”