Create your own corner (of the kitchen) office using furniture that blends into the room (here, the pieces match the clean, contemporary lines of stainless-steel appliances). And take cues from the countertops: Pasta- and cookie-storage jars and spice and cutlery receptacles adapt perfectly to office work.
What You'll Need
A message center: A steel bulletin board is a sleek stand-in for traditional cork. Affix papers and notes with magnetic clips, and store paper clips, file tabs, and the like in magnetic spice containers.
Lighting: A lean brushed-steel lamp pivots in two directions (up and down, side to side) and projects bright halogen light exactly where you want it.
Furniture: A stainless-steel work table (here paired with a brushed-aluminum chair) provides ample surface area for writing, as well as lots of legroom. Casters keep things mobile. Glass food-storage jars prevent rubber bands and other odds and ends from taking over the desktop, while a letter sorter keeps postage, tape, and outgoing mail organized.
File storage: A rolling cart pulls out from under the desk for easy access. Binders and a bin for files or magazines slide into the lower compartment, papers get tucked neatly into a box, and pens and pencils hide away in a plastic flatware divider.
2 of 3James Baigrie
In Your Living Room
When you're integrating an office into this multifunctional room, the first rule is not to let the work space stick out—aesthetically or physically. Keep to the room's color and decoration schemes, and make sure the furniture doesn't impede traffic flow. Make use of what's already there (shelving, cupboards), and introduce elements (lamps, chairs) that can serve other purposes when the work is done.
What You'll Need:
Shelving: File and CD boxes holding records, papers, and computer discs can be stacked (along with reference books) within reach on bookshelves, rather than cluttering the desktop. A shelf that's deep and high enough is a good place to set up the printer and the fax.
Lighting: A decorative table lamp in lieu of a more industrial-looking model helps tie the office in to the rest of the room's decor. It also contributes gracious accent lighting to family evenings and parties.
Furniture: Positioning a desk flush against built-in bookshelves leaves space for people to pass. Think about purchasing an unfinished desk and painting it to blend in with the room's wood trim. A high-back leather armchair provides comfort and support during hours spent logged on to the computer, yet it's attractive enough to be pressed into service at cocktail hour. Under the desk, a child's footstool (painted to match the desk) keeps the computer tower off the floor and within easy reach.
File storage: A file cabinet on wheels can be trundled over to one side of the desk when added legroom is called for, or pulled out from underneath to provide additional surface area—say, for spreading out documents while you're working.
3 of 3James Baigrie
In Your Bedroom
Your bedroom is your sanctuary, so make your work space as inconspicuous as possible. Start by choosing furniture in the Amazing Disappearing Material, clear acrylic, known as Lucite or Plexiglas. (If your room is long and narrow, try setting things up at the foot of the bed, as shown.) Then dress up whatever remains conspicuous in the style of the rest of your boudoir.
What You'll Need
Lighting: A low, slim glass lamp sheds necessary light on your work while doing its best to contribute to the disappearing theme.
Furniture: The clear desk and chair are sturdy, but they add no bulk to the room and become all but invisible from certain angles. (They're also easy to clean; just wipe them down with mild soap and water—never ammonia-based cleaners—and an old T-shirt or a microfiber cloth.) Acrylic nesting tables make great platforms. Use the largest for a fax machine or a printer (as shown); the smallest can work well as a perch for a computer tower.
File storage: Boxes, binders, and other storage elements sit neatly under a nesting table. Since they'll be in full view, choose them as you would decorative accessories, such as throw pillows and lamp shades. Opt for ones that harmonize with the colors and patterns of your decor, or stick with whites and neutrals. Files and papers not needed as frequently can be stashed in under-bed wicker baskets.