With so many of us working from home these days, we wanted to reach out to some of our BrightBuilt Homeowners who have home offices, and see if they could share some snippets on their WFH experiences. Cristos and Emma completed their Mackworth in South Portland a few years ago, not long before welcoming the arrival of their adorable toddler. As he has been working from home during our current times, Cristos had some great insights on what it's been like for him.
1. What is unique about working from home in your BrightBuilt Home, as compared to other offices (home or otherwise)?
The most notable feature that comes to mind is the super-tight envelope combined with the Logic windows. I have windows on two walls which let in a good deal of natural light, even late in the day. However, although there’s more window than wall, my office is virtually immune to outdoor noise when they’re fully closed. It doesn’t matter if there’s a garbage truck directly in front of the house, if the street is full of children happily playing, or if my wife is mowing the lawn immediately outside. Thanks to the super-tight envelope and Logic windows, I can trust that no outdoor noise will interrupt me if I need a quiet space to work or make a video call.
2. What is your favorite part of your office space?
I spend practically all my time at my desk, which is set up in a corner that receives natural light on the desk throughout the day, but also minimizes sun glare on my monitors. It’s also a big enough space that I can fit both a sit-stand desk and a walking treadmill. This lets me rotate through multiple positions throughout the day (sitting, standing, and walking) which is far better than being in a chair 100% of the time.
3. You have large, glass french doors into your office, which was a useful way to add a beautiful feature and visual connection to the rest of your house but also the ability to fully isolate yourself - Do you have any thoughts on this feature?
We have a 1 year-old toddler who spends a lot of time playing in the living room immediately behind my office. While I love having such an adorable distraction nearby, it can make it hard to stay on-task. Thankfully, I can close the french doors to further separate the office when I need to focus, and our toddler can still look through the glass to see that I’m nearby.
Also, the french doors are useful in a non-work capacity. At Thanksgiving, we host a fairly large family gathering with five kids running around. We can temporarily convert the office into a playspace/theater room for them, while we turn the living room into an extended part of the dining area. It’s really great to easily repurpose our first floor into separate spaces for the adults and the kids to hang out, just by closing the french doors. We wanted our home to be able to accommodate large Thanksgiving dinners, and thanks to the design from BrightBuilt, doing so has been a joy.
4. What are the key components of your BrightBuilt home office that make it a successful work environment?
First, I feel very lucky to have a workspace with so much natural light and airflow. If we hadn’t planned it like this from the start, I might well have spent the pandemic at a desk under a workshop light in the basement. Yet, although the windows are very large, I’m able to get good noise isolation when needed.
Second, even though the office takes up a good portion of the space downstairs, we’ve been able to put its size to good use. It has enough room for my desk, reading area, and server bench -- and it becomes a playroom/theater room for all the kids when we host Thanksgiving dinner.
5. Are there things you know now (about your working style, spatial needs) that you would do differently when designing your office space? Do you have any advice for others?
I was surprised at how hot the office would get with solar gain in the afternoon, even during a cool Maine spring (or “mud season,” as we call it). I was lucky enough to get fabulous custom curtains made by my mother-in-law, but you should definitely consider how you’ll do window treatments from the start. The office stays comfortably warm in the winter, even with the french doors closed, but without curtains it was prone to getting hot in the summertime.
We were a bit disappointed when engineering constraints required us to make the french doors narrower than the original design called for, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise -- they’re actually the maximum practical width to put in a toddler gate. That was a design element we had not thought about when originally planning the space with BrightBuilt. But I am quite glad that we were able to put in a stock toddler gate now that we have a 1 year-old running around!
I also didn’t know that desk treadmills were a thing when we first designed the office space, and they do have quite a large spatial footprint. It initially seemed like the office might be more space than I needed, but I think that it actually turned out to be just right.