How Do You Like Your Home Office?

Houses | October 15, 2019


The first blog back after a long weekend; most of you expect I’m going to start with some long-winded diatribe about some event, social outing, or experience I had with my family, right?

Well, you know me too well…

Did you ever sit down and calculate what these apple farms and pumpkin patches make every September and October?

Having attended both of these fantastic social experiments in the past month, I can say that they’re both absolute cash cows, and good on the farm owners!  They work damn hard all year to prepare for such a short harvest of dollar bills and credit cards, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for anybody who makes money one potato at a time.

Downey’s in Brampton was buzzing on Monday, and I figure with admission, food, pumpkins, and God knows what else, the average take has to be at least $50 per person.  How many people went through there yesterday?  Five thousand?  Ten thousand?  I think the latter is a decent guess, and that’s a cool half-million on Thanksgiving Monday.  Add in Saturday and Sunday, and this farm is taking in what a third-line winger in the NHL makes in a year.

As I told my mother a couple of weeks ago, “There’s something so special about driving an hour north of Toronto to spend $50 on ten-dollars-worth of apples.”

Kidding!  Kidding!

I’m not a curmudgeon.  Yet…

It’s the experience, you see!

Hearing the “snap” of a fresh apple being plucked right off the very limb that grew it; I mean, that’s an experience!

Who doesn’t love a good wagon ride?

And don’t even get me started on the corn maze.  I mean, I won’t shut up.  Honestly.  My friend and I lost the wives on purpose, just to add to the experience, although both of our kids were too busy eating popcorn to notice anything was amiss.

But the best part?

Leaving the farm at 12:30pm and seeing cars lining the road for about 1.5 KM in both directions.  I’m not an early riser, but wow am I ever glad my wife had us on the road by 9:00am!

We’re almost through the apples from last month, and now we have to keep these pumpkins on the front porch and hope the raccoons don’t eat them.

And to think: a decade ago, I didn’t know any of this was on the horizon…

I mentioned a few weeks back that my wife and I are in a house now, and while I still owe you all an unnecessarily-long, likely-three-part blog about the experience (I need 6 hours to write this and I haven’t had any time this fall), I will say that I was asked by a blog-reader-turned-client what my favourite part of my house is.  He then qualified his own question with, “What’s the best part of the house – that you didn’t think you’d really value as much?”

Great question.  And in the context of his housing search (he is admittedly the person who’s “nice to haves” are framed as “must haves”), I can say that you truly don’t need everything you thought you did, and yet some features of a home are those which you never thought you’d use as much as you do.

For me, it’s my office.

Sad, maybe.  The fact that I had to link work to a particular feature of my home is more of an occupational hazard and quiet coincidence than it is a tragedy.

But this is my safe space, to put it in 2019 terms.

This is where I write most of my blogs, where I drink my rye and diet gingerale on Saturday nights while bidding on hockey cards, and where I see neighbours, walking their dogs, staring at me through the window as though I wasn’t there.  Yes, I can see you.  We are literally making eye contact right now.  My office has a light on, and you’re in the dark, so I’m lit up like a goddam Jack-o-lantern, I get it.  But I still see you.

Anyways…

Like many prospective home owners, I always had a vision of what I wanted in a house, and like many prospective home owners, I went in a very, very different direction.  The style of our home is quite modern, and I always wanted something more traditional.  Even “old world” in some respects.

When it comes to my home office, as I have written on this blog before, I always pictured some wood-panelled room.  And as I look around the walls of my office right now, and feel silly for not knowing what this material is (I blame my real estate agent…), there’s one material I know this is not, and that’s wood.

So today, just for fun, I thought I’d show you a slew of home offices, in various styles, and we can fawn, critique, criticize, and hit the favourite button as well.

I went through MLS listings for a few hundred midtown homes, and found the following photos.

I’ve divided these into four categories:

Old World – beyond traditional, these are classic.

Traditional – pulling from the original, old-world styles of the early 1900’s, these incorporate slightly more modern elements, and are newer.

Transitional – somewhere between traditional and modern.

Modern – “sleek” and somewhat minimalist, and I might use the term “smart design” even though it’s over-used.

I’m going to number them so you can point to your favourites, and most-hated.

Old World Style Offices

Old World #1:

This is so classic, right down to the globe!

I was showing a colleague of mine one of the photos below last week, and he said, “The only thing that’s missing is the globe.”

Well, there you have it!

This office happens to have a piano in it, rather than a desk, but make no mistake – this is the home office at the front of the house, like all the others in this list.

Old World #2:

This is classic.  Absolutely classic!

Right down to the wood-burning fireplace!

Would you want your back to the window?  Should that desk be turned?

Check out the door on the left?  Is that awesome or what?  And there’s a key!  An old-world skeleton key.  Beautiful.

Old World #3:

I do not like this one at all.

It’s way too dark, although maybe that’s the lighting.

The dog on the couch is a cute touch.

Old World #4:

This is the layout where the office is at the side of the house, rather than the front.  It gives you more wall space, but now you’re looking into the office of the guy next door.

That desk is ugly as hell.

And while I think the chair is ugly too, it fits perfectly in this setup.

Note the white drywall ceiling; it’s the only one of the “Old World” list that has this feature.

Old World #5:

I love the coffered ceiling!

I dont’ like the gas fireplace, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?  They can’t all have wood-burning!

That desk is really, really high, isn’t it?

Old World #6:

They don’t look as good empty, do they?

Old World #7:

Also empty, also tough to visualize, but this one is way too dark for my liking.

Traditional Style Offices

Traditional #1:

Now we see a more traditional style, which feels less like you’re in a movie from the 1800’s.

This is an interesting combination of lighter herringbone floor, and darker wood-pannels.

The gas fireplace is very common in the newer, more traditional offices.

That desk chair looks really uncomfortable.

Traditional #2:

I like this one.  It’s way warmer than the first office, and I like the combination of the white drywall ceiling and pot lights, which are a bit more modern, with the old-school wood.

The desk is an antique, which really ties the room together.  Great job.

Traditional #3:

Another office being used as a “study,” or whatever we want to call it.

I’d much rather have seen a photo from the doorway looking in, to capture the window on the left, which isn’t shown.

The room would also look so much better with a desk, and I’d have staged it as such if this were my listing.

You can see from the banisters outside the room that this isn’t an original, vintage home where you’d find one of the “Old World” offices above, but rather this feels like a house built in the past 10-15 years.

Traditional #4:

I don’t like this at all, and neither do you.

Do you know how I know?

Because nobody would like that red floor with the brown wood.

Now here’s the same office, but a different listing, and slightly different photo:

Yeah, still awful with that red flooring.

Traditional #5:

Not the best photo here, since we’re only seeing about half the room.

The drapes are going to make or break this photo, and as you’ll see in some of the photos below, drapes can, in fact, make or break the space!

This feels like Moore Park to me.

Transitional Style Offices

Transitional #1:

Now we get into more modern offices, as you can see here with the glass doors to the right, and the sleeker windows to the left.

This office still incorporates wood, but you can tell this isn’t from the 1920’s, and it’s not trying to be.  It’s almost got a bit of a zebra pattern to it, which I don’t love, but I suppose it’s within that transitional style.

Note the flooring – that’s wood, but looks like tile.  It’s just a really bad photographer.

The desk and chair are modern too.

Transitional #2:

This is sleek!

Wainscoting, 8-10 inch baseboards, and a coffered ceiling.

Very clean, very cool!

Transitional #3:

Again we see some really modern ceiling detail, and I love the colour of the shelves.  It makes some of the “Old World” woods look really, really bad by comparison!

This is set up for staging, obviously.  Why waste this awesome space on such a small desk?

Transitional #4:

You might recognize this from an “MLS Musings” post because you can see the camera in the glass.  Oh well!

This is a really cool office, and I love the combination of white panelling on the left wall, and on the ceiling, with the brown shelves.

A third colour – that light floor, could really kill the room, but it works.  I just think the fourth colour in that desk is a bit much.

Note the globe, the hourglass, and the rotary-dial phone!

Transitional #5:

This almost feels like it pulls elements of the three photos above.

I don’t like the flooring at all, and I think the walls are about one shade too dark, but I love the rounded window overlooking the front yard!

Modern Style Offices

Modern #1:

This has no furniture, and that’s really too bad.

I’d have loved to see what this looks like furnished!

I love the colours in here.  Light flooring, classic white baseboards, and those dark brown columns that wrap to the ceiling and back down.

The paint has a tinge of green, which I don’t love.  More of a grey would look great.

Do you know what else looks great?

This room, furnished!

Yes, this is from another listing, and I only wish they’d shot the whole room!

That desk is ridiculously-small, and I actually think the first photo shows the space better.

Modern #2:

Again, I would have loved to see this room from the outside, looking in.

But I love the double doors, and the colour scheme in here is fantastic.  The black windows are all the rage these days!  And that’s the grey I like.  Not too dark, but not light and “weak” either.

I love that light fixture too.  It’s a modern spin on a classic.

Modern #3:

This is gorgeous, and I don’t really like white.

It just “works,” doesn’t it?  Those shelves – with the medium-brown wood background?  I love it!

Here’s the same room, different staging:

I don’t like it nearly as much.  I see what they were trying to do, but this photo doesn’t do the room justice.  It looks smaller, and darker.

So what do you think?

Which style do you like the most?  Keeping in mind, that my terminology isn’t fully accurate, since the modern photos are what some designers would call “transitional,” but I digress.”

And which actual photo do you like the most?  Which office do you like the most?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And that’s not just because there’s a photo of my office in here somewhere… 🙂

Back To Top

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

15 Comments

  1. Pingback: How Do You Like Your Home Office? | Real Estate News Group
  2. Appraiser

    at 8:57 am

    The older I get the more I lean toward a modern design as most appealing.

    I know which one is yours, because I looked it up on MLS.

    P.S. Downeys is located in Caledon, just north of Brampton.

  3. Kyle

    at 9:04 am

    David, i think your traditional bias is showing. Most people would consider your Modern examples to be Transitional and your Transitional examples to be Traditional.

    This is what modern actually looks like:

    https://i.pinimg.com/564x/fd/92/42/fd9242030b4de2848c775afb2190f619.jpg
    https://i.pinimg.com/564x/c7/2f/a2/c72fa243e7d6d1bb91cf0f9fb66a5a70.jpg
    https://i.pinimg.com/564x/68/f2/fc/68f2fc9058b5b42fa0e24976192205f2.jpg

    I think with more and more people spending some portion of their working week, working from home, a home office is becoming more or a necessity than a nice to have. While it’s not realistic for many to have an entire room devoted to home office use, i think it makes a lot of sense to have a multi-functioning spaces that enables comfortable remote working. Doubly true if you have a cottage that you can work from to avoid the Friday evening traffic.

    1. Batalha

      at 4:45 pm

      “This is what modern actually looks like.”

      Exactly what I was thinking!

  4. Derek

    at 11:16 am

    This made me laugh. We have been burning money annually at Springridge Farms and usually Chudley’s too. It kills me to count the cars in the parking lot at Springridge and do the math.

  5. Marina Petkova

    at 11:58 am

    Surprisingly I liked the Modern ones the most. I thought i’d be a Transitionalist, but here we are. I think it’s because they are the brightest ones. The ow/traditional are too cave-like and the transitional turned out to remind me of a banker’s office. Hard pass.

    Fun note – Whittamore Berry farms on the east side is up for sale on Realtor.ca for $15 million. They also do summer business on the berry side, but still – gives you an idea of the scale of the business.

  6. Francesca

    at 12:00 pm

    I am a fan of the transitional and modern style offices and homes for that matter too. I find the Old World and Traditional offices to be too old fashioned looking and too masculine. I find having that much wood paneling to make a room looks smaller too. I wonder though how many people actually use their offices or if people prefer to turn an unused bedroom into an office like we did . We only put a bookshelf and a desk in our office and I can count on one hand how little we actually use. All of us seem to prefer to use the kitchen table to do homework or work so in a future house/condo I don’t think the office space will be necessary for how we use it.

  7. Not Harold

    at 3:03 pm

    Definitely agree on the fireplaces – wood burning or nothing.

    Lots of Lawrence Park houses represented here, which fits.

    Coffered ceilings and paneling, whether painted or stained wood, are nice touches. Old World 2 is gorgeous, OW 5 would be amazing with a real fireplace. Transitional 2, 3, and 5 are also nice.

    Ideally you have enough room for 2 chairs by the fire and then 2 in front of the desk, or else can move them between fireside and desk facing.

    Really want two offices if both spouses are professionals/running businesses. Then have some space in/near the kitchen for household stuff and homework. Helps keep the spheres separate and allows for focus on reading/privacy & quiet for meetings, plus better organization than if everyone is sharing one area.

    Does really depend on what people do.

  8. Joel

    at 4:19 pm

    Really like the transitional offices. Nice mix of sleek and the comfort of wood.

    1. David Fleming

      at 12:16 pm

      @ Moonbeam!

      This is cheating, because you are my mother!

      Not the best photo though, is it? Should I snap one and share tonight?

  9. Appraiser

    at 9:31 am

    Kudos David on this piece. It proves to me that there’s lots of ‘nice’.

    It also illustrates how taste and preference can be deeply personal.

    Or so we think.

    Arguably it may be nothing more than the product of an eloquent artifice foisted upon us by those dastardly interior designers and clever home stagers.

  10. Geoff

    at 2:17 pm

    I feel like ‘home offices’ are kind of a throwback to when you had to have a printer and a phone line (and later, an ethernet port). My ‘home office’ is a standup adjustable desk with a monitor and docking station on it; and sometimes my home office is my backyard in the summer hooked up to the wifi – repeater. Just my feelings though, and we have a small house and would never turn a 3 bedroom into a 2 bedroom + office. Maybe if we had 5 bedroom house I’d feel differently.

Back To Comments