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Elizabeth Stuart: Home offices reflect function, beauty and comfort

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Elizabeth Stuart’s design firm and retail store has been a staple in Mount Pleasant since 1996. Its subtle and sophisticated exterior tucked off of Coleman Boulevard reflects the designer’s unique style: Refined, eclectic and sophisticated with unexpected glimpses of beauty.

Home Office - Sullivan's Island

Mixing mid-century with a natural palette, Stuart designed this large and luxurious office space for a home on Sullivan's Island. Photo/Elizabeth Stuart.

Stuart and her team work with private residential clients and beyond – from multifamily spaces to large commercial projects, her designs are mindful interpretations that are intended to have a profound effect on one’s daily life – whether that be within an expansive living area, an outdoor garden space, a home office or a nook off a dining room to serve as a home office.

Gathering lighting, upholstery, jewelry and other one-of-a-kind pieces from around the world, her designs have appeared in California, Texas, Florida, Charleston and Georgia. Travel, being one of her inspirations, has enabled her to work with clients in London, Shanghai, Guadalajara and Madrid. She and her designs have appeared in numerous publications, including Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, luxe interiors + design, Mansion Global, Southern Home, The New York Times, O Magazine and a host of others.

Stuart said she is beginning to see an increase in home office requests from clients. Transforming spaces into functional work areas all depends on space and not surprisingly, the backdrops that one sees during a Zoom meeting, are top requests.

Stuart answered a few questions about what’s happening with design in home office spaces and how she goes about working with clients to ensure work spaces are not only functional, but inspiring.

What are you as far as new trends for home offices? From décor to design to products?

Elizabeth Stuart

Stuart

Stuart: It seems that the drive to the office just got shorter. Home offices are a trend that I doubt will ever go away. The pandemic has shown that working from home...works. There’s some adapting that has to take place, obviously, but people do that well in that necessity is the mother of invention. A workspace for the computer or laptop, decent light for the screen and camera (who ever thought we would need that!) and a backdrop of sorts seems to be coming up a lot in design conversations.

What about colors? Do clients love light and bright or are you seeing more deep-hued tones in home offices?

Home Office ES

Traditional finishes mixes beautifully with pops of eclectic color lighting and decor  in an office off a living area. Photo/Elizabeth Stuart.

Stuart: I don’t see a new design trend for colors but possibly that’s based off of the type of designer I am. I don’t believe that trends drive the design as much as what works for the client. Do they feel more confident in a light room or do they prefer the room to be cozy? Are they a banker and need to have everything very clean and simple? Or, are they in a design field where it’s important to project creativity? Those are aspects we are seeing.

How do go about designing a home office -- what do you ask clients when you go about designing this space?

Stuart: How many children do you have?! Where are their rooms located in the family areas where there will be lots of noise as it relates to the home office? Where are you most comfortable and is most of your work being done at a desk? Do you want to look at a window or is that distracting? Do you like to work sitting in a chair and if so, what height pull up table will we need to make sure so that you are not leaning over hurting your neck all day?

Are you seeing a more of need/increase for home offices, especially now?

Old Village ES2

Let there be light -- good light -- crucial for those virtual meetings. Photo/Elizabeth Stuart.

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Stuart: There are so many more home offices now, during this current climate and I think people are thinking about this as a future way of working if not full-time, part-time. What used to be a library or a dining room is now being turned into a home office. Long dining tables are being divided for families to be able to work together almost like the community table at a restaurant only everyone has headphones on.

What are the most requested elements in a home office?

Old Village ES

A study/office with curated pieces from around the globe at a home in the Old Village. Photo/Elizabeth Stuart.

Stuart: The most requested element that we are seeing is space – finding a space in the home that can be tucked away and used as an office. We have used the guest bedroom with a riding table looking out the window and we have changed the study to be able to be more productive and used as an office. The examples are numerous -- people once weren’t thinking so much about working from home, they were thinking more about how their living area connected to the kitchen. Now, it (home office space) is an item on the list that’s non-negotiable. The most requested thing we are seeing is height adjustable desks or height adjustable computers. Writing desks that can be used as partner desk or just up against a window to enjoy the view “at work.”

Are most of your clients asking for a space carved out of a larger one of more so, separate and specific room for a home office?

Stuart: This depends on the situation and a family’s situation – children, pets, etc. An active household in a perfect world will lean toward a more carved out room, if possible. If it’s touchdown point and you can walk around on the phone, you can have your office call outside or inside – then a carved-out space within a larger one works perfect.

How do you design an office space for a small home or apartment where there is far less room? Any tips?

Box ES

A unique box such as this one is a nice place to store paper clips or other office supplies and looks great on a desk. Photo/Elizabeth Stuart.

Stuart: I have a daughter who lives in New York and I just did this. She has two roommates and all three have different work styles. One is in medical school, one works in the lab, and my daughter is in consulting. They have a long thin table that they press up against the wall and use as a hall table covered in books but when they work the books are removed and it becomes their community table. Each one of them has a desk in their room, but the community area has comfortable chairs and is a place to relax void of any place to work because in this tiny apartment it’s hard to get away from the office, so there are designated spaces for that.

What is your design philosophy?

Stuart: Buy what you love. Function matters and if you can mix function and beauty, comfort isn’t far behind.

Any home office products you love?

Stuart: I love a paper clip. As silly as that sounds, I like all of my papers organized and I love to put my paper clips in a glass ashtray. Perhaps a little ridiculous but it makes me smile. What I really need to buy is a lift for my laptop so I can put my coffee table books back where they belong. Thank God for children who give you tips on how to not look so bad on Zoom calls!

Book ES

If you don't have a computer riser, stack a few coffee table books to get the right angle for virtual meetings. Photo/Elizabeth Stuart.

For more information about Elizabeth Stuart’s shop and designs, visit https://elizabethstuart.com.

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