• Mr. Home and Office

Share A Home Office, Keep Your Marriage

My husband and I have shared a home office for years. At first it was a struggle. We started with one beefy, dark wooded desk-armoire, which devoured our windowless 9- by 11-foot space that doubles as a pass-through to our bedroom. Worse, this mammoth desk provided seating capacity for only one of us at a time.

Despite the money we plunked down for the desk, we relented to create a proper office that worked both within the parameters of the room and for our individual needs.

We replaced the desk-armoire with two sleeker-profile white desks similar to those in the project shown here, by GB Group Construction. (I'll show you my office in the Comments.) After researching loads of desks and agreeing on very few, we opted for build-your-own modular components, for which we paid about $2,000 for two complete desk setups. I had a piece of glass custom cut ($100) to lay over mine for a more elegant and cleaner feel.

Ah, breathing room finally. Despite there now being a bigger furniture footprint, the room feels lighter due to the desks' whiteness and their significantly shorter height. Plus, we each have our own space. My husband took the larger corner unit, while I took a smaller desk in exchange for a partial view through a nearby bedroom window.

The takeaway: Each partner needs different things in an office, and each will need a voice in the decision process. Concessions are part of the process. In this case it was the window seat versus the bigger desk.

Next: Create your dream home office


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Natural lighting is a good thing to have in a workspace, like this one by David Howell Design. This was especially true for our dark cave, an interior room into which incorporating a window wasn't possible. Our solution was to have a light tube installed (it's a one-story room) for about $1,500.

This improved our moods immediately.

The takeaway: Designing a room with a partner isn't just about the pretty stuff you put in it. You have to strike the right mood that will create an enjoyable working space for both partners.

Given that we had already maxed out our office budget, my husband and I decided to forgo the top-of-the-line office chairs, just as this office by Smithouse Construction does. Instead we used our extra dining chairs, which were otherwise cluttering up the dining room.

My husband's setup worked fine, but after a few weeks, I realized my chair and shorter stature weren't going to be a good long-term fit. I reclaimed the original office chair as mine.

The takeaway: It's much better to have each partner comfortable at his or her respective desk than to attempt a matchy-matchy look that makes someone physically uncomfortable.

To make room for our two new desks, we had to forfeit one of our two bookcases. To offset the loss of storage, we added open shelves ($85 each) above both desks, just as this project by Dixon Construction features. Turns out a 4-foot shelf at arm's length from each of our seats is much more convenient for containing personal items and for us to retrieve them.

The takeaway: To create harmony between partners, it's important that each has a personal space that the other respects and stays out of.

And finally, every working relationship needs rules. These are our rules to ensure that our shared home office remains marriage friendly:

Keep your side clean.If you need to take a call, do so in another room so as to not disturb the other's workflow.Wear headphones when listening to audio.Always carve out a coffee or lunch break together to remember why we chose to share a home office in the first place.

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