Designer’s Notebook: Office Retreat

Stel Builders creates a stately executive suite to accommodate its client’s pressing need for a dedicated home office.

by Kyle Clapham

At Stel Builders, we’ve noticed a large influx of clients needing more dedicated space in their homes as many companies pivot towards working remotely. It has also become quickly apparent for most families that working from home has unexpected challenges.

While spending more time with family and being surrounded by all the favorite things we love is great, it also becomes very clear that daily commotions are everywhere. The desk in the corner of the bedroom or a barstool at the kitchen table rarely fosters a productive work environment.

Ultimately, similar challenges were what led to our client’s need for a dedicated room for conducting business. We jumped at the chance to create a flexible space that could provide a private room for deep focus yet still connect with indoor and outdoor living areas.

The client needed some extra room to keep up with their growing family and wanted a new office space to include a powder room accessible from the office and the side yard patio area. The best place for the new addition was at the front face of the home, which required the designers to blend the siding and stucco of the existing house to the new addition.

Because of site constraints, the designers needed to integrate the addition’s massing with the clients’ desire to include a pool in the overall site plan. The solution was a balanced design approach involving close coordination with the landscape designer and architectural team.

Shifting Paradigm

A shared powder room conveniently serves both the office and outdoor living areas. A large four-panel patio slider floods the space with natural light and provides access to the new side yard pool/outdoor living area. One unexpected side effect of the new space was a pleasant surprise for our client.

By creating a connection between the living room and new office, the spaces felt purposeful with a more organic connection. This became more apparent during “off” hours when entertaining and family gatherings took over.

We find most modern families don’t utilize the redundancy of living areas common to more traditional architecture. The formal living room, adjacent to the new office, was a rarely used corner of the house.

Not all in-home offices need to be tucked away in a small room surrounded by gypsum board and wall-to-wall carpeting. We chose to elevate the remote work experience by bringing a piece of stateliness and elegance to our client’s home.

The custom-built bookcase towers are an ideal place to celebrate keepsakes, books and family pictures. Including these personal touches serves as a reminder that our personal lives can be a more integral part of the office environment.

High-efficiency windows and doors bring in plenty of natural light yet still meet strict California energy requirements. A large half-lite pocket door system partitions the living room from the office and allows borrowed light to flow through the spaces. Topping things off, we introduced a coffered ceiling to help add dimension and bring human scale to an otherwise tall and narrow space.

Fostering Integration

From the exterior, it was important to blend the original home’s architectural features with the new addition to create an impression it was always intended to be there. One of our original designs proposed a second-story addition to be built over the living room; however, this presented a couple design challenges.

The second-floor option made a compositional imbalance and would block several windows into existing adjacent living spaces. The single-story option soon became the ideal configuration. Through carful integration and attention to proportion, the addition’s massing strikes the right balance.

The home is also part of an exclusive San Diego community, and HOA approval was necessary before we could build. Stel’s design passed with flying colors. Receiving greater community buy-in gave our client the peace of mind their design would fit the fabric of the neighborhood.

As part of a master plan for the lot, a side yard outdoor living area and pool needed to exist in harmony with the new office addition. Due to site constraints, one of the project’s challenges was to accommodate both the pool and office within a very restrictive side yard setback.

Unwavering Process

At Stel we believe the design-build model lends a wholistic approach to the construction process. In-house architectural services and project management create a cohesive team and a single point of contact for our clients. As a smaller firm we’re able to provide the individual attention our clients rely on to help them thorough what can sometimes be an overwhelming experience.

We’ve also formed strong relationships with our trades and close coordination is key when embarking on such highly detailed projects. From foundation to finish carpentry, each trade professional is paramount to a successful project. QR

Seth Larson, CAPS, CGBP, CGR, is the president of Stel Builders, a design-build firm in San Diego, California. Established in 2006, Stel Builders focuses its expertise on the small niche market of residential remodeling. By selectively focusing on residential projects, the company is able to give its clients specialized attention and complete satisfaction in making sure each project fulfills each client’s unique needs.

Master Design Awards 2022
Addition Less Than $250,000 | Bronze


Company Information

Stel Builders
San Diego, Calif.
stelbuilders.com

Project Information
Location: San Diego, Calif.
Square footage before: 3,607
Square footage after: 3,787
Project cost: $120,147
Project designer: Jason Dorfman
Architect of record: Frank Piermarini
Project manager: Brian Wood

Product Information
Tile: As Stone
Flooring: San Carlos Collection
Cabinetry: James Martin Vanities
Countertops: Silestone
Toilet: Kohler
Sink faucet: Delta

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