A home office done in English country style places cozy comfort and classic furnishings center stage. Here are some ways to get the look right.
1. Choose a desk - typically with brass hardware and dark-stained woods - from the following options: kneehole style, secretary (especially Chippendale) or writing-table styles such as Queen Anne. Newer desks in these styles may already be equipped with keyboard drawers. Older pieces can be retrofitted by hinging a drawer front or by adding a keyboard-drawer kit.
2. Consider replacing the desk with a dining or other table of English origin. Push it up against the wall and set shelving on top to utilize its full depth.
3. Consider an armoire outfitted to house the computer, monitor, keyboard, printer and fax machine behind closed doors. Many new armoires are in traditional styles, and antiques can be retrofitted by a skillful carpenter.
4. Choose standard-issue metal cabinets, or find trompe l'oeil-painted pieces, tapestry-covered ottomans or Chippendale-style consoles with hidden filing compartments.
5. Consider an adjustable, swiveling Chippendale or Queen Anne-style chair that's comfortable as well as harmonious with the rest of the decor. If you spend less time in your home office, you may be able to get by with a less comfortable dining room chair. An ergonomically designed industrial or high-tech-looking chair will work, but won't have quite the right look.
6. Use lighting in a classic style - a green glass banker's lamp, a candlestick lamp or a brass piano light.
7. Dress the windows with a full curtain made of a beautiful printed fabric such as chintz, paisley or a subdued floral print. A valance and tiebacks suit the style, too.
8. Select bookcases of dark stained wood for a traditional look.
9. Cover the floor with an Oriental rug, as long as your chair can easily roll around on it. Otherwise, a sisal rug, wood floor or Berber-type wall-to-wall carpets are options.
10. Choose just about anything for the walls, from a traditional paper to paneling. If the walls are drywall or plaster, choose a subdued color - light or dark - for your curtains or rug.
11. Keep knickknacks to a minimum, but a few well-placed and functional items are suitable. Put pens and pencils in a pretty vase, keep business cards in an antique saucer, or choose bookends that fit the style.
12. Hang pictures. Horse-and-hound art is standard fare, but you can also go with old-style prints such as advertising art that pertains to your occupation or interests, or you might choose botanical art or architectural drawings.
13. Choose a well-stuffed easy chair if you need one. Its upholstery should harmonize with other patterns in the room.
14. Use an antique dining table for client conferences, or put a floor-length skirt over any table. Chairs, which should be of traditional style (shield back or ladder back), can be mismatched, but all in a similar finish.
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