The latest episode of CBS Sunday Morning begged the question, “Will we ever get back to the office?” Nearly one year into the pandemic, most of us are still working from home, making exactly where that space might be within our residences more important than ever.
With Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley as one of the urban exodus epicenters, house hunters are seeking opportunities with dedicated spaces as they transition from city life to mountain life — all while remaining with their jobs and companies, just now working remotely. According to a recent report in the Aspen Times, real estate sales in 2020 topped a record-setting $3.1 billion in total property sales volume in Pitkin County.
“Obviously, when COVID started in March, none of us knew where the future was going and it was scary. And then things really started picking up in August, which resulted in good work for us,” shared Sarah Broughton, principal of Rowland + Broughton. “The movement we’re still seeing is unprecedented.”
“The impacts of COVID-19 have contributed to the need for remote working and the necessity for a well-designed home-office working environment. It will be interesting to see how these choices will adapt in a post-COVID world,” added Poss Architecture + Planning and Interior Design managing partner and director of design Andy Wisnoski. “Although these spaces were most certainly included in home design before the pandemic, they were primarily in homes of the more affluent. Today, such amenities have become almost a necessity to a much broader swath of the population. Depending on the scale of the home, these spaces can be manifested as smaller, more intimate environments or full-scale, nearly commercially-sized spaces.”
Still, with no definite end in sight of working from home — a trend that could even become the new normal in corporate culture — we turned to three of the leading Aspen-based architecture and interior design firms to shed some light into what clients have requested over the past year and how they’re designing for the future.
“The impacts of COVID-19 have contributed to the need for remote working and the necessity for a well-designed home-office working environment. It will be interesting to see how these choices will adapt in a post-COVID world,”
Sarah Broughton, Principal
“One of the biggest things we’re seeing is doing two home offices — a his and her, or his and his — just separate home offices are becoming increasingly important. And the ability for them to close off from the rest of the home, obviously for privacy. Everyone’s different with some liking to have them adjacent to each other or really far apart near certain parts of the house. And obviously, having an environment that works well for Zoom calls, for web meetings — good lighting, backdrop, camera setups, multiple screens and wire management are all elements we’re planning more of now. Sit-stand desks are also super important, so we’re thinking, ‘How do we incorporate that function in a really beautiful way that doesn’t feel corporate?’ As we’re planning new projects, home offices are one hundred percent part of the program. Whereas maybe before, it would be more of a secondary request — it’s definitely become one of the primary program elements of a house over the past year — especially as people were just coming [to a second home in Aspen] for their vacation and now, they’re staying.”
Pictured: The Lookout | Trend: Built-in Tech | rowlandandbroughton.com | Photo By: Brent Moss
Rachel Guest, Director of Interior Design
“While owners have always had home offices, they are now paying more attention to what’s in them and how they look and feel. Minimalist offices are what our clients seek, but also want these spaces to be light, bright and homey. They want them decluttered, so the right storage is critical. Our lives are busy and chaotic — and the office can be a place for the opposite. Clients want an office that is cohesive, that blends in with the rest of the home with rooms flowing from one to the other. Windows to bring in natural light remain important. Affluent clients want the office space to be their own private getaway, with doors that shut to give them privacy and warrant an escape to their ‘me’ space.”
Pictured: Hawthorne House | Trend: Secret Storage | billposs.com | Photo By: Pat Sudmeier
Alex Klumb, Principal
“Many of our clients come to CCY Architects looking for retreat — for environments that allow for connectedness with landscape. Because of that, we find they want functions such as home offices that allow them to spend as much time as possible on their property. With our Meadow House, for example, we built a separate pavilion for a home office, creating separation between home and work while providing the clients a place to work on site. We have also seen interest in remote outbuildings, as seen in our recently completed Gammel Damm House.”
Pictured: Meadow House | Trend: Spacial Separation | ccyarchitects.com | Picture By: Jeremy Bittermann