Paint yourself out of a corner – Office Design

Tom Philbin

Not all offices are created equal. Some are too small or too dark; others suffer from myriad structural flaws that can affect you and your work.

If your office is less than perfect, correcting the problems structurally could cost you a bundle. But there are some cosmetic strategies that can make design problems disappear, or substantially reduce their impact. Try using these tips to solve your problems-before you start ripping down walls.

1. Low ceiling. Some offices have ceilings that can part your hair. This is particularly true in basements, where ceilings are lower than the standard height of eight feet.

One way to “raise” the ceiling is with decorative wall coverings. Jeanne Byington of the Wallcovering Association suggests using a striped or vertical-patterned covering to make walls look higher.

Paint can also be used to good effect. Jim Marcella, a painting contractor from Ocala, Florida, says that painting the ceiling a lighter color than the walls tends to raise it. The best color is a dead-flat white. “It makes the ceiling disappear,” he says.

2. High ceiling. Most of us would like an office with a sky-high cathedral ceiling, but if you feel your ceiling is just plain too high, one way to lower” it is to put a decorative border along the top edges of the walls. Decorative border strips are available in many designs and in widths ranging from two inches to two feet. Byington says that adding a border just below the ceiling tends to make it seem lower-and your office a little cozier.

There are a couple of ways you can use paint to lower a ceiling. You can apply a medium or dark color on your walls and ceilings, or use a darker color on the ceiling than on the walls. Many people prefer the first solution because it seems more natural.

Of course, you can also install a drop ceiling, which rests on a metal grid that can be installed at any height you wish. A drop ceiling can help solve noise and insulation problems as well as hiding pipes, wiring, or severely damaged ceilings.

3. Undersized room. If your office is too small, light-colored wall coverings with large, open patterns should make it look bigger. Paint in pale colors can also create breathing room in a tight space. Mirrors also help expand a room. “You can double your environment with mirrors,” says designer-contractor Mark Rutter of Projects Plus in New Canaan, Connecticut. Any kind of mirror can be used, but Rutter says plate mirrors work best. They can be cut to any size and installed anywhere with mirror glue.

4. Oversized room. If you want a more intimate feeling in a large room, use paint or wall coverings in a dark color. Border strips can also be used at the wall/ceiling juncture or around the middle of the wall. You might consider, say, painting the lower half of the wall and papering the upper half.

5. Narrow room. Some offices seem more like hallways than rooms. Solution; Paint the walls at each end-the short walls-with a darker, warmer color than you use on the two long walls.

6. irregular walls. If a chimney or wall section juts into a room, one way to camouflage it is simply to paper or paint it in the same covering or color that’s used in the rest of the room. This treatment tends to make irregularities less obtrusive.

You can also hide a wall jog by making it a component in a new storage space. For example, if your wall has an even, floor-to-ceiling recess in it, you might fill the recess with shelves for storing books or office supplies (installing shelves is a great way to camouflage many structural quirks). camouflage many structural quirks).

TOM PHILBIN, a novelist and do-it-yourself author, wrote Tom Philbin’s Cost-Wise Bathroom Remodeling (John Wiley and Sons, 1992) and How to Hire a Home-Improvement Contractor Without Getting Chiseled (St. Martin’s Press, 1991).

COPYRIGHT 1992 Freedom Technology Media Group

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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