Working it Out

While some of us may spend so much time in our offices that they sometimes feel like home, others have jobs that actually allow them to work from home. The office can be crafted out of an existing space or renovated (or built) to precise specifications. But caution: distractions lurk. Children, spouses or pets may demand attention. The TV is nearby. One thing, however, is certain: home offices need not be dull and dreary, but can be sources of inspiration for some very creative output.

Eugenia Uhl
Profession and Company: Photographer, Eugenia Uhl Photography (She has photographed for a number of magazines, House Beautiful, Southern Accents, Travel & Leisure, and this one, and has done the photography for “Commander’s Kitchen,” by Ti Martin and Jamie Shannon; “The Flavor of New Orleans,” by Dickie Brennan, Leslie Brennan and Gus Martin; and the food photography for the “Galatoire’s Cookbook,” by Melvin Rodrigue and Jyl Benson.
Resides: Bywater

How long have you had a home office? 18 years
Why do you work from home?  When I first started out, it was about economics. With the space I have now, it just makes sense. It’s an old pharmacy with a house attached. The best part is no commute!
What is the most high-tech and low-tech item in your home office? The most low-tech is my homemade light panels. Most high-tech is my terabyte external hard drive.
What item (s) do you consider essential for a good home office? Separate phone lines for your office and home. Anything that keeps distraction at bay when you are working or concentrating on something.
How do you discipline yourself when you work at home? I made the commitment years ago to have regular office hours, with at least 50 hours per week total, usually more. So, even if I take the luxury of an afternoon off, I’ll make up for it in terms of time.
Is there an item in your office that is a source of inspiration? Mostly I have
books and magazines that I use for inspiration—stacks of them. And music.
What do you like most about working at home? The convenience.
What do you like the least about working at home? In one sense, you
never leave work.
How do you work while the family is at home? Any rules? My fiancé, David Rebeck, is also home working, practicing viola, so it works out fine.
If you need to have a meeting, do you have it at your home office, and if not, where’s your favorite place to have one? Usually my office or theirs. I’m addicted to CC’s frozen pomegranate tea, so right now I’d pick CC’s.
What is your guilty pleasure about working at home? The fridge is close by! And David, too.


Ellen Johnson
Profession and Company: Freelance PR/Marketing: One on One Productions
Resides: Lake Vista
How long have you had a home office?
14 years
Why do you work from home? I’m a one-man band. It’s convenient and saves on overhead. And, I promised my husband I would be spending more time in the kitchen.
What is the most high-tech and low-tech item in your home office? Low-tech: The kitchen counter that serves as my desk; High-tech: My two 17-inch MacBooks.
What item(s) do you consider essential for a good home office? Lots of counter space. That’s why the kitchen works best for me.
How do you discipline yourself when you work at home? Luckily, I’ve never struggled much with self-discipline. Getting me to stop working is the problem.
Is there an item in your office that is a source of inspiration? My two Weimaraners, Emma and Tom. They’re great company, make me laugh and remind me to take a break from time to time. Now, if I could just get them to write press releases…
What do you like most about working at home? Flexibility of work hours and I can wear what I want.
What do you like the least about working at home? I get totally immersed in my projects and it’s hard to stop working. Nine-to-five sometimes becomes 24/7.
How do you work while the family is at home? Any rules? Don’t talk to me while I’m writing. And no phone calls after 6 p.m. unless it’s an emergency. E-mail will do.
If you need to have a meeting, do you have it at your home office, and if not, where’s your favorite place to have one? My home is a wonderful meeting space, but inconvenient to most of my clients. I usually go to them.What is your guilty pleasure about working at home? Cappuccino and chocolate at my fingertips.

William Sonner
Profession and Company: Architect, William Sonner Designs
Resides: Uptown
How long have you had a home office? Nine years
Why do you work from home? Convenience
What is the most high-tech and low-tech item in your home office? High-tech: drawing on a computer; Low-tech: hand drawing.
What item(s) do you consider essential for a good home office? Computers, plotters, copy machine, fax and a phone.
How do you discipline yourself when you work at home? The “list” that has to be done!
Is there an item in your office that is a source of inspiration? Salvaged architectural elements.
What do you like most about working at home? Getting work done at odd times of day and night.
What do you like the least about working at home? Not being able to get away from the office.
How do you work while the family is at home? Any rules? Get up early and get the job done.
If you need to have a meeting, do you have it at your home office, and if not, where’s your favorite place to have one? It varies between the dining room/conference room, the client’s house or the job site.
What is your guilty pleasure about working at home? Watching old movies while working.

Vesta Fort
Profession and Company: Writer, Decorator
Resides: Uptown (New Orleans) and Fairhope, Ala.
How long have you had a home office? 10 years
Why do you work from home? Before kids, it was because I could. Now it’s because I have to with two little ones under age six. Even though it’s much harder to work at home with all of the interruptions, I’ve enjoyed being there during my kids’ preschool years.
What is the most high-tech and low-tech item in your home office? Some copy/scanner/printer thing that I can never work properly is the most high tech. The most low tech—and my favorite thing in my office—is the fairly large old-fashioned metal trashcan. I also have this big woven tray that I use to carry my “to do” pile and rolodex back and forth between here and Fairhope. It’s essential.
What item(s) do you consider essential for a good home office? A large place to spread out, adequate storage, and for writing, a good view.
How do you discipline yourself when you work at home? Up until now it’s been nearly impossible to discipline myself and I am a terrible procrastinator. So, mostly I wait until the last minute and then I sit my kids in front of the TV and get my work done. I now have both kids in school 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and so far, I am amazed at how much I can accomplish.
Is there an item in your office that is a source of inspiration? In New Orleans, it’s the trees I see from my office (it’s on the second floor). In Fairhope, it’s the office itself. I just finished my office/guest house and I love piddling around back there.
What do you like most about working at home? Being able to multitask.
What do you like the least about working at home? The opportunities for procrastination.
How do you work while the family is at home? Any rules? In New Orleans, I close the door to my bedroom and into the office/closet that I created from an adjacent screened-in porch. It’s amazingly quiet up there until it’s not and then it’s mayhem. I think my kids have finally grasped the concept that when I say “I’m working” it’s best not to interrupt me.
If you need to have a meeting, do you have it at your home office, and if not, where’s your favorite place to have one? I have had meetings in there (Uptown), but not often because it’s a tiny bit awkward being that you must go through my bedroom. For decorating, I typically go to the person’s house, and for other meetings I go to PJ’s on Magazine Street.
What is your guilty pleasure about working at home? Not leaving the house. It may sound strange to say this, but I love my houses—even though they’re small. I love to hang out in them, and with two kids constantly in tow, it’s much easier just to stay home—you don’t have to get yourself and everybody else dressed.

Joseph M. Bruno
Profession and Company: Joseph M. Bruno, APLC, Federal Trial Lawyer
Resides: Carrollton
How long have you had a home office? Since 1995
Why do you work from home? Because I can.
What is the most high-tech and low-tech item in your home office? High-tech: Computer with a Citrix connection; Low-tech: A beautiful wing chair that was made by my father.
What item(s) do you consider essential for a good home office? A Citrix connection.
How do you discipline yourself when you work at home? I don’t.
Is there an item in your officethat is a source of inspiration? The views of my garden, my art collection and my reference books.
What do you like most about working at home? The environment.
What do you like the least about working at home? No staff.
How do you work while the family is at home? Any rules? When the oak is swung, knock.
What is your guilty pleasure about working at home? The quiet.