his + hers home offices

Living in a small house is one thing, but working in a small house is quite another. But hey, if anyone can figure out a good way to balance the two it should be a couple of architects, right?


Yeah. In terms of how our business is structured, we first established two basic rules: maintain our own projects and our own work spaces. (This is key!) Although there are only two of us, we more or less operate in the same way as a larger firm. Kyle and I both act as our own project managers, but share resources and collaborate when there’s a time crunch or we need to bounce ideas off each other. We even have Monday morning staff meetings to discuss what’s going on for that week. (Ok, sometimes we’re in our pajamas.)

Here’s another thing, we don’t divide everything 50/50. During the remodel process we learned that we work better together if tasks are allocated by what a person is interested in or good at, rather than “you install that half of the tile and I’ll do the other half”. (The same applies to doing laundry or paying bills.) It’s not for everyone, but for us it means we’re a lot more efficient when it comes to getting house projects done. Now that we’re small business owners, we apply the same strategy to Studio Zerbey.

Focusing on each of our strengths means we also have different needs when it comes to workspaces. For now, I’m working part-time and taking care of Avery, so it made sense for Kyle to take over the loft and for me to have a more mobile work station (aka the dining room table). Originally we thought about setting up my office in the basement, but the idea of schlepping around baby gear and toys (plus the baby) made that idea less appealing. We keep all of our shared resources in the loft (printers, office supplies, books, etc.) and so far it’s working out well. Everything is wifi so if I need to print something I just send it off and by the time I climb up the loft ladder it’s sitting there waiting for me. With this setup, we’re not staring over each other’s shoulders but we can easily ask each other questions or listen to the same music. (Small house win!)

And I like that we each have our own identities: Kyle with his PC and Aeron and me with my MacBook and Eames. Ok, we’re both terribly cliché, but in our own special ways.


18 Responses to “his + hers home offices”

  1. Sounds like you’ve got a great plan and structure. Me and my boyfriend are also working at home, and we do things pretty similar to you guys, working on our strengths rather than a strict 50/50 rule.

  2. mariane says:

    Yeah go Zerbey! I love it when we have a peek of your organisation! You definitly work great together. I was wondering if we could have a peek of what you are working on, I really liked the post about the familly in Colorado facing similar problems than you when you first got chezerbey. Have a great casual friday!!

  3. oh Holland says:

    It’s fun to see how busy, stylish people manage small spaces. The older I get, the more I want less (-!) Having moved from 1300+ to 850 square feet a year ago, I adore having knocked my weekly house cleaning routine down fron 6 to 3 hours, and daily maintenance also is a comparative breeze. Hooray for small house living!

    • Lauren says:

      I know! Sometimes even our small house seems like a lot of work to clean (I blame Bailey) and can’t imagine a larger house. Another perk, being able to vacuum the whole house from one electrical outlet. =)

  4. Janna says:

    Love your setups and great organization 🙂

  5. Great organization! That’s how we separate out tasks at our house too- in the end it all equals out anyways. Nice to get a little personal space yet still be able to work together.

  6. Colleen says:

    I’d love to know how you are balancing your time working and taking care of Avery. My daughter is a week younger and a very busy player who takes four 45 minute naps a day (if I’m lucky), & I’m struggling to find time each day to run my interior design business from home like I did pre-pregnancy. Having my office on the lower level while everything else happens on the main level really isn’t working. I have a big desktop PC though, so I don’t know how I’d work upstairs like you do. 🙁 maybe creating a network so I can access most files via my old laptop & just do AutoCAD & quick books in the office? Hmmm, I think its time to figure this out, thanks for the inspiration.

    • Lauren says:

      I think it definitely helps that I can work while she’s playing on the floor in the living room (fortunately she isn’t terribly mobile yet, so I’m enjoying it while I can!). Avery is a good night sleeper (for now at least!) so she only takes about three 1 hr. naps which is an adjustment over her sleeping most of the day. =) Most days I work a bulk of my hours after she goes to bed (like right now, haha). It’s not always ideal, but it’s a chunk of time I can usually count on. (Same is true for early morning, but I’m not usually dedicated enough to wake up early!)

  7. amy h says:

    We have his + hers offices, too. Since I also take care of the kids all day, I got the office that’s in the living space. He gets the basement — which he doesn’t seem to mind too much. But we’ve had a hard time making it feel like a workspace down there, and not so dank and basement-y.

    • Lauren says:

      Haha, we have friends with a similar set-up. I guess the basement being cavelike could be a good thing for productivity (no outside distractions!) but I know what you mean. At least the loft gets some natural daylight.

  8. Mariane says:

    Hey guys, just wanted to say : Merry christmas!! Hope you have a relax holiday season.
    Mariane xx

  9. Alice says:

    My boyfriend and I have our printer in the living room/partly my working space and he works from a different room, so wifi really is a life saver! Overall I see that our ways of doing things are very similar to yours, yay! 🙂

  10. Amy E says:

    I’m in a 1 bedroom apartment in downtown with my boyfriend and several cats so space is in high demand. I set up a little desk that’s supposed to be for work/school/painting/etc but I always end up doing that in the TV room because the natural light is so much better. Right now, I’m in the TV room

  11. dustin says:

    I love your attitude on dividing work. I get so frustrated when a team/teammates say I’ll do half and you do half when in reality if one person who’s better at doing all of it takes on the task. It’s so much more effective than, let’s both do it. I also don’t like that approach, “let’s do it together”. No thanks I prefer to collaborate and charette, and then get to work on my own. I think often times doing it together takes twice as long.

    And yay for all the wifi devices and printing!

  12. christine says:

    It looks like you have found the perfect solution of how to work and live in a small house. Good Job!!!
    Thanks for sharing

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