How to transform an unheated Minnesota porch into a comfortable home office

The challenge: Susan Misterek bought her 1941 Tudor-style house in Roseville with plans to renovate and update it as soon as she could.

One goal of the extensive renovation was to create a home office. Misterek, who often works from home, has knee discomfort, so an office on the main floor was a priority. She wanted it to be flooded with light, comfortable all year long and to have easy access to the backyard, for letting her dogs out.

 

The team: Architect Joy Martin, Joy Martin Architecture, ­joyarchitecture.com. The contractor was Quality Cut Remodelers, qualitycut.net, and structural engineer was Mattson Macdonald Young, ­mattsonmacdonald.com, with interior design by Allison Landers, allisonlandersdesignstudio.com.

 

The solution: The house had a three-season porch finished with indoor-outdoor carpet, dark-stained cedar paneling and single-pane windows — but it was not insulated and had no heat. “It was cold and drafty, and had just been used for storage,” Martin said.

The porch was not suitable for a year-round office in its original condition. Martin’s plan was to tear it down to the studs and rebuild a 135-square-foot home office/sunroom on the original concrete foundation, which was in good condition.

 

Let there be heat. Martin added a Mini-Split HVAC unit, as well as electric in-floor heat to keep the office and the gray porcelain floor tile warm in the winter. “You had to step down into the old porch, so we created a flush entry from the living room to the home office,” she said.

 

Desk set: Martin proposed a built-in desk that spans the length of the rear wall. The 12-foot-long custom desktop is walnut, and the file cabinets and drawers are white enameled wood.

“You can never have too much flat space,” Misterek said. “There’s room for two computer work areas and a printer” — plus plenty of electrical outlets for charging and computer connections to support an office setup.

 

Cozy and comfortable: The office/sunroom has new double-glazed energy-efficient windows, spray-foam insulation and a heated tiled floor. “We really tightened up the envelope,” Martin said.

During the day, sunlight flows in on three sides. At night, Misterek pulls down shades for privacy. “Having all that light makes me feel energized and alert,” she said.

 

Staying in character: Martin kept the exposed red-toned brick wall from the chimney, and saved and painted the original beadboard ceiling a fresh white hue. For the new windows, “we chose the double-hung style to fit with the period of the home,” Martin said.

 

Door to the world: The old porch had no access to the backyard, so Martin added a door in the home office. The new door transforms the function of the room, she said. Misterek can let her dogs out while working, and she can see what’s happening in the yard.

 

Easy-care siding: Martin replaced the existing rotting siding with HardieShingle siding, a low-maintenance prefinished white cementboard.

 

The result: Misterek now has a comfortable and functional office on her home’s main floor, with easy access to her backyard and an indoor-outdoor connection. She can enjoy the winter and summer landscape, thanks to the walls of windows. “Before it was drafty, dark and dingy,” Martin said. “Now it’s a space you want to spend time in.”

 

Best part: “With windows on three sides, it’s my favorite place in the house,” Misterek said. And with heated floors, it’s her pets’ favorite place, too.

@LyUnderwood

 

 

SHARE YOUR EVERYDAY SOLUTION

Everyday Solutions features projects by AIA Minnesota member architects that solve a homeowner’s everyday design challenge. To submit a project for consideration, please send uncompressed JPEG images of the element or space, before and after photos and a brief description of the story behind the project to Angie McKinley: mckinley@aia-mn-org.

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