From blah to beautiful. Home office makeover transforms a dismal spare bedroom into an efficient, attractive workspace

WHEN Neal and Karin Shakery, who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, decided they needed an office at home, they gave over their second bedroom to the project. Neal is a graphic artist and Karin is a writer-editor who does most of her work at home. Like thousands of others, they wanted an adequate and pleasant workspace at home, and weren't willing to settle for a makeshift arrangement of hand-me-down furnishings in some corner.

The Shakerys had purchased their modest 1950s ranch-style house over ten years ago for its great location - just 10 minutes from the beach and a half-hour from the city.

Later, skyrocketing real estate prices kept them from becoming part of the move-up market, and they decided to stay put and tackle the remodeling projects that would bring their house into the 1980s and make it more compatible with their life style.

When they chose to give the small 12-foot-by-14-foot spare bedroom a facelift for their home office, it had faded wallpaper, worn carpeting, and seemed drab and tacky. Sliding glass doors leading to a deck were the only source of light. Yet with professional help and an outlay of about $7,000, the room was transformed into an efficient and attractive dual-purpose space which serves as home office as well as guest quarters.

Since neither partner had the time nor the skills to attempt a do-it-yourself project, they decided it would be money well spent to hire Osburn Design of San Francisco to design an unusual redwood wall paneling system for the room, and contractor Michael Bean to build and install it.

The resulting flexible system consists of 14-inch-by-29-inch modular panels repeated throughout the room, two desk units, and several movable book ``boxes'' that can be suspended from the panels wherever needed, with adjustable shelves that can be placed within the boxes or between them. Steven Osburn's concept is both original and innovative, and presents a pattern of both horizontal and perpendicular elements.

Because of its warm color and the sound insulation it provides, vertical grain redwood lumber was chosen for the system and for molding and door and window framing. A clear, semi-gloss lacquer was applied to seal and finish the wood. Materials for the job cost $2,186, including the $1,250 for redwood lumber, $64 for two gallons of lacquer, and $30 for primer and paint for the ceiling.

The couple, working with the designers, selected wall-to-wall nylon carpeting in red, blue, and gray at $27 a yard; thin-slatted blinds for the door-window for $112; and two low-voltage Halo lighting fixtures mounted on tracks for $175.

A futon sofa bed offers daytime seating and can be unfolded at night to sleep the occasional guest. A comfortable occasional chair and an antique basket which doubles as a coffee table complete a conversation grouping opposite the desk arrangement.

The designer's fee was $1,500 and the contractor's fee for building and installing all the redwood elements was $3,500. The Shakerys consider that investment well worth the dramatic metamorphosis of their dismal spare bedroom into the handsome and useful space they needed and wanted.

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