All Dressed Up: Bourn to Balance

A few years ago I met Jennifer Bourn at a conference where we were both speakers. I left her session with almost two pages of notes and plenty of ideas for improving my website. Jennifer’s enthusiasm for what she does makes web design, branding, and anything to do with the Internet, interesting. 

Recently I saw Jennifer and her husband at another business conference. During lunch I remembered she had posted a few pictures of her home office on Facebook, so of course I had to ask her if she’d share them on Working Naked.

How would you describe your business?

Jennifer: I co-own (with my husband Brian) Bourn Creative, a full-service design agency that specializes in digital branding and creating high-end, custom publishing platforms with WordPress. We work with successful businesses to develop and refine brands, elevate market perception, create new opportunities, and build websites that work when our clients are not working.

What size is your home office?

Jennifer: My office is approximately 11′ x 11’ with a full bath attached. It is intended to be a spare bedroom, but it has never been anything other than my office. It’s close to the kitchen and the main activity in the house, but separate enough to be out of the fray. Plus, it overlooks the backyard, so I can open the window and watch/hear the kids swim and play.

working from home

 How have you furnished your home office?

Jennifer: My desk and the file cabinet came from a furniture store near our house that specialized in home offices. My desk chair and the comfy red chair came from Scandinavian Furniture designs. As far as the other items go:

  • The photo frames came from JoAnn
  • The plants are from Ikea and the pots are from Crate & Barrel
  • The black and white desk organizers are from Target
  • The large wall calendar is custom

What did you do to make your home office more functional?

Jennifer: The kids used to empty their school folders out on my desk and their stuff would get mixed with my work stuff. It didn’t work! The stacking trays at the end of my desk return keeps all that loose paperwork organized. The top slot is for kids stuff only, the middle is for my personal stuff, and the bottom is for client paperwork.

home office design and layout

I used to have a big whiteboard on the wall where the large picture frames are now, and I loved it. But when we moved all of our project management to Basecamp, we found we used it less and less. Earlier this year we took it down, painted the wall, and added the photo frames to remind me just why I do what I do and work so hard.

The giant 36×48” wall calendar is an absolute MUST for us personally and professionally. I couldn’t find a simple, plain one, so I just make my own and have it printed and laminated at FedEx Office. This calendar shows all of our vacations, kid trips, work travel, commitments, and events in one location. We can quickly assess project timelines, deadlines, adjust scheduling, and make plans with a complete view of what we have going on.

 How did you customize your home office to fit your business needs?

Jennifer: Luckily we didn’t have to do much to make the room work for me. The room was always a quiet workspace, even when the kids were babies. Before I had my nice office furniture, I worked on a 6’ folding plastic table from Costco with an old chair from my parents my dog has chewed on.

The room does get hot in the summer, so we planted a big shade tree outside the window to shade the room and added a ceiling fan. When I finally invested in real office furniture and made my space a true professional, creative space, I felt so much more legit. Having a professional, dedicated space has been great for productivity and mindset.

Plus, this room has the under the stair storage for the closet, which helps keep my actual office pretty clean. This space stores most of our loose Legos, as well as all of our business supplies and arts and crafts supplies.

Home office storage space

 Did you design part of your office with your children in mind?

Jennifer: My husband and I have our own separate offices in the house…his is off limits, mine is not. My kids are always part of everything. For years when they were really little, they would sit on the other side of my desk return and color, do homework, or even play video games on my laptop. They would pretend that they were “working” while I was working.

The red chair in the corner is also the “talk to mom” chair. I often work with my headphones on and my music blaring, so whether it’s Brian or one of the kids, they all know to come in, sit down, and wait for me to get to a stopping point.

Jennifer had me at “separate home offices” which is always a good idea when two spouses work from home full-time. Starting with customizing her office with her family in mind, to creating a storage area most people only dream about, this home office shows that it’s possible to balance your home and office life when they’re in the same place.

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