Welcome to our new series, Behind the Design with Thermador—an inside look at how designers approach a project, gather inspiration, and transform certain rooms into the space of your dreams. The home office is a huge 2020 trend as homeowners look for the best ways to incorporate personality, function, and exceptional design into their work-from-home spaces.

I’ve been following Ili Hidalgo and Terracotta Design Build on Instagram for years, and they’ve been a great source of inspiration while remodeling certain rooms in my home. Ili is an amazing member of the Thermador Design Council a previous Kitchen Design Challenge winner, and an exceptional award-winning designer based in Atlanta.

Ili shares a glimpse of her own home office, along with some of the incredible workspaces she has designed for her clients. Check out Ili’s tips and tricks for creating your perfect home office:

1. Hi, Ili! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work?
I was born in Boston but growing up on the sunny shores of Puerto Rico constitutes me as an island girl through and through. Flash forward 25 years in Georgia, I now consider Atlanta my adopted hometown. Together with my college roommate, I founded Terracotta 15 years ago and our studio provides residential interior design, architecture and construction. Construction and design pulse through my veins, with innovative thinking as my strength and grit as my engine. I am a passionate horseback rider, dog lover, fashion aficionado, and fanatical beachgoer.

2. What are important elements to consider when choosing the nook or space for your work spot?
Include elements that are visually inspiring. Make it functional but make it special. Surround yourself with curated pieces of art or photographs, fabrics and furniture pieces. Natural light is high on the list, so if it’s possible, try to designate your space near a window.

3. Are there any design rules in terms of creating a calming space to work? If so, do you ever break any of these rules?

There is really only one rule: Make it comfortable and ergonomic. The rest is up for grabs. If you need bright lighting, fresh flowers, soft music, or candle scents, find the combination that helps you hit your working stride. For me, it’s all of the above AND having my two big dogs nearby.

But seriously, to be calm is to be organized. I like plenty of storage options in the form of vases, cups and trays. I try to keep a “to be filed” stack topped with a fashionable paper weight until I am ready to put things away.


4. What tips can you provide for designing a workspace that incorporates a client’s personality? How might this work in a multi-functional space?

It’s very important to carve out a dedicated desktop, especially when designing a multifunctional space. To plop down on the dining table is OK in a bind, but not for the long haul.

If you have to share space, move furniture around until you find a suitable area to claim. Once found, select pieces that work with the surroundings and add to the main function of the space in a pinch. Instead of conventional office furniture with corporate cubicle vibes, consider mixing it up with an eclectic look. For example, a narrow desk in a dining room, can double as a buffet. A vintage dresser in a guest bedroom can double as file cabinet. A small round table in the basement can be cleared for a mean game of cards.

5. What are your top tips for combining comfort and design in a home office or workspace? When it comes to selecting paint for a workspace, do you stay neutral or go bold? What about shelving—do you gravitate toward open shelving or hidden storage? 

There’s certainly a discussion for both. Bold can be impactful, beautiful and “cocoon-ish” while neutrals are clean, bright, and lend a seemingly modern aesthetic when integrated with colorful accessories and artwork.

Open shelving is easily accessible, affordable and a good DIY project that definitely multi-tasks as storage and a place for books, curiosities and art pieces. But, if your level of tolerance for things being out and about is low, then hidden storage is the way to go. I personally like bright white walls, colorful touches, and open shelving. I work better in spaces that “breathe.”

6. We would love to hear your thoughts on beautifying all necessary technology. Any tips or tricks for covering cords or designing around monitors or a computer mouse?

A Mac is artwork in itself. A wireless keyboard and mouse will simplify all that business. If you are dealing with a lot of cords, try gathering them in place with tape and zip-ties. There are also plenty of cord troughs that can be added to the underside of any desk. Label your cords, for easy access later. Use well-curated stacks of books to elevate screens and make the viewing ergonomic.

7. Do you have any advice when it comes to creating a workspace in a compact room or unconventional space?

Lately, a lot of us have all found ourselves in this predicament. Time to get creative and reimagine an office out of an unlikely space such as an extra closet, a stair landing or a kitchen niche. Lean on the side of simplicity, perhaps include pieces like stowaway desk options that can be folded up, hidden or transformed at the end of working hours.

This space is soft, modern, AND comfortable with a lot of fun color. It’s a set for two, however modular in minutes for flexibility, this office can accommodate the opportunity for a co-worker.

8. Where do you like to work? Do you have a studio space or desk you like to work at?

I transformed my dining room into a home office. For me, it was a much more effective use of space, situated where I can conduct a Zoom call while being in eyeshot of the rest of the main floor. I love the natural light coming through the large bay windows. The room was large enough to “go bold” with a rich color on the ceiling and glam wallpaper from Hygge & West on the walls.

Do you actually use your formal living room?  We took advantage of all the beautiful natural light in this rarely occupied space to set up my home office. Built-in bookcases transformed perfectly for stashing, accented with classic modern furnishings, lighting, and artwork.


9. Do you have any favorite workspaces or study nooks you have created you would be willing to share? What were your favorite aspects of them?

Absolutely, these spaces have always been a popular request from our clients and we love the challenge of designing them. These are fun spaces and more necessary than ever.

In this space, there are handsome contrasting walls mixed with lush soft textures, natural woods and metals for the ideal balance of style and comfort.

Thanks, Ili! Great insight for creating the perfect home office or work nook. For more exceptional design, find inspiration on Terracotta Design Build’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/terracottadesignbuild/

To see a full tour of Ili’s personal home office and more tips and tricks, visit our “Behind the Design with Thermador” highlight on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thermadorhome/