YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

HOME OFFICE : Memorabilia Can Make Workplace Site of Inspiration


Surrounded by a half-million baseball cards and auto graphed sports memorabilia ranging from Pete Rose's Cincinnati Reds jersey to Mohammed Ali's boxing robe to a Los Angeles Laker's championship team basketball, businessman Jerry Haack wouldn't trade offices with anyone.

Nor would horror genre author Dean R. Koontz, who finds serenity in the antique furnishings in his office, nor Drabble cartoon creator Kevin Fagan, who gains creative inspiration from his collection of original cartoons by other artists.

By decorating and furnishing their home offices with their personal collections, they have transformed the spaces into sources of inspiration.

When he built his new home in Corona del Mar two years ago, Haack decided to make his office a separate building large enough to house his lifelong collection of baseball cards and sports memorabilia. In his former home, Haack's collection was assembled in one room, but he seldom went in there.

"I wanted to enjoy it every day, so when we built this place, I put the whole collection here in my office," he said. "Having the collection here makes it possible to share it with others."

Haack receives about 75 collectibles visitors per year and 10 to 12 business client visitors per month in his 18-by-20 foot office. His predominantly Eastern and Midwestern business visitors, he said, typically shake their heads and say, "Only in California would you find something like this."

The office has an oak floor and white walls with floor to ceiling storage and display cabinets on one side. The abundant natural light and monochromatic surroundings create an art gallery effect. Balls, bats, gloves, uniforms and other sports collectibles are displayed behind the wall cabinet glass doors, and the approximately 500,000 baseball cards are stored out of sight in counter-height cabinets.

The walls are hung with autographed star player photographs and original sports art lithos and paintings. Uniform jerseys are displayed in custom shadow box frames.

In addition to the simple daily enjoyment of his collection, Haack said the collection is also a way of putting business aside without having to leave the office. "It's a great way to take a break," he said. Haack travels frequently and uses his business travel to add to his collection and to find items for other collectors. Locally, Haack gives talks to kids about sports collections, telling them how to buy and how to avoid getting cheated, and offers advice to others who are sports collectible enthusiasts.

Koontz, the prolific and best-selling author of dark, demonic novels, such as his latest, "Dragon Tears," lives in an 8,500-square-foot, Victorian-style home overlooking the ocean and harbor in Newport Beach. Koontz said he has always worked at home and thinks it would be impractical to work anywhere else because of the research and reference books he would have to take with him.

Because he spends so much time in his home office and because it helps him work, Koontz wanted to create a serene atmosphere. Furnishings in his office include 18th- and 19th-Century French furniture, with J. Robert Scott upholstery, Sung Dynasty porcelains and Oriental antiquities.

He has also filled the office with the products of his writing efforts. The U.S. and internationally published editions of his books fill shelves and framed book jackets are on display. "I have every edition and every language (31) of every title published," Koontz said, "and I have a framer who does clever frames for the covers of my books."

Koontz, who last year signed a reported $18 million to $20 million deal for his next three books, works at a big U-shaped work area at a custom Monteverdi/Young desk.

"I also have an upholstered sofa on which I've always hoped to lie down and think about ideas," he said, "but I've never laid on it in five years."

Fagan decorated his home office with original drawings by other cartoonists as sources of inspiration when working on his "Drabble" comic strip.

On the walls of his office are original drawings of "Beetle Bailey," "Family Circus," "Peanuts" and other familiar comic strips. "It's something cartoonists do when they get together," Fagan said. "They exchange original cartoons."

Fagan works at a drawing table in one-third of the three-car garage his brother-in-law converted into an office for him in the Fagans' Mission Viejo home. "My office is simple," he said, "no electronics; but there's lots of bookshelves, lots of reference material."

(The office is in the garage because it was the only place left for an office, says Fagan, pointing out that it's a four-bedroom house and he and his wife have three children.)

"Drabble" first appeared in 1979 when Fagan was a 22-year-old college student; it is now in approximately 200 papers nationwide. "It helps to look at how other cartoonists do their work," Fagan said of how he chose to decorate his office. "It's inspiring. I especially admire 'Peanuts.' I like the simplicity and how much can be done with a few lines."

Los Angeles Times Articles