Remember the days when people wanted their offices to look just like home . . . when soft lamp light, warm wood finishes and many green plants were an easy translation from living room to office?

Well, today's home owners are just beginning to learn from office planners to use furnishings that save space, time and cost -- furnishings that are flexible enough to meet changing needs.

The password for all of these is: mobility. Each component is mobile, on casters that roll easily on carpet as well as resilient floors, to meet changes. Movable files, for example, are one of the best new office products. The two-dawer variety is meant to take the place of the conventional desk pedestal for writing or typing surfaces.

In the home, it can be stored neatly under windows because most two-drawer files are only 27-inches high. Or, it can be put next to a chair, for closer reference.

Many models of mobile chairs have become so popular for dining, socializing, or work that they are even available in kiddies' sizes.

The most versatile office component, mobile walls, can be single panels on casters. A hinged series of panels on casters long enough can provide an almost room-like enclosure around a bed, seating or dining group.

The panels can screen one child from another in a shared room, separate work or study from a sitting area, or separate dining from sitting areas.

I worked on a living room for a young couple, both of whom had grown up in homes with conventional dining rooms. Their present home combined living-dining room. It was one long rectangle, not very large with no visible separation.

To meet their need for some definition of function, while not cramping the space, I proposed a movable storage wall. This three bookshelf unit, 6-feet tall, is available in many woodshops. You can fit them with spherical casters (the kind that move easily on carpet) and finish them in any way you choose. Just be sure you buy the kind with backs, so things don't fall out when moved.

I hinged the three units together so they could fold up neatly into one 3-foot module. When the room was used for parties, the entire shelf unit could be folded up and rolled back against the wall between the windows.

A long grab bar fastened to one unit made it easy to roll it back into its Z-shaped pattern as a separating wall between living and dining areas.

I painted the shelf units in gloss white, to match the pristine vertical blinds covering the windows and the bleached white sailcloth on the sofa and chairs. Natural rush seats on the bright green lacquered dining chairs contrast happily with the gray walls and carpet, giving a sense of continuity and spaciousness to these separated spaces. CAPTION:

Illustration, no caption, Sally A. Janin -- United Feature Syndicate Inc.