Four years ago, my family moved to Waco so that my husband could pursue his Ph.D. at Baylor. We always knew that Waco would be home for a season, and now, that season is ending. He’s accepted an awesome position at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and that’s where our family (and Lesley Myrick Art + Design) is headed next. In fact, by the time you’re reading this, I’ll already be on the road driving cross-country with two young kids. Send wine. Please.
While we’re looking forward to the next chapter in our lives, this is naturally a bittersweet goodbye. Waco will always be the place where my son, Ford, really blossomed from a toddler into a pre-K student at Mountainview Elementary and where our daughter, Hasley, was born at Hillcrest. (I may be Canadian, but I gave y’all a Texan! You’re welcome.)
The last few years have also been a huge experience in growth for me as a designer. Living and designing in Waco has opened my eyes to different styles, ideas and — to an extent — culture, and it’s admittedly shifted my own preferences a little too. Four years may not seem like a very long time, but I’m sure it will impact my work for years to come. So as a final send-off, I’d like to share five things I’ve learned about design from living and working in Waco.
For starters, shiplap is actually pretty cool. If you’d asked me what I thought about shiplap five years ago, I probably would have responded with little more than a disbelieving side-eye, but you could say I’ve come around since then. Just like all the other materials that I love, it’s a way to add texture and visual interest, plus it’s a super easy way to incorporate a rustic touch without doing much else. Just don’t overdo it, people! As an accent in your bathroom or kitchen, it’s charming and maybe even a little unexpected. But you need to be honest with yourself — nobody believes your home built in 2015 actually had shiplap walls.
Another distinctly Wacoan design feature that I’ve come to truly embrace is ceiling beams. It’s just not a look I appreciated or even thought about much before living in Texas, but I almost have to kick myself for not seeing it sooner. Beautiful wood beams can really jazz up a plain ceiling, giving a boring room a totally new vibe, which is kind of what I’m all about. And it doesn’t have to be all farmhouse, either. Ceiling beams can just as easily work with a rustic Mediterranean look or a more modern eclectic bohemian design. You win, Waco. Nice job on the ceiling beams.
The thing that might have surprised me the most, though, was realizing that Downtown Waco is bursting with design inspiration. To be honest, before we made the move down here, I was a little worried about what the design scene was going to be like. Outside of Waco, this city is known for one monolithic style (you know the one), and I was kind of skeptical that I would be able to turn to local sources for new ideas and innovative resources. Instead, Waco greeted me with a gold mine of creativity. Murals, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and breweries — so much new energy and inspiration right here in town. While I’m always happy to be proven wrong and learn something new, this instance was more than just a learning experience — it was what made me realize that Waco could be something more to me than just a place to live.
But as much as I’ve come to embrace Waco, it seems like we’ll always have our differences. For one thing, nobody seems to like matte paint finishes except for me! I can’t even tell you the lengths I had to go to in order to get some matte navy paint for my master bedroom walls. I got so much pushback from the paint store as they insisted that what I really wanted was eggshell or satin. There has to be someone else in Waco who likes flat walls, right? Or is a slight sheen just what all Wacoans dig?
And despite my best efforts, Waco isn’t quite ready to let go of beige. While there are a few outliers like me with a passion for color and pattern, for whatever reason, the majority of Wacoans still embrace beige walls.
Oh, well. I tried.
Waco will always hold a piece of my heart, and I don’t think that this is a chapter that will ever fully close. But just as my time here was unexpectedly enlightening, I’m sure the next pages hold even more to learn from, and I can’t wait. Atlanta, get ready for me! I’m coming at ya, paintbrushes blazing.