Home Work

By Lesley Myrick

Harmonizing opposing styles in a shared home office

I was that kid who went nuts for school supplies. One summer I had all my pens and colored pencils and binders purchased, packed neatly in my new backpack and ready to go for the first day of school. Did I mention it was only the middle of July? And in Canada, elementary school doesn’t start until after Labor Day.

Fast forward about 25 years and I still go bonkers for anything office-related. Even now, running my own business with no clear back-to-school season, I look for any excuse to purchase a crisp new notebook or restock my supply of black ultra-fine gel ink pens. (My favorite is the Uni-Ball Signo 0.38 millimeter from Japan. I am an international pen snob and proud of it.)

When I launched my own part-time business about a decade ago, any office space I could make do with at home had to suffice. Living in Toronto and then Los Angeles, I was tight on space and had a primary office at my full-time job elsewhere. During my side hustle years I worked on kitchen tables while traveling, on wobbly secondhand desks purchased through Craigslist, and, until the middle of last year, on a narrow desk pressed against one wall of the modest master bedroom in our 700-square-foot California apartment.

Our move to Waco marked not only a transition for my husband into a Ph.D. program and assistantship at Baylor but also the launch of my full-time interior design business. Gone are the days of hustling after hours at my kitchen table. Now I’ve got a local and virtual support staff of three; a team of vendors, contractors and other trades to manage; a sample library of fabric, carpet and trimmings to organize … you get the picture. As my business has evolved, so has the need for a Real Awesome Home Office.

But where to create this much-needed workspace? My husband, Nate, and I toyed with the idea of using our extra bedroom as an office, like many people do, but with both of our families living out of state, we often have house guests and want to accommodate them comfortably. Plus, everyone needs a room where they can stash crap, right?

We eventually chose to forgo a traditional dining room in favor of transforming the large, open space just off our living room into our shared home office. While we love entertaining and often have friends over for meals, a generous kitchen table meets our needs just fine. We couldn’t justify being stuffed to the gills and working in a wee little bedroom while a large, light-filled dining room sat underused.

Nate is a great sport when it comes to designing our home and essentially lets me loose to do my thing. Of course, I take his needs and taste into consideration. After more than five years of marriage and 11 years in the design industry, blending my creative ideas with the desires of others is a natural part of the process.

I knew I wanted to play with the dichotomy of our individual aesthetics — his industrial and rustic, mine offbeat and colorful — and create a space that acknowledged our individual preferences and harmonized them into something collectively awesome. Given the layout of the room, it made the most sense for my office, affectionately known as Lesley Myrick Art + Design Headquarters, to span the entirety of one wall, for Nate’s office to be situated on the opposite wall, and for a shared conference table to float in the middle of the room.

My half of the office features a sleek white desk integrated into a wall of white built-in bookshelves, an overscale chartreuse table lamp and lots of eclectic pattern mixing. Ikat, damask, and leopard print may sound like a bizarre blend, but trust me, it totally works. Nate’s half of the white-walled room is punctuated by a dark distressed desk, an industrial metal filing cabinet and, of course, Hector the deer, whom you may remember from last month’s column.

Light and dark. Patterns and solids. Sleek and rustic. Deer head and, well, I’m not sure what the counterpart to that is. But regardless, the juxtaposition is wonderful.

Opposing design styles don’t have to live in opposition. Great interiors are all about the mix, and my strength is curating eclectic elements and arranging them from a unique design perspective so the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a given that you and your significant other are not going to see eye to eye on every individual design choice. It’s about knowing your own unique, dynamic preferences and making them work together as a whole. And thankfully, Nate’s a pretty great partner to share an office with, even if he is the one responsible for the floating deer head that appears to be watching over my shoulder while I work.

If you’d like to see more of our shared home office, including the third — yes, third — desk in the space where our 2-year-old son hangs out, you can view them on my blog at lesleymyrick.com.

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