“Order is the shape upon which beauty depends.”
— Pearl S. Buck, author of The Good Earth
Cleaned out and refreshed my office yesterday. Though wedding season is underway, spring has me wanting to spend all my hours frolicking outdoors, and I decided my work space needed a lift to entice me indoors and allow me some much needed focus. As well, the last several months have brought a lot of personal and professional change (our business is growing and we're expecting our first child, among other things), and I wanted a space that reflected my evolving perspective and growth. In addition to the usual dusting, vacuuming and organising, I turned to the internet for a little aesthetic direction. Here are the highlights of what I found.
In reviewing my collection of inspiration images, I noticed a personal affinity for
- warm neutrals
- industrial vintage
- height (the entire space is addressed, from floor to ceiling)
- contrast (particularly light and dark, but also textural contrast)
- and natural materials (especially wood, wicker and leather)
I've learned from experience that my office is a graveyard for houseplants (see foot note), so I rescued a huge silk Boston fern from storage. I arranged it atop a filing cabinet in a glass pedestal vase, which I lined with elephant grass to hide the stem. With its leaves grazing the ceiling, the fern brings a much appreciated element of natural sophistication and drama to my work space. Adding a carved wooden candlestick eased the visual transition from the fern to the filing cabinet, while a small woven basket rounded out the tableau. Still, my office needed just a touch more. The textures and connotations of fern, grass, wood and wicker certainly helped, but the room still wasn't as warm and inviting as I wanted it to be. What my office needed was a greater sense of the handmade.
“Balance is beautiful.”
— Miyoko Ohno, Japanese interior designer turned bridge designer
Since I really liked the colour and feel of the one candlestick, I brought in two more. Though they're all quite different stylistically, they're also all made of wood and massive, which unifies them. The first is from India, very tall, and carved with leaves (very Bohemian). The other two are comparatively short, but quite thick and turned wood; one is very Mid-Century and simple, while the other has a rustic Craftsman vibe to it. I grouped those two next to an amazing print created by my sister years ago. Their varied wood tones play off the deep oranges, reds and ambers in the print really nicely, and their forms read as sculpture in my mostly utilitarian space.
I also upgraded my small stuff storage. Pens, markers and thumbtacks found new homes within a selection of hand-thrown pottery. Their simple shapes, subtle textures and neutral colours are much more pleasing to my eye than straight-out-of-the-office-supply-store containers with "notice me!" printed labels, and so much can be said about the heft and tactility of clay vs. plastic. Now, all I have left is to finish repainting a lamp I picked up years ago, and put away my current (and much loved) classic Winnie the Pooh lamp for the nursery.
“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”
The old office, while functional, had diminished to little more than the sum of its most useful parts, the end result of a busy Christmas season and a new year filled with travel, baby, and business and personal development. My new office reflects the present me and my state of mind much more—my work space and head space are definitely more streamlined, more confident, and yes, even more artful. When I have a chance, I'll snap a few pictures to show you what I've accomplished. In the meantime, it's nose to the grindstone. These banquet tables won't lay out themselves!
Find more inspiration (with captions!) on my Pinterest board: My dream studio and workspace.
For more quotes like the ones in this blog and an intriguing look at the zen of organising, check out: The Home Office Organizer (I found "Moving Forward In Your Home Office" particularly useful).
foot note: Ah, the houseplant graveyard. It wasn't for lack of trying. Of the two windows in my office, one faces north and the other faces east, but the east-facing window is largely shaded by a towering elm tree in our backyard. I get a few hours of direct morning sunshine, and a fair a bit of indirect light, but not quite enough to sustain the large, leafy plants I quiver for.