I started gardening next to my mom and grandmother, but I didn’t even know that horticulture or landscape design was a thing until I was in my mid-20s. Taking on this career has been a dream come true. I’ve carved out workspace in four different houses before finally getting this incredible office space.
As soon as we bought this acreage, we started work on the former lambing room/farm office/dog kennel that is now my beautiful studio. (You can read about our first steps in this blog post from three years ago.) Because we did the majority of the work ourselves, the process took almost two years and plenty of blood, sweat and tears. Both of our dads both helped so much throughout this process. From filling dumpsters during demo to building me a bargain, custom-sized worktable, our dads were an amazing gift to us.
One of my goals with designing this new space was to open it up by stealing a little height from the storage room above. Thanks to vintage (read: not OSHA-approved) scaffolding from Brian’s dad, we took out half the upper room and vaulted my ceiling. I love how lofty and open the room feels.
I love bright white, clean spaces – I feel calm and creative when I’m not surrounded by clutter. We used beadboard to add texture and I tell Brian all the time that I feel like I work surrounded by a pin-striped suit – which is good thing for me! I love all the lines. The room gets glorious south and west light, so plenty of days I don’t even need to turn on the overhead lights to work.
I thought through and drew out every space, using the same process I use for landscape design clients. Brian and I talked through all the things I use the office for: meeting with clients, presenting projects, drafting, research, business planning… and I wanted to be as flexible as I could. The same seating space where I pour over design books is used by clients during project reviews, and it’s also where my boys sit and read when I’m still working after school. The worktable is sized just right for my short self to work standing, and there is so. much. storage. I can have the room look serene and uncluttered while off-the-rack cabinets hold everything from measuring tools to thank-you cards. My flat file (a Craig’s List find from the NH DOT) keeps all projects organized.
I also wanted to bring in antique and meaningful pieces to give life to the space. I bought corbels from one of my favorite stores two years ago during demo – I had no idea then how I’d use them, but I knew they’d be perfect in here. The giant, vintage tobacco basket is a nod to my North Carolina roots, and I love the spindle legs on the little console table.
Here’s what we learned after tackling this giant project:
-Stay in your lane.
We had a mix of DIY and pro labor in here, and used both well. Brian’s trim work is so careful and perfect for the room- there are zero right angles in this old building, so having my precise husband cut all the trim pieces and put it all together meant I got exactly what I wanted. We hired out the drywall work, and that crew completed in 2 days what would have taken us 3 weeks – and did it better than we ever could. Brian tried hanging the door and screen, and after a frustrating fail we called in the experts.
-Be as efficient as you can afford.
Because we gutted the entire thing, we were able to extend the wall studs to fit thicker insulation in. This room is cozy and wrapped up tight – it’s warm in the winter and cool all summer. I have a little window A/C that I barely need to use, and the ceiling fan blows the warm air down in the winter. I would have LOVED to use a mini-split heat pump to heat and cool the workspace, but the ROI wasn’t worth it.
-Follow your budget.
We planned out space for a kitchenette and bathroom, stubbing in the plumbing and running all the electrical. But it just wasn’t in the initial budget to get it done, so that’s one of my goals for this year. There’s something truly satisfying about spending only what we budgeted and having a goal to work toward.
So there you have it! I love going to work every morning. Ushering clients into this bright, cheerful space makes me so proud. Come on over and have a cup of coffee with me!