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Mixing It Up: A Styling Story

How long have you been working from home? Are you an OG or are you new at this? What have you done, if anything, to diversify your surroundings? If you're like me, you've been staring at the same wall for the length of your quarantine. Studies have shown that your environment can influence your behavior and mood. And couldn't we all use a mood boost in some form right now?

Last week, I decided to mix it up. Instead of changing the orientation of my desk for the third time, I decided to change the scenery. I began by asking myself, what emotion do I want to evoke, how does that relate to my style, and what resources do I have? It should be said that my "office" is an extra seat at our dining table...

what's important to you?

What makes you happy? Maybe it's that antique that reminds you "this too shall pass" or maybe that modern sculpture that encourages you to create. I began with a search around the house. I gathered things that sparked happiness, were thought-provoking, or just simply pretty. I found a handful photos of my family, a painting I created that wasn't being displayed, books, objects, and ceramics. Keeping in mind that I could swap and rotate items at any time, I limited the photos to one large favorite (here's where I got sidetracked and started laying out a gallery wall in a more intimate area of the house...but that's another post). I knew I wanted an oversized piece of art so I centered everything around that. Books...ok, books are a nice filler but are not required for shelving space, so don't feel like you need to fill it up with them. I've collected many over the years but narrowed these down significantly by filtering size and color. If books are your jam, try stacking them both horizontally and vertically, with spines in and out (if out, add color to the profile of the pages with a marker, insanity! See: "get weird" section).

Consider the scale and proportion when selecting ceramics and objects. While many (most?) designers will tell you that these fundamental concepts transcend individual style, I say rules can be bent if it feels right to you. Mix up modern and vintage - diversify the look and connect with a unifying theme. For me, the only items with color were the books and a small but delicious piece of art (the work of Chad Kouri), all objects and ceramics are neutral. I wanted them to have contrast with the dark wood casework.

Last, play with asymmetry. Balance can be achieved in other ways, like through color and visual weight. Balance can be perceived through the eye of the beholder but should be thoughtful. Consider leaving some negative space. Just because there is a void, doesn't mean it must be filled.

"my space doesn't have good bones"

While flipping through the pages of the latest design magazine I often imagine myself lounging in a Parisian loft with insane ironwork, a bold stone fireplace, ubiquitous ornate molding, and a killer view. Until then, I'm working with what I've got. We have casework with adjustable shelves surrounded by a (nonworking) fireplace all positioned under a pair of stained glass windows...not a bad start. Given these details, I didn't want to paint the area or use anything that would negate the windows.

get weird

Do something out of the ordinary. Paint that wall, hang that art off-center, buy that swinging monkey print pillow. Warning: it should be mentioned that some of us continue to have coworkers (*cough* husbands) so you might consider other onlookers when making bold moves.

I just brought a guest chair into my "office" (read: dining room) that would normally make no sense. It gives me an opportunity to switch positions throughout the day and also provides a welcoming landing for my toddler to come visit.

Whether it's a small addition of color, a big bold credenza, or something in between, go for it. I adore my Harry Allen hand sculpture, it's just the right amount of weird for me (and my coworker).

the end

Step back and assess. Consider the final touch(es) - flowers are a great way to introduce color and scent. Walk away. Much like other tasks, you'll see it differently after a while. If you're able, adjust your lighting to highlight your masterpiece. Tweak. If it makes you feel good, you're done!

We're in tune with our surroundings more than ever. A simple decluttering of your space is a great start and will do wonders for your mental health and productivity. And let's be honest, you've scoped out the backgrounds of your colleagues' homes in those virtual meetings. Chances are they've done the same. In this new virtual era, adding a thoughtful backdrop is the new dress for success.

before and after


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