Carving Out a Beautiful Home Office Space in Tribeca
May 22, 2017
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While New York City is notorious for teeny tiny apartments, Mary Orton of Memorandum is living large in her Tribeca digs and with the help of Joss & Main her new home office is a study in all things eclectic and chic. Tour her pretty, pretty space captured by Nicole Gerulat and get the details on her fashion infused inspiration with a fun q & a with Joss and Main below!

Walk us through your new space. What do you love most?

From a design perspective, the space is quite eclectic, which I love. It's a mélange of masculine, feminine, mid-century modern, art deco, transitional, traditional and even some industrial pieces, with lots of really personal touches as well. I think the balance that is created when pairing competing styles (masculine and feminine, old and new, delicate and bold) makes for a very interesting space, and really gets my creative juices flowing. In both color and design, it's a true extension of my personal style, so I feel very at home in the room. Sprinkling the office with so many things that I love—whether it’s a Richard Avedon photograph of Katharine Hepburn, my favorite Dickens novels, a collection of my favorite Santiago Calatrava masterpieces or the beautiful masks that my husband and I brought back from our honeymoon travels in South Africa— it makes for a true sanctuary where I can really focus and get things done.
What was your design strategy? Where did you begin?

I think the "where to begin" question is always the most daunting for people, so before solidifying any specific plan for the room, I always think it’s best to find two or three pieces that you absolutely LOVE. They can be as small and random as a brightly colored shoebox or as large and imposing as a cool dresser—anything that you find beautiful and exciting. In my case, I fell in love with this burlwood dining table and oriental rug. Typically, neither would be ideal selections for this office space because the room is too large for the small 5’x8’ rug and the space needed a desk not a dining table! However, by starting with pieces that really inspired me, I was able to get creative. I came up with the idea to layer a larger area rug under the small oriental rug, which worked out beautifully because the it really underscores the central desk area as the room's focal point. For the dining table, I realized that taking out the extension leaf made it just the perfect oversized desk I was looking for—an area where I can really spread out and be productive. Since the table of course didn’t have any desk drawers, I found a nightstand that fits perfectly beneath the table where I can store pens, extra cords and office supplies.

Bottom line—once you have a few pieces that you're really excited about, you can fill in the rest of the space around them and the room will really start to come alive and take shape.
Was there anything you absolutely didn’t want?

I wanted the space to be a true reflection of my personal style, and didn't want it to feel "cookie cutter" in any way. The room is quite masculine, with lots of touches of femininity, but I didn't want anything "girly." And, as you can see, I really love color! I definitely didn’t go for the stark look.

It’s clear you have a knack for fashion. How does your personal style translate to the design of your home?

I wanted the office to be somewhat consistent with the decor in the rest of our home, but I also really wanted it to remain a singular, creative space. In the end, I think it is certainly aligned with my personal style which I would describe as a mix of classic and polished with a dash of edge and quirk.
What’s the key to creating a functional, inspiring office space?

Most days, you will find me running from meeting to meeting—speaking with investors and potential collaborators—or having conference calls and team meetings at our Trove offices in SoHo—the hustle is real! But since the work of an entrepreneur is far beyond typical 9-to-5 hours, it’s critical to have a dedicated space at home where I can continue to work. Whether I’m working late into the night or weekend, I designed it to especially to keep my energy up and creative juices flowing, which is why you see pops of color throughout. I definitely did not want the space to feel too retiring. For instance, take the desk: while I was inspired by the striking burlwood and the desk’s sleek lines, I also really wanted something that was oversized where I could spread things out when working, so the small dining table made that dream a reality. Plus, it’s nice to sit down at something substantial that can accommodate my large computer monitor while still allowing for space to review mock-ups with our design team, work on our editorial calendar, write a thank you note, or place a coffee cup (mission critical for the long hours!).
On your blog, you stress the importance of dressing appropriately for your work environment. What is your ideal work outfit?

It varies widely across industry, geography and roles, but for me personally, I'm a blazer fanatic, so my “ ideal” or go-to work outfit often involves a classic blazer and wide leg trousers. I also have more midi dresses than I’d like to admit, and there’s nothing easier or more comfortable than throwing on a classic midi for a long day at the office.
Pulling together a room—easier or more challenging than pulling together a professional wardrobe?

I'm an interior design junkie, so I absolutely love both! However, I think there’s a bit more pressure when designing a room, because unlike your outfit, you can’t just change the whole thing tomorrow! But, I strongly believe that form and function can seamlessly co-exist, whether you’re looking for great workwear pieces, or decorating your home. Find pieces that you find inspiring and exciting, and find creative ways to make them work for you. Especially when it comes to creating your own unique space, as evidenced by this room, I’m all for throwing convention out the door!
New York apartments are notoriously tiny. What are your tips for making the most of limited square footage?

Again, I think it’s all about thinking creatively with the space you have. For instance, due to the fact that I also run style blog Memorandum, I have an inordinate amount of clothing and accessories coming in and out of the apartment. The existing closet space in our home simply wasn’t adequate so to remedy this, I made one wall of my office this sort of exposed closet area where we mounted these wonderful industrial display units to create additional hanging space and storage. So, aside from trying to be the best possible Marie Kondo you can be in simplifying the amount of “ stuff” you need in your home, there are so many amazing storage solutions out there that can maximize space in every nook and cranny of your apartment. You just have to think outside the (small NYC) box.
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