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Greetings from the home office

Jenna Lyons in her office, which is a shining beacon of under-decorated cool to which I can only aspire

Jenna Lyons in her office, which is a shining beacon of under-decorated cool to which I can only aspire

A photographer is coming to my house at noon today to shoot me in my  office here, and my fondest desire this weekend was to make it look even just passably cool. But in the end, you are either a girl who knows how to arrange things all nice, or you are a girl who lets things fall where they may, and I, alas, have always been the latter.  Plus, experience has taught me to be cautious of the overly staged:  when I was first married, I moved into a beautiful old brownstone in Brooklyn and hired a noted design bon vivant to decorate it. He did a great job, and I felt so fortunate to  live in rooms that were so beautifully composed. It was all completely my taste, but nothing I could ever had conjured myself, and it felt like such a cool trick that you could actually pay somebody to do that for you. Less cool, unfortunately, was actual life in the Brooklyn house: there was great hardship and unhappiness, and the marriage unraveled and we got divorced. The house was sold and I moved back to Manhattan. A few years later, I was paging through the bon vivant’s first coffee table book—he’d sent me a copy upon publication—when I happened upon a couple of pictures of my old place. I didn’t recognize those pictures as my home for a moment, and when it did register, something else hit me like a jolt. I realized that a spell had been lifted: never again would I envy the lives of people whose homes I saw in books or magazines, no matter how perfect they may appeared. Because mine looked pretty perfect in those pages too.

Screen shot 2013-02-18 at 12.18.07 AM

So considered from that angle,  maybe it’s better just to let people see me for the moderately organized, not entirely un-stylish woman—home-wise—that I am, right? Anyone?And it’s not like I didn’t make some tweaks.My friend Stephen came over Saturday night and pointed out—not incorrectly—that my mugs are hideous, and that since desks look nice and lived-in with a coffee mug on them,  I might do well to make an improvement. So I popped out to the Jonathan Adler on Greenwich Avenue for this little orange zebra number.

Screen shot 2013-02-18 at 12.21.03 AM

I also got this fun little glass at Adler to use as a pen cup. Much poppier than the old bamboo cup with pen explosion lining its bottom that I’ve been making do with for ages. The orange-on-orange wasn’t intentional, and at first it had me a bit concerned because I don’t like matchy, but there are enough (read: too many) other colors and textures happening on that desk for them to overpower much of anything.

Screen shot 2013-02-18 at 12.35.20 AM

Then! Because I’ve been waiting for a good excuse to do it anyway, I finally got myself a Jambox speaker.  It’s wireless! The cool kids are probably on to some other, way cooler and better speaker by now, but that’s just going to be perfectly OK by me.

Screen shot 2013-02-18 at 12.33.08 AM

What I didn’t buy—and it’s not high on  my upgrade list, but perhaps should be—is exactly the desk that Jenna Lyons has in the above picture. (Or at least I’m pretty sure it’s the same one—experts?) I’m a big believer in the big, open table as desk—once something’s in a drawer, I forget it exists. And my current desk is my former Heywood Wakefield dining room table, and it’s so rickety and ancient that if I put my printer on it, the whole thing shakes like a train’s coming through town.

 

 

 

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Posted on February 18th, 2013 25 Comments

25 Responses

  1. mauimermaid says:

    I think that it’s Jenna Lyons slouching nonchalantly whilst looking so kick ass that makes that home office look so enviable. When I look through the room, none of the pieces are that interesting and the arrangement is unremarkable – it’s all about her and she’s fabulous.

  2. Jamie says:

    Yep, that is Jenna Lyon’s Blu Dot Strut desk in Watermelon.

  3. Maggie says:

    Heartily concur that you need to work on your slouch. And your mismatch. Drape your dog about your shoulders in lieu of fur. This is not about pencil cups. All done!

  4. c.w. says:

    But what is the WHY your office is being photographed? NYTimes? Vogue? Martha Stewart? Dwell? Cosmo? Sports Illustrated Fashion Issue? etc.etc.etc.

  5. LK says:

    I am sorry about your struggles and I appreciate the reality check. I hate admitting it, but I still get caught in the “if only I had this room/wardrobe/fancy life” vortex.

  6. Lorimac says:

    Mauimermaid says, “I think that it’s Jenna Lyons slouching nonchalantly whilst looking so kick ass…” which seems true. BUT look at her feet in those shoes. While I totally embrace the ‘fashion over comfort’ theory, doesn’t she looked crammed into those pumps? The photo doesn’t work for me – her desk is a mess, she is relaxed and calm, so she should be wearing some sort of in-your-face-I-don’t-care type of footwear like Crocs or scuffies. I am hoping Kim matched her footwear’s attitude to her desk attitude in the photo shoot – maybe orange flats to match those new desk accessories!

  7. Caryn says:

    “once something’s in a drawer, I forget it exists”

    Oh god. This. SO MUCH.

    I was heading for ikea today to get a longer desk for precisely this reason.

    • Viajera says:

      Me too.

      When I really need to remember something, I tape it to the bathroom mirror. It never fails. But that’s for things like jury duty. Ya can’t put everything there.

  8. SueM says:

    Oooh, I hope “looking kick-ass” is not a prerequisite for office attire, especially at home office, since personally I save the Wonderwoman suit for outside. Your strength is your writing and lifestyle, so I hope we can see that reflected in the pics. No pressure.
    Interesting to me as well that you like a wide open desk, no drawers. I need organization around me to counteract the chaos in my work/brain.

  9. muranogirl says:

    While I do lust after a beautifully styled, organized room I am left suspect. I have done the best with our flat, but the fact that each day members of my teen daughter’s crew team come in for a quick snack after school and leave a mess for me afterwork including dining room chairs askew, potted orchids to the side and Greek yogurt on the kitchen counter. I have to smile and remind myself that life is happening in this house.
    All that aside, I look forward to the post and seeing more of “you”.

  10. AmyM says:

    I think I’m in the minority, but the first thing I thought when I saw this photo (not knowing who she was) was, Wow! She is trying WAY too hard.

  11. yunah says:

    -thanks for your thoughts on envy inducing homes, never ever thought of that angle, generous of you to share that,
    -the blu dot strut is a stunner – i’ve seen them on craigslist here in sf, always tempted,
    -not to be stalker like, but i would love to see your workspace!

  12. janet says:

    I know exactly what you mean about that perfect seeming facade. I had it once too. I’d opt for happy chaos and imperfection any day.

  13. Susan says:

    add me to the minority: the nonchalance looks WAY too studied. And who can think in tight silk pants and three-inch heels? really.

  14. Joanna aka Alexa (@alexa11221) says:

    My own home office consists of a pile of papers with a macbook on top and an Aeron chair off to the side so I’m no help. I have plenty of drawers and they are all full, perhaps I should explore this “no drawers” philosophy.

    Also if my house is a mess does that automatically mean my life is secretly perfect otherwise?

  15. Kate says:

    Isn’t that desk exactly the same (well longer!) as the end table you were thinking of in an earlier post?

  16. Shirim says:

    Love the home you are in!!

  17. Viajera says:

    Well. I’m not sure what your reaction will be, but someone going through a similar realization is … Oprah!!! Yes, she of the amazing and numerous houses. She is getting rid of things that look good but don’t feel good emotionally. It’s in the current issue. I really love her mag. Didn’t always watch the show, but I dig her. I do.

    Also, I love orange. I don’t know why but I do.

    I used to know a guy whose desk was a door propped up on two sawhorses. He was a very stylish person, and it forced him to be neat. (Though I doubt this works for everyone. Probably he was neat before he got rid of drawers.)

  18. Debra says:

    If my office looked like that I would be too busy trying to keep the casters on my chair from catching on the throw rug under the desk. Maybe that’s why she’s slouching – she’s exhausted from having to dig those heels into the rug every time she has to move her chair!

  19. Angeline says:

    Thanks for sharing the personal bit – I can relate to looking back and not recognizing what was your life. Hope the shoot was lovely!