The Only Thing Better Than This Office’s Wallpapered Ceiling Is the Wavy Window Trim
It’s like being up in a tree canopy.
Published Mar 10, 2022 1:50 AM
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Interior designers usually welcome tall ceilings—anything above the 9-foot mark—with open arms. But as Lisa le Duc, a U.K.-born designer now living in California, recently learned while revamping a home office, there is such a thing as too much airiness. “I wanted to bring the height of the space down to eye level,” le Duc explains of her decision to swath the room’s pitched ceiling in a large-scale, forest-inspired wallpaper from British brand Mini Moderns. “I put it there deliberately to enclose the space.”
The result is an office that feels more like a treehouse, one high up in a canopy of Douglas fir, than a place to draft emails and take important Zoom calls. “There are tree branches outside that come down over the windows, and beyond that is a reserve, so all you see is green,” says le Duc. Ahead, the designer keeps the visual trickery going with unique trim work, oversize lighting, and more.
A Worthy Wood
While two walls are lined with windows, raw, unstained plywood cabinets cover the rest, offering a mix of both closed storage and open shelving. Though a custom addition, the units were a relatively inexpensive route compared to traditional oak millwork. “It all depends on the grade of plywood you use,” notes le Duc. A-grade plywood would be on the pricier side because it’s smooth and can be easily painted, while D-grade has more visible flaws and knots. Going with bespoke cupboards allowed the designer to carve out a section of slanted ledges for displaying good-looking design books. “I don’t want to just see spines,” she says. “It’s just really engaging.”
A Ceiling-to-Floor Illusion
After tearing out the old, dingy carpeting in the office (in its past life, the space was a bedroom), le Duc pondered putting down laminate tile. But then she scrapped the idea for a much simpler solution: large plywood sheets, sealed in between the seams to create the appearance of a solid floor. The surface was then painted the same taupe-gray color of the wallpaper’s background in a high sheen so it nearly looks like polished concrete.
A Lightbulb Moment
Courtesy of Lisa le Duc
Unless you’re a photographer working in a darkroom, good lighting is essential for any 9-to-5 job. In lieu of a lamp that would ultimately soak up precious desk space, le Duc went with a wall-mounted Muller Van Severen fixture that features an exaggerated arched neck so the light emitting from the opaque glass shade is directed over the work zone.
A Swivel Chair That Means Business
Keeping the theme of European-designed furniture going, le Duc sourced a vintage Arne Jacobsen piece (it’s the Series 7 office chair from the early 1960s) through Almond and Company in San Francisco. The worktop is a custom wood piece joined to basic white IKEA table legs.
A Fine Line
While scrolling through Instagram recently, le Duc picked up on a theme: scalloped edges. “It was on lampshades, napkins, paint details, furniture,” she says. “I just loved it.” So the designer custom-fabricated a wavy banding to go around the window frames. The trim was first digitally designed and then cut using a Sharper Tools CNC router out of the same plywood used for the cabinets.
The detailing not only helps combat all of the boxy elements in the space, but it serves as a gentle divider between the graphic wallpaper and the soft off-white walls. “Because it sticks out around 6 inches, it also creates a nice shell, so you don’t see where the blinds roll up,” she points out. Up on the perch, a black Vitra bird figure keeps a watchful eye over the lush dwelling.