I am so, so, sooooooo excited to share this latest project with all of you!! As the title suggests, this design project was one that commanded style that had to transcend trends and look just as good in 10 years as it does today...if not better. But more than that, it was a labor of love undertaken not only by me but by a group of women (and occasionally the men in their lives!) who are very dear to me for a cause we have all worked hard for in the last few years.
If you know me, then you know I've worked closely with the Junior League of Wilmington for seven years. Our League office is a humble space, as it should be, but it wasn't entirely functional. The president came to me this summer, while our membership was on summer break, and asked me if I would make the office a more functional meeting space and do so before our League year officially started at the end of August. She wanted a long table that could seat up to 20 people so that the board and League committees could actually meet at the office. Our office administrator also deserved more safety and security in the office as we had faced a few scary moments with wanderers in the last few months. And while we were in the process of making these updates, we decided we should go ahead and tone down the yellow walls.
The League's meeting room housed a table that was less than ideal for meetings. The butcher block table was high quality and in great shape but it was too wide and short- only eight people could sit at it at once so our gatherings resembled huddles more than proper board meetings. Our common room became an unused seating area. The settee and chairs were cute but they didn't coordinate with anything else in the space and, obviously, we had begun using the area for storage more than for seating. We also showcased lots of artwork generously donated by another local organization but it didn't really tell the story of our precious League, which was originally founded in the 1920s!
My main focus and the League's main concern was the meeting room...and the budget. We had very little to spend considering we needed enough furniture for two dining rooms, among other things. I wanted the entire office to feel familiar- like one of Wrightsville Beach's old family beach cottages. It needed to be inviting, light and classic while conveying to members and visitors alike the history of the Junior League. I chose Benjamin Moore's First Snowfall (ironic for a coastal inspired design scheme, right?) for the wall color, chairs and tables from Pier One and blackout drapes from Pottery Barn Kids to add height to this tiny room(on sale!). We also decided to repurpose the butcher block table and move it out to the common area, which meant donating all of the seating room furniture to another local non-profit. We did not budget any money for art and thank goodness we didn't! As the president and I cleaned out one of the League's storage rooms, we hit the JACKPOT!! The original sketch of the League's first cookbook cover, photos of the carriage house that used to serve as the League's office and countless plaques recognizing members and the organization for service were just a few of the treasures we found!
The office feels clean and bright and better than that- it's so functional now!!! Everything has its place and everyone can quickly see where that is. In fact, we held our first board meeting two weeks ago and were able to sit in the room with seating to spare! Our office administrator has been able to safely enter and exit the office without worry and she also has a space that is all her own. We even found Serena & Lily bistro chairs at a local consignment store for an amazing price. Talk about meant to be! We also have established proper storage for all of the boxes that used to sit in the common area. Now, we look forward to our visits to the office and I hope other visitors do too!
Personally, my favorite part of the whole office is seeing all of the photos and newspaper articles about events and members who came long before me. We learned about traditions we weren't aware of, saw photos of our friends' grandparents and felt so much more of a connection to this community. This office was entirely put together with sweat equity and I can't thank the volunteers who stepped up to the plate enough! Our small budget and big dreams brought us challenges at times- especially when the HVAC went out midway through!- but it also caused us to make thoughtful and smart decisions. Thank you so much to the League leaders for trusting me with this special project and I can't wait to see how this organization continues to evolve in the next few years!
As always, if you have any questions about this project (OR the Junior League!), please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.