For Cox, the studio/office addition is a dream come true, the final chapter, she says, "in a story of evolving, on-going renovations of a 1977 tri-level home situated on a tranquil lake." The addition was needed to provide for more work and storage space, space to present design ideas to clients, room for another decorator and an administrative assistant, and easy access in transporting samples—all while maintaining the privacy of the home environment, Cox explains.
The transition from home to office is made dramatically through the use of a dual-purpose bookcase. On the home's side, the bookcase holds numerous travel books and is an indistinguishable part of the wall blending perfectly with the family room design. But those privy to its secret can open a latch hidden behind books and swing the bookcase away to reveal a doorway to the studio. "It was designed using piano hinges and a hidden wheel to carry the door's weight to prevent sagging," Cox says. On the studio side the door is treated with the same wall covering as the four- by six-foot foyer which it is a part.
The upper level of the addition is Cox's design studio. It is at street-level with a separate outside entrance and access to the home's garage, making the loading and unloading of sample books that much easier. Cox and her assistant each have her own workspace on this level, but are in close proximity.
One of Cox's goals was to use furniture from her former office in the new space. These pieces included two cherry desks and lateral file cabinets and an antique pine drafting table painted a warm red-brown. Two cushioned wicker chairs were added and covered in cotton chenille from Greeff Fabrics' Old Silk Road collection.
On the floor, 16- by 16-inch rustic Italian tile in gradations of soft, rustic red tones are set at an angle to make the room appear larger. An Oriental vegetable-dyed area rug from Karastan is set at the same angle under a round table.
"The entire lower level became storage area," Cox says. "I designed shelving space for sample books and accessories as well as a corner area for making silk and dried floral arrangements." This level also includes a small bathroom, stainless steel bar sink and under-counter refrigerator. The walls are painted a brownish brick red that are complemented with Greeff wall covering and border in curry color.
To move people and samples from one level to the other, a space-saving spiral staircase was included along with an old-fashioned dumbwaiter. "The architect's plan for an electrical pulley system was discarded in favor of a manual one so that I could build upper body strength with the exercise," Cox says. The stairs and lower level floor were covered with a sisal texture carpet in a chamois yellow color.
"In accessorizing I surrounded myself with many interesting antiques and traditional and contemporary accents for an eclectic look," Cox says. "Opting for a comfortable living room feel, we shunned the conventional office style," she adds.
Trompe l'oeil scarves painted by a local artist highlight the studio's palladium windows, which provide views of the lake. To handle a western exposure and strong afternoon sunshine, Hunter Douglas Silhouette window shadings with PowerRise were selected.
A stained glass window found in an old barn hangs before the window and catches the sun's rays. Below, on cherry lateral files, a combination lamp and water fountain features a copper base containing small stones and fossils collected over the years. A ginger jar Cox received as a wedding present more than 25 years ago is placed nearby. A bookcase displays an Oriental rice basket, a collection of finials and a large clay plate. An old feed container sitting on the floor now holds wallpaper rolls.
Other artistic features include a contemporary design tree made by a local artist of hammered pewter hanging on a wall next to her assistant's corner desk, and on one of the desk shelves is a polar bear purchased from a Canadian artist. An old clay pot and a collection of red and white pottery adorn another bookshelf. Over the dumbwaiter is an iron shelf with a collection of old and new green bottles and a clay vase. Beneath is a metal sculpture of women in various colored clothing holding hands.
The building and designing of her new home studio and office took eight months to complete. For Cox, it was well worth the wait, taking her office out of her home has been "excellent!" she says. Although it takes only a few steps to go from home to studio, when the bookcase door closes behind her, Cox makes the mental transition from personal to business attitude. "It definitely puts me in studio/office mode," Cox says.