Melissa Riche and her husband took a suburban garage and it’s adjoining workshop and turned them into comfortable home office. I talked to her about what goes into setting up a command centre for her businesses.
What kind of work do you do and how long have you worked from home? I’ve been a PR person, either freelance or working for a company, since I was 21. My first bout of working from home was during the recession in the early 90s when I lost my job. I ended up getting lots of freelance work and stayed freelance for three years, then went to work for a PR agency for a bit of job security while I supported my husband through a mid-life college degree.
I went back to freelancing in 1996, and I’ve worked from my home ever since. Home has variously been: London, southern Spain, Santa Monica, New York, and now Mar Vista in Los Angeles.
Last year I set up a home staging and interiors styling business. I’m also involved in developing a TV show with a former PR client who has done a lot of TV already, and a producer/director friend of mine. I like to stay busy!
What are the advantages of doing all this work from home? It gives me flexibility and freedom to do what I want when I want. I can work early in the morning or late in the evening. I don’t get constant interruptions from other people, I control my own noise level – I can play music if I want, and I don’t have to listen to other people’s chatter! I can wear what I want and I can bring my dog to work! I can eat lunch at home and save lots of money. I don’t have to take time traveling to work, sitting in rush hour traffic I don’t pay rent, and I get to deduct some of the expenses of working from home.
You bought your current house three years ago. What were you looking for in a home office? We wanted a space we could convert. This house fit the bill perfectly. At the end of the yard was a permitted workshop / double garage. The garage is still there, with an entrance from the office space.
The workshop needed to be renovated. How did you do that? We wanted to bring in more light and ventilation and also reconfigure the space so that we had enough room for me, but also for my husband as well. He works full-time in visual production for a company in Venice but still uses this office sometimes. My husband and I created a plan on a computer program called Home Design Studio.
We added a skylight over my husband’s seating area, replaced the door with a glass door, and two sidelights for extra ventilation, put in a window on the wall where my desk would be. We installed recessed lighting, put in ceiling fans, tiled the floors with 18” square textured ceramic tiles. Finally we painted the walls pale green.
What would you do differently? We should have put in a bigger window over my desk. We hummed and hah-ed about it for a while, and settled on a smaller window because we have light coming in from the door. But when I’m sitting at my desk I don’t see as much of the yard as I would like. The skylight should probably have gone in somewhere else as uur neighbors have a messy pepper tree and when the skylight is open it drops dust through the screen.
What do like most about the space? It works really well. We have enough space for us to both work at the same time if we need to (although my husband is only in here at the weekends, mostly). I love the light, I love the way it looks from the house, I love the paint color we chose (it’s very soothing), and I love the floor tiles we chose.