A Rich Heritage
With the COVID-19 pandemic pushing millions to work from home over the past 18 months, it has brought about the end of the traditional office and changed our view of the workplace as we once knew it. Working from home has become the new normal for many Americans and professionals around the world. It has forced us to create workspaces that allow us to perform at our highest capacity, while also being surrounded by all the comforts of home. With this challenge, we are endeavoring to find that delicate balance between creating a space that expresses who we are professionally, without overlooking style and functionality, as our offices have become extensions of our homes. Jessica and Blake Rich, local business owners, have successfully achieved this balance and created a comfortable, masculine and practical office reminiscent of Mad Men, that seamlessly flows with the style of the rest of their beautiful home.
Blake Rich, owner of Heritage Home Health and Hospice, is in the business of providing home-based health care to East Texans. He specializes in offering restorative and end-of-life care. He has been busy doing this since he graduated from nursing school in 2007. The work done by Rich and his staff is considered front line, so, unless there was known exposure to COVID-19 or a staff member had COVID-like symptoms, work for his staff was full steam ahead. Blake stated, “We experienced our fair share of staff members going into quarantine, which has been a challenge in making sure we have enough feet on the ground to get the patients seen. We were guided by state and federal recommendations to help keep everyone as safe as possible.” Part of that effort meant allowing staff members to work from their homes for a time.
If Blake was going to be spending more time at home, Jessica, Blake’s wife, decided he needed an office to make the transition easier. Jessica has her own personal space or “ladies’ hangout” in their home she affectionately named her “pretty purple room.” She thought it was only fair to give Blake the same type of environment, which could also be used as a “guy hangout” or “man room.” So, Jessica brought in local designer, Lauren Callaway, to help her create the perfect space for Blake. Inspired by his vision for the room, Callaway stated, “We wanted the space to feel like a men’s lounge rather than ‘an office.’ The cool leather chairs and the masculine vibe make it a space for Blake to work, as well as entertain his friends.” Callaway’s goal was to give Blake a space that also reflected his style, which she brilliantly did by mixing antique furniture pieces bought from the previous homeowners, fun and quirky accessories like a scarf clad deer, nice coffee table books and a beautiful set of crystal whisky glasses that were a gift from Blake’s parents. These choices, when mixed perfectly with beautiful art, a luxurious rug and the perfect paint color, brought it all together. “My goal is to make my clients happy and comfortable in their own space.” Callaway added, “I love to gain a sense of their style and push them a little out of their comfort zone. The end result is always amazing!”
Most of the art and furniture were purchased from The Merchant House, which is one of Texarkana’s great locally owned businesses run by owner, Bryan Callaway. There is also a stunning original abstract painting by former Texarkana resident, Kathi Couch, with subtle gold and purple hues of color that are conducive to the masculine feel of the room. Jessica added her own personal touch by creating her very own fun art piece for Blake. “My favorite is the one the boys and I created for him for Father’s Day. It is a silly picture where you add in faces. It is an old-school head shot of both Blake and our bulldog, Taz, in classic sweaters. Anything to get a laugh or smile from Blake was the goal here, and we achieved our mission!”
Right beyond this room and around the corner sits a beautiful oak, floor-to-ceiling bookcase complete with a rolling ladder and well stocked with books of every genre. If a person is in the mood to make discoveries about art, brush up on their history or to learn a foreign language, this library has the books to answer all their questions. There is even a collection of the “For Dummies” series left by the previous owners. It’s the perfect complement to this special and eclectic office.
Blake uses the space now for private business meetings, a place to go for peace and quiet and to plan for the week ahead. He enjoys a more collaborative approach to leadership and his home office supports this perfectly. “What I like most about my home office is the open seating arrangement. For work or family conversations, it is nice not to be confined behind a desk. I believe a conversation area like the one in my office is much more conducive to good ideas and openness. I also appreciate the masculine touches our decorator, Lauren Callaway, provided which really made the space a cool place to just hang out.”
Recently, life has begun to return to a more normal state. The staff have all made their way back to the office and are glad to get back to a more traditional version of day-to-day work. “I like any opportunity to hang out with my family, so being at home is always nice,” Rich said. “However, my family will agree that I like the daily grind at my office. Being visible and working hand to hand with my team is how I like to run things. It is good to see everyone coming back to the office and life getting back to normal, for now.”