Wardrobe Styling by Anna Su Make-up by Danielle Walch Design by Brit Ashcraft
Above: Custom Cabinet Doors, Reform; Oh Joy! Pinwheel Tile, Cle Tile; Prep/Bar Faucet $881, Newport Brass. Right: Orion Wallpaper, Calico; Verona Sconce, Cedar and Moss.
Above: Femme Mural Wallpaper, Drop It Modern; Abate Slatted Mirror, Anthropologie; Wildwood Double Articulated Sconce, Cedar and Moss; Francesca Nightstand, Lulu & Georgia; Martinique Barrel Armchair by ModShop, Wayfair; Spot Shag Cushion, Castle and Things. Left, from top: Glass Tile, Fireclay; Noon Print by Chris Fritton and James Lewis Tucker, The Aesthetic Union; Penthouse Paint, Clare; Harvest Tile, Fireclay; Basis Cabinet Doors, Reform.
Above: Shoreclub Upholstered Platform Bed by ModShop, Wayfair; Throw Blanket, Lawson Fenning; Lumbar Pillow, Anthropologie; Ridge Sconce, Cedar and Moss; Framed Photograph, Jimmy Marble; Tied Together Sculpture, Katie Gong; Deep Dive Paint, Clare.
Above, from left: Glass Tile (on wall) and Fallow Tile (on floor) Fireclay; Needville Mirror by Greyleigh, Wayfair; Verona Sconce, Cedar and Moss; Lavatory Faucet, Newport Brass; Cattails Print by Maggie Stephenson, Society 6; Basis Cabinet Doors, Reform.
Above: Grier Sputnik Chandelier by Brayden Studio, Wayfair; Table and Dining Chairs, Interior Define; Morning Windows 6 by Jacques Brun, Tappan Collective.
Above: Charly Sleeper Sofas and Tegan Accent Chairs, Interior Define; Vintage Coffee Table, Sunbeam Vintage.
Top left: Terrazzo Floor Tiles, Concrete Collaborative; Chelsea Cabinet Fronts and Hardware by Christina Meyer Bengtsson, Reform; Pearl Sconce, Cedar and Moss; Custom Wall Shelving, Amuneal; Always Pan, Our Place; On Cho: Jumpsuit, Atelier Delphine; Shoes, M.Gemi. Above: On Cho: Hibiscus Dress, Damaris Bailey; Shoes, M.Gemi. Left: Sonali Dining Table, Anthropologie; Dining Chairs, Interior Define; La Palma Wallpaper by Catherine Martin by Mokum, James Dunlop Textiles.
of her business, Joy Cho was constantly on the move. The Oh Joy! founder and creative director’s headquarters started out in the living room of the Los Angeles apartment she shared with her husband, Bob, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. At some point she shifted operations to the dining space, where she could spread out, before switching to a quieter spare bedroom. As her company evolved from a graphic design studio into a lifestyle brand that has partnered with the likes of Target, Keds, and Band-Aid, she eventually set up her growing team in a less-cramped remote office. But six years ago, when the pair purchased a plot of land in the hills, she decided it was time to go back to her work-from-home roots.
“After being home most of 2020 during the pandemic, I realized how much more flexible I really could be.”
Fast-forward to today: An abundance of closets and a credenza that doubles as a filing cabinet smooth the transition from shared workplace to getaway and back. Instead of snacks and cereal, the pantry is stocked with craft supplies (scissors, glue—the essentials) and Pantone chip books. Ultimately, she says, a creative space needs to be inspirational. “After being home most of 2020 during the pandemic, I realized how much more flexible I really could be,” says Cho. “I didn’t always need a standard desk.” A tropical-wallpapered breakfast nook and tiled laundry room aren’t typical WFH must-haves, but neither is her 9-to-5.
Terrazzo-topped stair treads and a custom brass handrail lead visitors from the ground-level entrance upstairs to the living space–slash–creative studio. Cho and her team frequently use the area for photo shoots, and she hopes to host freelancers and other self-employed friends there one day, too. “When we eventually can all be together again,” she notes.
While a departure from her go-to rainbow brights (see: her luggage collection for Calpak), painting the beam that connects the two floors in a forest green shade was another decision made with longevity in mind. Unlike an easily updatable feature such as a front door, the metal pole isn't something she feels like upgrading again. Larger-than-life windows and sloped walls are Cho’s nod to modern Danish architecture. Cleo Murnane took advantage of all the glass and installed light-detecting sensors that will turn off the overhead fixtures during the day to spare the couple’s energy bill. Cho’s best budget save, however, came in the form of IKEA kitchen cabinets with a semi-custom twist. She worked with Copenhagen-based firm Reform to swap out the standard doors for a trio of brass, mauve, and blue panels from its Chelsea by Christina Meyer Bengtsson collection. The dusty shades are neutral by nature; it’s the combination that makes the space stand out against the simple white backsplash, a happy understudy to the cupboards. “Not everything has to be singing and dancing all the time,” says Cleo. They even disguise the freezer, which is stocked with ice cream and other cold sweets for when her kids host slumber parties. “They don’t come over here too often, so they see it almost like a vacation spot,” says Cho, laughing.
“It’s the things that will be a hassle to change in five years that are worth investing in.”
While spread out at the dining table upstairs (it functions as an extra-long shared desk), Cho and her staff can admire the tree-dotted vista outside or the Mokum La Palma print that earmarks the breakfast—er, lunch—nook. “If I could put wallpaper on every wall, I would,” says Cho. (Case in point: In the larger of the two bedrooms, abstract faces cover all four walls.) Picking up on the emerald tones in the illustration and on the nearby beam, Cleo swathed the tufted bench in a commercial-grade vinyl upholstery (the designer used the fabric in previous restaurant projects) and continued the soft curvature of the cushion around the base of the built-in with oakwood dowels that look anything but basic.
The same can be said of the 4-by-4 glass tiles in the bathrooms. In the space connected to the moody blue bedroom, Cleo arranged three shades in graphic stripes—an ode to Josef Albers’s iconic paintings. The same squares also make an appearance in the other shower, this time in six different pastel hues. “Joy loves nearly every color except brown,” says Cleo, laughing. Cho handed the tiler a detailed road map to follow during the installation (she compares it to color-by-numbers) so the layout would look random. “It’s perfectly imperfect,” she says. Who said a home office has to be all work and no play?
Joy Cho—graphic designer, author, and founder of the eponymous lifestyle brand Oh Joy!—has the ultimate WFH setup: an A-frame creative studio–slash–guest quarters that’s a stone’s throw from home.
Portraits by Yoshihiro Makino Interiors by Bethany Nauert Words by Lydia Geisel Styling by Scott Horne
the property was more or less a giant excavation site, all the materials had to be lifted off a flatbed truck via crane. “It was probably the most nerve-racking experience of my life,” Cho recalls of breaking ground on the 2,400-square-foot studio back in 2017—this was their first time building something from nothing, and there was no going back.
More than ever, as her two daughters get older (Ruby, 9, is in third grade; Coco, 6, is in kindergarten), she wants to make every minute count. “I used to come home and not feel like I had time to prep dinner,” says Cho. So next to the forever house the couple designed from scratch, she built a structure that is part guest quarters, part Oh Joy! studio. “My commute is super-short,” she says, laughing. Now evenings with her family aren’t a rush—she can put the oven on preheat while wrapping up important emails. “There’s something very freeing about it,” she notes.
Her contractor, Boswell Construction, as well as architect McShane Murnane and designer Cleo Murnane, both of Project M Plus, were in charge of the two-story A-frame’s earthquake-proof steel bones. Because
The wall-to-wall windows, designed by McShane Murnane, inspired the living room’s furniture palette. “The colors truly reflect what a sunrise or sunset looks like,” says Cho.
A subtle homage to Cho’s Pennsylvania roots, the brass shelving is by Philly-based fabricator Amuneal. “Always mix heights, textures, shapes, and colors,” she says of styling the hardworking pieces on lower shelves; they act as both everyday dishes and photo shoot props.
them—both sets are long-standing East Coasters—the ground level was designed with them in mind: There are two bedrooms with private bathrooms (a major upgrade from a pull-out couch). “They can hang out with us when we have family time, but they can also retreat, and I think that’s important for everybody’s mindset,” she says.
A guest book sits out front and center for people who want to jot down their impressions or mark their stay with a doodle. Kicking it off is a note from her husband’s friend, who recalled first meeting Cho when she had just started her business. “It’s meaningful to
have these memories of people who are important to you,” she says. In the kitchen the same terrazzo was a practical choice for the floors. It’s easy to mop and will last forever. “Furniture and decor can be replaced,” says Cho. “It’s the things that will be a hassle to change in five years that are worth investing in.”
The building is just as much office as it is a retreat for out-of-town relatives on extended visits. Cho has her fingers crossed that both her and her husband’s parents will make the move from Philadelphia and retire there. Although they’re still in the process of convincing
A little extra floor space goes a long way: Floating on the wall, the Reform bathroom vanity creates the illusion of additional square footage.
Pearl Sconce, Cedar & Moss ($369)
Charly Sofa, Interior Define ($1,695)
Always Pan, Our Place ($145)
Art by Cho’s friends, photographers Jesse and Jimmy Marble, hangs alongside a bentwood sculpture by Katie Gong (opposite), breaking up the squareness of the high headboard.
In the laundry room, the upper cabinets are slightly staggered, in case Cho ever wants to hang a drying rack over the sink, while the backsplash, covered in the hex Pinwheel tiles Cho designed in collaboration with Clé, helps protect the walls from water damage.
During the first eight years
A Philadelphia Story