Our Work Should Have Meaning

Room & Board’s philosophies are spelled out in our Guiding Principles, the first of which is “Our work should have meaning.”  Yes, I need to earn a living, but how I choose to do that must matter to me on a deep level.  I love design and delight in helping customers create living spaces that are both beautiful and functional.  It’s fun and rewarding.  I always get a good feeling from helping customers find just the right sectional for their family room or a lamp for their nightstand. Still, every so often I will have a customer experience that makes me realize on a deeper level how truly meaningful our work can be.

A few months ago, I designed an entire first floor–formal living room, dining room, family room, breakfast nook, and study–for a family of five who live in a Maryland suburb of DC.  Matt and Ivy are busy surgeons who are raising young sons.  Ivy told me they had neither the time nor the inspiration to undertake the daunting task of designing and furnishing their new home, and she was leaving it all pretty much up to me.  For me, this was playtime!  I got to devise a color palate, select furniture, accessories, wall art, and rugs, and even helped her think through wall colors.  We made a few changes here and there, and in a, short time their place went from being a nearly empty house to a warm home.  When it was complete, Ivy invited me over to see the finished result–a treat, as we DAs don’t often get to see the finished product in person.  

As I wandered from room to room, it struck me: This is the home their kids will grow up in. These furnishings will live in their childhood memories. One day, the boys will remember that they did their homework at a sand-colored table in a room with a striped rug.  They will remember the antique French map on the wall and the big orange armchairs their parents sat in nearby.  They might remember the large walnut table in the dining room, the cushiony navy blue chairs, and the mod, black chandelier. I realized that this is what we do: help create the backdrop to our customers’ whole lives–and what could be more meaningful than that?