Making It Work

Jennifer Baron’s home workspace is practical and inspiring.

Photos by Laura Petrilla

Jennifer Baron’s workdays can be unpredictable: She balances writing and photography with professional crafting and producing her own music. But no matter how complicated her career gets, there is one constant: her creative workspace. 

Like a growing number of Pittsburghers, Baron does the majority of her work at home. In order to maximize productivity and creative inspiration, she turned the spacious Dormont home that she shares with husband Greg Langel into the perfect workspace.

Baron started by designating two primary work areas, based on the types of projects she does; one room is dedicated to crafting and music, and another is used for writing and managing her business. They’re located across the hall from one another—separate but nearby.

But she says homeowners can view every room as a potential creative space. She often leaves her writing room to spend an hour on her laptop at the dining room table, drawing inspiration from the cool blue walls and collections of dishware that line the room.

“I don’t like to get holed up in one space, and I think people can get inspiration by moving around,“ Baron says. “If you’re freelancing or even working part of the time from home,” you don’t want to feel trapped in one room, especially if it’s a small space.

Color and light

The couple’s house, built in 1929, contains two original stained-glass windows, allowing plenty of natural light in. She sees that as a vital component of an effective workspace. 

She also sees wall color as key. The previous owner of Baron’s house “had such a dark color palette—dark maroon, hunter green, army green and dark navy blue,” she says. Baron knew she needed cheerful, sun-drenched colors set off by crisp white, so she painted the walls various shades of yellow, Tiffany blue and salsa red.

There’s a common misconception that a workspace should have a subdued, serious design. But Baron says it can be wonderfully energizing to fill your work area with bold colors—no matter what sort of work you do. 

View and vantage point 

“Our house sits on one of the highest points in Allegheny County,” Baron says, “so when I look southwest toward Robinson, I can see the mountain ridge on a clear day.” 

Because she draws inspiration from these sweeping views of Pittsburgh’s natural beauty, Baron has opted to mainly work in rooms where the view is best. And the furniture in those spaces is positioned to take advantage of the view. 

Breathing room

Because she creates everything from holiday cards to T-shirts and fashion accessories, Baron’s craft room could easily overflow with supplies. But she finds it easier to focus on work in a room that isn’t too full. 

“My old house was much more cluttered,” she says. “I’ve learned to have space.”

Delicious details

The rooms of Baron’s house are home to an eclectic mix of vintage goods and starkly modern pieces. She’s a huge fan of juxtaposing old and new pieces in contrasting colors, textures and patterns. 

“With fashion, I love separates and mixing different types of accessories,” she explains. “It’s the same approach with the house, with collecting objects.”

Some are flea-market finds, but so many others “were either hand-me-downs from my grandmother or great-grandmother.”

Surrounding herself with these items never fails to bring a burst of creative inspiration.

“I get so much joy from being here,” Baron says, taking in her carefully curated home. “I often wonder if I’d be creating this music and these crafts without this work space.”