For most, putting together a home office means jazzing up a spare bedroom or finished basement with some new furniture and a few shelves. For Maya Blue ceramics founder Megan Leihgeber, she needed a bit more. The artist decided to celebrate the launch of her handmade pottery brand by creating a separate, 160-square-foot backyard office-slash-studio at her Austin, Texas home.
“Running a ceramics business means being in the studio working all hours of the day, so I would be in the studio from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. most days,” Leihgeber remembers. “After spending years at different studios around town, I decided to build my own in my backyard, so it still feels like I'm at home.”
So she had never built a freestanding structure before? No problem. Before the backyard office project, the largest thing Leihgeber constructed was a workbench table used to store clay in her previous studio. The location was inside of a wood workshop, so she was inspired watching colleagues craft things day in and day out. “I ultimately convinced myself that if they could make things out of wood, so could I,” the artist says.
Before she ordered any materials or tools, Leihgeber spent about a month researching and teaching herself the process of constructing a building on Youtube. She used pre-drawn shed plans to inform the floor plan, roof pitch, and materials needed.
Of course, as a creative, she decided the space needed an artful spin. “I customized plans to what I could afford and how I wanted to play off of the natural light that shines onto my property throughout the day,” she remembers. Most importantly, Leihgeber incorporated a high-pitched roof to really transform the space from the shed into a studio, her favorite aspect of the design.
“The overhead space makes me feel like I have more room inside, and I can store things up in a loft to get them out of the way when I need to,” she says. “It also sounds incredibly calming when it rains.”
Once Leihgeber felt like she had a good grasp on the process, she ordered materials and referred back to those same Youtube videos as she was building in real time. She enlisted the help of a few friends when she needed more hands, but was able to execute the project largely on her own.
Breaking ground in January of this year, Leihgeber couldn’t be happier with the results. “Now that I'm not commuting, I can use that time to do things I didn't have time to do before, like squeezing in a workout,” she says. “I can also make lunch and dinner in my kitchen and take breaks with my boyfriend or my dogs throughout the day as well, which makes me so happy.”
Plus, the space gives Leihgeber room to grow Maya Blu. The studio currently highlights her collection of dinnerware, vases, flower pots, wall hooks, lighting pendants, and coasters. All of the artist’s handmade pieces are made one by one to create an organic geometric form with simple lines.
Moving forward, Leihgeber wants to incorporate interior design into May Blu. “Along with my interest in construction and design, I've also been working on a line of ceramic home goods that are inspired by interior design,” she says. “I feel like this is just the first step toward that.”