My sister, Elyssa, designs light fixtures for a living, so over the years I’ve come to appreciate how — whether ceiling-mounted or resting on a side table — the right lighting can truly transform a space. It’s one of the most functional design pieces one can own. Although I may be slightly biased, I always take notice of and pay extra attention to the lighting section in any given store (and to lighting designers I come across online), so discovering Worley’s Lighting on Instagram led to an immediate follow.
Started in 2012 by Shelli Worley and her husband Seth from their home studio/garage in Rockhill, SC, Worley’s Lighting offers modern designs using wood, brass and glass. With a focus on quality craftsmanship and a knack for figuring out how things work in both design and business, by 2013, the brand took off — leading the couple (and their 3-year-old pit-bull mix, Opie) to hunt for a larger studio space to accommodate their growth and needs. After a long, tedious search, they found “a small, far from perfect, blank canvas, warehouse/office space that was the right price and showed potential!” Shelli says.
Being woodworkers, one of the first things the couple did was design and build the space’s staple fixtures and furniture pieces with some help from friends. As Shelli recounts, “The first weekend we moved in, we invited some of our carpenter friends down to help execute our design plan and made sort of a party out of it: beer, pizza and sawdust!” Although their priority pieces were finished within days, organizing, decorating and arranging their space to accommodate their workflow took nearly a full year, thanks to their tight budget. It took a large dose of patience, but Shelli and Seth were able to pinch their pennies by scouring estate sales and secondhand stores to create an inviting, workable space.
The studio is made up of two main areas — a larger, open warehouse and smaller office space — and the couple admits that it still has its flaws. “The warehouse has no heating or cooling, no windows (except for a garage door at the front), and no architectural features to brag about whatsoever,” Shelli begins, “I would love to install some big, old, factory windows on the wall that the warehouse shares with the office to add some openness and interest to the space.” Shelli and Seth have been itching to replace the old, beige carpet, remove the nonworking heating/cooling unit, and scrape the popcorn ceiling in the office space since the day they moved in; but with budget top-of-mind, they’ve found ways to work around the space’s flaws. Using their strengths and the tools they have on-hand, they’ve livened it up by executing affordable DIY projects such as installing cedar shingle onto the back wall in the office space and painting the wall opposite it black, adding texture and depth to the otherwise cookie-cutter environment. “I’ve always believed that the places where you spend most of your time should be given a lot of thought and attention to keep them feeling positive and fresh!” Shelli says.
For the couple, doing what they love in a space they can call their own is already a gift, but doing it as a family, Opie included, is the icing on the cake. “Our unit backs up to woods,” Shelli shares, “It also has a vacant, fenced-in open field next door and lots of friendly neighbors, the most recent additions being a groomer and dog training facility, which always brings excitement to Opie’s day!” Not only does their studio foster creativity, but with each challenge they face, whether it pertains to business or their physical space, Shelli and Seth are always thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow. –Sabrina
Photography by Lindsey Plevyak