Archive for October, 2010

Refresh Your Office on A Budget

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

If you’re in the market to update your office but are not yet ready to commit to a big budget redesign, there are plenty of changes you can make to spruce up on a dime.

  • The first tip has absolutely nothing to do with design.  Before you look for ways to refresh your office, you need to minimize.  Clear out any old paperwork, broken or outdated machinery, and junk that you no longer need or use.  Take on the task of entering old paper files into electronic databases when the office is slow.  Minimizing the clutter and paperwork that are bogging down your office will make an immeasurable impact.
  • Assess what you use throughout the day.  There could be things clogging up your desk that you don’t use but once a week or so.   Do you really need a stapler, a hole punch, and a scanner all on top of your desk?  Items which you do not use several times a day should be contained in attractive, functional storage.   The less visual clutter sitting atop your desk, the more productive you’ll be throughout the day.
  • Find storage solutions that are aesthetically pleasing.  Looking at items that are well designed will make your office seem more like a retreat than a workspace.  You can find great containers, bins, and baskets on a wallet-friendly budget at places like Target and the Container Store.
  • Is your office space configuration functioning at its highest potential?  Consider looking at new configurations of furniture if possible.  Try your desk on a different wall or your bookcase set at a different angle.  If you have systems furniture that may be difficult to rearrange on a whim, take out the graph paper or talk to an interior designer about how you can achieve a more functional workspace while limiting the number of new components that you need to purchase.
  • Perk up worn fabric.  Choose an updated fabric in a bright new color to recover tack boards and seating.  This shouldn’t blow your budget and will instantly make your workspace feel refreshed.
  • Paint an accent wall.  You may be able to enlist a team of coworkers to tackle this project one day after work.  It won’t take long if it’s just one wall and can make a huge difference in the look of your office.
  • Personalize the space.  Choose a pen cup that you love to look at, display a beautiful picture frame with a beloved picture, or use a notebook in your favorite color.    Surrounding yourself with things you love will always make your office feel refreshed.

Timeless, yet Updated, Color Schemes for the Office

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Whether you are decorating your home office or a commercial space, the color scheme that you select says much about your attitude in the workplace and the philosophy of your brand.  In some cases, a logo or the company colors can dictate a color scheme, however, there are also times when you’ll have the opportunity and creative freedom to select colors all your own.  When this opportunity arises, the best bet is to pick a color scheme that is versatile and timeless yet current, and colors that encourage productivity and concentrati0n.  A backdrop of neutral pieces accented with the colors you love is always classic.

There are some colors which typically fare better in office environments than others.  These colors have stood up to the test of time and are  proven to enhance workplace  morale.

  • Beige – Steer clear of stark white and instead look for a color with more depth, such as a beige.  This is a great neutral that can be accented with bolder pops of color.
  • Olive – Olive is a warm, rich, earthy color that will keep you grounded and focused on the tasks at hand.
  • Blue – Blues from a restful light blue to a bright royal blue to a serious navy are great in the office.  Blue is the universal favorite color and most workers will be happy to see blue in the office.
  • Oranges, Yellows, and Reds – These colors should not be the main color of a room because they can make people feel irritable or agitated over long periods of time, but they are great choices for accent colors.  A bright color in small doses is perfect for keeping energy up.
  • Pink  – If you’re looking for a color  to spark creativity and imaginative thinking, pink is your color.  It’s perfect for those in creative fields.
  • Brown – From light tan to dark chocolate brown, brown is a strong color that serves as the backbone of an office.  It creates a cozy, yet studious setting.

Stay away from colors that are too bright in large quantities and color combination that contrast starkly.  These distract workers and create a current of uneasiness.

When you’re choosing the color scheme for your office, keep in mind the choices that will stick with you the longest.  Wood stains on casegoods and flooring should be versatile so that any future color fabric and paint changes will look just as stylish as the original scheme.  Dark stained wood is always classic and looks polished with beige, brown, or gray as your base color in upholstery, systems furniture, carpeting, and fabric.

Once you have a neutral backdrop in your key pieces in the office, it’s time to incorporate color.  As we covered earlier, colors that encourage energy and creativity are wonderful in office settings.  Yellow is a huge color in design right now, and orange and red are always popular.  Bright orange accent pillows in the lounge area, subtle yellow in a tackboard fabric, a well designed pink pen holder, these are all ways to incorporate color in a way that is not overwhelming yet makes an impact.  If you’re looking for a more airy, soothing palate, try light woods and laminates with creamy off whites, light blues, and pale olive greens.

Whichever colors you choose to use, make sure to base your color scheme around a grounded neutral.  This way you can accent it with bright colors that can be switched out every 5 years or every decade.  It is the more daring colors that will make an office look dated, so when those colors are easy to change, your office can remain timeless yet fresh.

Sustainable Ideas for Interior Designers

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

As interior designers, there are many things that we can do to increase sustainability and lower the environmental footprint of clients’ projects.  By selecting our materials thoughtfully and giving careful consideration before buying completely new products, the project can become both green and efficient.  Of course there are the obvious suggestions of using low-VOC paints, installing dimmers on lights to reduce energy usage, using renewable resources, and investing in Energy Star appliances, but there are many other ideas that can make a major impact on carrying out your project as sustainably as possible.

  • Use local manufacturers and vendors.  This is beneficial for several reasons.  When you use local products, the resources that would otherwise be used to transport items from one country, state, or city to another are greatly reduced, as is the time that it takes in shipping.  Shipping materials create pollution in their production and waste in their disposal.  The amount of shipping materials necessary for local shipping is far less than that for cross-country freight.  As we attempt to become less fuel-dependent, it is also an important benefit that far less gas and fuel is used in shipping when you’re just going across town rather than to a different state.  Using local vendors and manufacturers also pumps money into the local economy and helps small businesses.
  • Look to antique stores rather than showrooms full of brand new furniture.  Antiques have already been manufactured so their environmental footprint is now minimal.  If they are not sold, beautiful antiques could end up discarded, adding to overflowing trash dumps.  By shopping antiques, you will again find yourself helping the local economy and reducing the impact that manufacturing has on the environment, while also creating a home full of character and history.
  • Stick to the old adage Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.  Look at a client’s current pieces and see what you can do to make these pieces work in a new room.  Sofas, ottomans, and other upholstered pieces can be recovered.  Wood furniture that is looking a little worn can be painted or refinished.  Take the fabric or trim from drapery and make accent pillows or upholster a vintage chair.  The initial manufacturing process releases so many pollutants and uses  so many materials, that simply repurposing what you have can make a dramatic difference in the carbon footprint of your project.  While the cost may not be substantially different, the sustainable result is.

These ideas will help your project get on the right track towards staying sustainable.  The end result will not only be just as gorgeous as your other designs, but both you and your client will feel great about the lack of  negative impact that your work has on the environment.