Archive for the ‘Repurposing’ Category

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  Clear out any old paperwork, broken or outdated machinery, and junk that you no longer need or use.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.

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.

Celebrating the Sun

Saturday, July 31st, 2010
Top 5 Solar Myths Take advantage of the tax rebates on solar.
Scrap Lights: Graypants has introduced light fixtures made from recycled corrugated cardboard boxes.
Easy living room update with simple accents for summer color.  Carpet tiles are a quick update.  I have had them for several years in my dining room and kitchen.  You can’t beat a washable flooring!!!

Add light to your nights as well.  Johnsonite Safe-T-First photo luminescent (glow in the dark) products make egress in the dark safe for business or home.

10 Golden Lessons From Steve Jobs. Some great ideas on how to live your life.

Art for the Office

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

You might be wondering why a commercial interior designer keeps posting items about home décor. The reason is simple. Great design does not always mean high cost. There are so many ideas out there that can be modified slightly to work in office environments. Offices need a bit of “decorating” to appear inviting and not so sterile. I don’t find many people who enjoy inhabiting extremely sterile places. We spend 90% of our time indoors and often more time in the office than in our homes. Why not bring a little bit of “home” to the office while maintaining a professional look?

Art is an after thought (if any) in most offices. Art is also the first to fall to the axe on a tight budget project. But there is a reason why humans love art, it creates an emotional response. I am a big believer in using money to the best advantage and there are many ways to create an “expen$ive” look with items that are a great price (bargain shopper). At minimum, the office reception area needs at least one focal point. I would even say that every room needs at least one art focal point.

The corporate identity (brand or image) your company is trying to portray is key. Every choice you make in your interior should relate back to your corporate identity, especially visual items you select from infinite possibility. Why pass up the chance to make a statement? Why not use that opportunity to influence your clients’ perception of why they should pick your business? Try to select art images that subliminally relate back to your company corporate identity (nature with rocks = stability, trees or columns = stability, local photos = familiar, etc).

I spend a lot of time looking at catalogs and ads in the media for ideas. In fact, I have binders full of ideas that I have pulled for years. Look at things with an open mind and look for the concept behind what you are seeing. How can you adapt it to work for your specific needs? I like to look at items being sold and come up with ways to use them in a manner that they WEREN’T intended to be used. Hardware and office supply stores are most fun.

Why not use your company logos

Create privacy by hanging a “divider” from the ceiling grid. For the office you don’t want to spend time swapping out real leaves, instead use printed images that relate back to your corporate identity.

Remember you don’t always need glass for artwork. Another tip: take old mismatched frames and spray paint all one color. The unified color creates a visual group with interest. I like contrast and personally am partial to black accents, but what color do you like? Use three dimensional found objects. Do you have any promotional items laying around the office that would look fun?

Perfect office idea. The accent paint strip is fun and the recycled ceiling tile is great. Groupings are more interesting to the eye if items are in odd numbers like 3 or 5.

What found object can support your corporate identity?

Happy creating!

Suzanne Dummer Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP
Elemental Design, LLC

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