Open Concept Office Renovation: Is It Right for Your Office?

By Blog, Renovation Resources

One of the most popular trends in both home and office renovations is the so-called “open concept.” From HGTV shows to McMansions, from Fortune 500 companies to small mom-and-pop shops, contractors are knocking down walls to create an open space that everyone can enjoy.

But is this “open concept” the right renovation for your office? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of the open concept office renovation:

The Pros of Open Concept

  • It’s keeping with the current office environment trends. According to Ken Wilson, a principle architect at Perkins & Will architectural firm, the office culture of the 21st Century focuses less on managerial hierarchy and more on collaboration. With an open concept office renovation, the spirit of collaboration will be encouraged.
  • It’s less expensive to build & furnish. How difficult is it, really, to knock down some walls and put in some big tables? This is especially beneficial for smaller, mom-and-pop type offices that have a limited budget.

The Cons of Open Concept

  • It doesn’t work for every office environment. Some studies suggest that productivity actually decreases in open-concept office environments, because of the noise factor. In addition, these same studies suggest that older, and more introverted, employees prefer to work in a private space, and could actually be deterred from working in an open concept office.
  • The aforementioned noise factor is a concern. When you’re undertaking an open concept office renovation, you need to incorporate “quiet pods” and other private spaces for employees to go into as they need them.

We can help you with your open concept office renovation. Contact us today for a quote and a consultation.

How to Style Your Home’s Interior Design for Long-term Use

By Blog, Renovation Resources

When you want to update your home decor, you may be tempted to jump in and redesign for the current trends and your most recent preferences. However, if you’re looking to stay in your living space for a while, and get the most return on your efforts, you’ll want to upgrade your interior design to get the best long-term investment. Follow these time-tested tips to create a space that will become a long-term haven:

  • Vary dimensions. Create a room with flow, one that keeps the eye moving naturally through the space. To do this, you must be aware of the size and shape of your furnishings; they can’t all be the same. Be sure to have a variety of heights and shapes to your lamps, photos, and more, while sticking to a complementary color/design theme to tie the look together. The varying heights and shapes will create negative space (the area where there’s no embellishment), which is just as important as the areas where you add decor: it will keep from cluttering your room and keep focus on the important design aspects. Being aware of your decor dimensions and heights will create a cohesive, but visually intriguing, look that you’ll never grow tired of.
  • Display embellishments and unique decor in arrangements. Your brightly colored accessories and small decor items shouldn’t be scattered throughout your room; what you may not realize is that similar small items and colors will look best grouped together. For a timeless layout, group similar pieces together to create one dynamic display area. If you haven’t heard the “rule of thirds,” consider this: items will appear balanced and appealing in odd numbers. Group your light-hued candles in one spot on a side table, or place three small photo frames together on a shelf.
  • Create focal points. Each room should be anchored by a focal point to draw the eye immediately in right away; use your statement furniture as the center of the room to design around, or, if in an open-concept floor plan, define your spaces by creating a layout originating from your chosen focal point (or decor item). Typically, in a segmented room, your focal point will be across from the entry, so consider hanging a stunning piece of artwork on the wall, or placing your statement furniture at that end of the room.
  • Design for light. Lighting can make or break a room. Choose the level of lighting and ambiance that you want for each room in advance, and move forward with your lighting choices from there. Natural light is a widely appealing feature, so in rooms with plenty, create a layout for maximum exposure, seating, and views of the light. In other rooms, experiment with layering lamps to vary your decor heights, and to provide multiple options for actual room usage. In living rooms, for example, you’ll want to have various heights of lamps (floors, tables, side-tables), to light the majority of the room while allowing for reading or enjoyment in a variety of ways. Use chandeliers or hanging lights to point to your focal pieces, and watch as your space becomes a classically enjoyable interior.
  • Decorate for your personality. No matter what, you’ll want to love your space. Do you have a photograph you love? A statement piece that speaks to you? Include it! You’ll need an inspiration and mood for each room, so design for your own style and life preferences (for example–inspiration: an exotic elephant statue; mood: worldly, whimsical).

For more expert tips on home interior design and renovations, contact us today.

Bathroom Renovations: What You Should Consider When Getting Started

By Blog, Renovation Resources

If you’re a business owner, or looking to upgrade your residential space, a bathroom renovation can be an involved–but highly necessary–project. With some prep work, a quick checklist, and an understanding of the time and money this will truly take, you’ll be able to plan and update your bathrooms in the way you want!

For homeowners, the average budget for bathroom renovations in 2015 was just over $9,000. The high-end spend was around $20,000 (be aware that for a large, extensive bathroom upgrade, especially for a commercial space, this number could rise even higher). As a rough estimate for your needs, you can begin with $175 to $225 per square foot, as approximated by a principal at Collaborative Design Architects. With these calculations, note that if you plan to be very thrifty and save, your cost may run closer to $100 per square foot–and if you plan to replace counters, floors, tub, and more with extremely high-end materials (the works), you could be looking at over $300 per square foot.

Compare these numbers to your project’s size and scope, and estimate from there to begin to develop a budget.

For time frame, you should be aware that bathroom remodels can take anywhere from one week (for a fast, efficient, and round-the-clock team) to six weeks. This will depend on your contractor and your efficiency in getting set up, so determine what factors you’ll be working with in your situation to assess.

As you go further, think through the details that will make differences for your time and budget:

Materials. Your budget will greatly depend on the materials you use. If you’re going for a luxury look, natural materials for walls and counters, like granite, marble, or teak will impress, but may run your expenses up. For a budget-friendly option, look to materials like laminate for your countertops, to upgrade lightly.

Contractors. Before you choose a contractor, be sure to know your options and do your research; carefully check your contractor’s references to be sure you’ll be getting the best return on your investment. Talk to at least three different contractors to assess a baseline budget, and to see where each falls. Consider, also, the flexibility of your contractor. Will he or she be able to work the hours you need in order to finish your renovation on time? Are you more flexible, and able to work with a longer timeline if it means a smaller budget?

If you plan ahead and know what your non-negotiables are–and what you can be open on–you’ll have the bathroom upgrade of your dreams in a smooth, simpler process. For more information on renovations and redesigns, contact us today.

Tips on Design – How to Choose a Color Scheme

By Blog, Renovation Resources

Interior design is lots of fun, and most of us enjoy freshening up our space with new colors, furniture, art work, and accent pieces. Sometimes it is difficult to decide on a color scheme for your space-you love a lot of colors, but you aren’t sure what will work in your space. Check out these tips on design to help find a color palette that you will love for years to come:

1. Look to your closet. Your closet is like a diary-it holds all your style secrets. Glancing through your closet gives you an idea of your favorite color schemes, whether your prefer warm or cool tones, and any aversions you have to certain colors. Colors that you prefer to wear are often a good choice for your interior design color palette.

2. The 60-30-10 rule is your friend. Design experts swear by the 60-30-10 rule-60 percent of a room should be a dominant color, 30 percent of the room a secondary color, and 10 percent of the room an accent color.

3. Understand your lighting. Natural light reflects differently off paint and fabric than artificial light, and different types of lamps, recessed lighting, and light fixtures offer varying intensities and shades of light. If you have a room with a lot of windows and southern exposure, the light will be very bright and create a lot of shadows-mid-tone colors suit these rooms best as they are crisp during the day and rich at night. Windowless rooms (or rooms with small windows or northern exposure) tend to be cooler and have less direct sunlight, so a warmer color palette will brighten these rooms and make up for the lack of natural light. Once the sun goes down, keep in mind that incandescent lights are warmer, while fluorescent lights are cooler and tend to have a blueish tint.

4. Lighten up with height. Colors should be lighter as you move higher in the room. For example, if you want to put color on your ceilings, choose the same color as your walls, but one or two shades lighter. A room feels larger when there is minimal contrast between walls and ceilings.

5. Don’t be afraid of an open floor plan. Choosing a color palette for an open floor plan seems like a tricky task, but there are many tricks to help you along the way. A monochromatic color scheme breaks up the space and gives each area a unique feel. Another option is the three-color scheme-one color on all the walls, one color on all the trim, and one color on the ceiling. Bookcases and other storage furniture can be used to break up long walls-decorate the shelves with wallpaper or accent paint colors to add a different look. Rugs can be used to personalize each room, and separate the areas.

Please feel free to contact us for more information and design tips that will help you create an awesome interior space.

How to Hire an Interior Designer for Your Retail Space

By Blog, Renovation Resources

While it might seem like an added expense, making an investment in an interior designer can pay off big time for your retail space. The right design can boosts sales by increasing your amount of overall traffic. Further, a professional will know the best ways to maximize your space along with your budget. Here are some tips on how to find and hire the best interior designer for your retail space:

  1. Ask around: Nobody knows better than your fellow retail store owners who to hire and who to avoid! Go for a walk to the stores nearest to you to inquire. Pay attention to which local stores catch your eye and which ones turn you away. Be sure to ask for references from the places that make you want to shop. It can also be useful to find out who designed store spaces that you don’t like to narrow down your choices. If you are taking over an old retail space, you’ll want to find someone who is experienced working with older buildings. Also, if you’re converting another commercial space such as a restaurant or warehouse to a retail space, you will need someone with experience with conversion.
  2. Know your vision: Have a solid idea of what you want out of your design before you begin interviewing designers. Start with the basics: Are you going for a vintage look or something more modern? Do you want bright colors or a darker look? In addition, you will need to consider how people are going to shop at your store. A clothing store will need fitting rooms while a beauty boutique will need makeup counters and chairs/stools. Any retail space will need enough walkways for people to comfortably fit down the aisles, so you will need to consider how you are going to display your products. Knowing the specific style you want will not only help you narrow down the designers you interview, it will also be useful to determine which designer is most capable of helping you achieve your vision.
  3. Set a realistic budget: You want all the bells and whistles, sure, but  you probably can’t afford them just yet. Make a realistic budget along with a list of things you absolutely need. For instance, a clothing store will absolutely need good quality shelves, racks, and fitting rooms along with other essentials such as good lighting and attractive (and safe, lead-free) paint. You can create a separate list of things you want but will be ok with not having right away such as accent lamps, fancy overhead light fixtures, and an upgraded sound system. You can always add in design elements later as your store gets going and just get the essentials at this stage.
  4. Get specific during the interview: After each candidate leaves the interview, you should have a clear idea of what your retail space will look like, how much it will cost, and how long it will take. Ask specific questions regarding budget and timeline during the interview, and don’t be afraid to turn someone away who can’t meet your needs.
  5. Get references: Each candidate should be able to provide you with three references that you can contact to find out about their work style. Be sure to follow up with references, even for candidates who seem like a dream to work with. This is your money and your store after all. You want to make sure the designer you pick is going to follow through.

Hiring a designer for your retail space will save you headaches and money in the long run. Use these tips to find the best designer in your area for your store. For more information on how to find the perfect designer for your store, contact us today!

Your Home’s Renovation Fee: How do you figure it out?

By Blog, Renovation Resources

Your home is your biggest investment, and naturally, if you want it to maintain its value, you’re going to have to renovate it periodically.

So, you meet with an interior designer — or a construction company — and they give you a quote for their services. There’s just one problem: you don’t know if the quote is too high, not high enough, or just right. So, how do you determine the right renovation fee for your home? Here’s our list of things to keep in mind before determining if you’ve been quoted a fair price:

  1. Make a list of all of the materials you need. For example, if you’re renovating your kitchen, list the amount of tile you’ll need, any appliances, the amount of drywall, etc. Be sure to take accurate measurements of the room (or of the entire home, if you’re doing a complete home remodel).
  2. After you get a complete list of the materials, get a few price quotes — don’t just settle for the first quote that was given to you. You may even want to get some of the prices yourself — many “big box” home improvement stores periodically have clearance sales that can save you hundreds of dollars!
  3. Next, calculate the amount of labor hours that will be needed to renovate the room in question. Again, be realistic, and be aware that when drywall is removed, especially in high-moisture places like kitchens and bathrooms, other problems with plumbing, mold, and faulty wiring may be uncovered, which will cause an increase in labor and materials costs.
  4. When factoring in the cost of materials, be sure to bear in mind that materials will vary in price, as well, and this variance is dependent on the quality of the materials procured. While a typical porcelain or ceramic tile in a “big box” store can be relatively inexpensive (sometimes as low at 99 cents per square foot!), a tile made from travertine or imported Italian marble can be significantly more expensive. Travertine tiles start at approximately $10 per square foot; Italian marble tiles start at double that price!
  5. When getting a quote from a contractor or designer, be sure to ask about the quality and type of materials they’ll be providing for their price as well.
  6. Once you get all the costs of the renovation together (materials and labor) that you then compare it to the price that a designer, or contractor, gives you. Again — don’t go with the first price that’s given to you. Compare a few quotes, and go with the one that provides the most reasonable price for the proper amount of work.
  7. In comparing prices, be careful of the designer or contractor giving you the lowest prices. Sometimes the cheapest is not always the best, as their experience, quality, and speed of construction may be lacking, which can cost more in the long run.
  8. To that end, too, you’ll need to set aside a contingency budget (better known as an “emergency funds” reserve) that’s equal to about 15% of your total renovation budget to account for problems that may be uncovered during the renovation process.

Contact us today to discuss your home’s renovation project.

Preparing for Your First Interior Design Meeting: 3 Tips to Make the Most of Your Time

By Blog, Renovation Resources

You are beginning to worry that staring at those drab beige walls in your office day after day might actually be sucking the life right out of you. How can you be expected to be inventive and clever when your “creative space” looks about as exciting as the inside of an elevator? You’ve seen pages upon pages of awesome office designs in magazines, and you think, wow-now that is a space that could really get the creative juices flowing… You know what you like, but you’re not quite sure how to make it happen-so you decide to bring in the big guns. You’ve hired an interior designer to help you achieve the master work place you’ve been dreaming of. You look forward to your first meeting with anticipation, but you really need to get your ducks in a row to ensure that your designer truly understands your vision.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for that first meeting:

1. Create a profile. Your interior designer will need to understand how you use your space in order to create the most functional design possible. Create a profile of your office space – what tasks are performed on a daily basis, do you see clients in your office, is your business style formal or informal, etc.

2. Outline the scope of your project. Once your designer understands how the space is used, they will need to understand what you want to have done. Clearly outline exactly what you expect from the design changes-are you looking to create space, liven up the place, or completely change the entire layout? If you have a vague idea of what you want, but are unsure of the details, explain which details you need help nailing down. Maybe you know you’d like to bring some color and life into your office, but don’t know what colors best suit your business. Make a list of these specific questions in your outline and be sure to present them to your designer.

Your outline is also the place to include your expectations as far as time and cost are concerned-have a budget in mind and let your designer know how much time you are willing to invest in the project. The more information you have ready for your designer, the quicker they can get to work.

3. Create an inspiration portfolio. Since you made up your mind to redesign your office, you’ve probably been noticing potential design elements everywhere-carpet swatches at the home improvement store, a unique armchair and vintage desk in the antique store window, that really awesome eye-popping new paint color at your favorite coffee shop. These little bits of inspiration are important parts of your vision, and keeping track of these can be of enormous help to your designer. Snap a picture on your phone if you are out and see something inspiring, grab paint samples, and clip some magazine images to create your own portfolio. Having a visual reference, such as a pinterest board, will make it much simpler to explain your desired outcome.

For example, here is openUU’s Cafe Design board for some inspiration.

Follow openUU ltd.’s board Cafe Design on Pinterest.

Redesigning your office seems like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. Creating an inviting new space that fosters creativity is an exciting event. Remember to prepare a list of any questions you might have for your interior designer before your meeting, and organize your information to ensure that you are both on the same page. Please feel free to contact us for more information about interior design.

5 Things to Consider When Starting Your Own Restaurant

By Blog, Renovation Resources

Starting a restaurant is a wonderful endeavor! It’s challenging and exciting, but you need to make sure you do not get too caught up in that excitement that you forget some really important factors. Maybe you’ve thought it over and know exactly how you want everything, but in case you’ve forgotten something, here are five key elements to consider.

Brand Direction

Before you make any major decisions, you should decide on a brand direction, and maybe hire a brand consultant if you feel it’s necessary. This person will do research about your prospective patrons and help you brand your business accordingly. They will guide you in the right direction to reach the people you want at your restaurant. Many following decisions will be based on the brand you and your consultant choose for you.

Food Options

Who is your target audience? Should you have a large menu to please everyone’s taste buds, or do you want something simpler to please your guests with an easier decision-making process? In making these decisions, you’ll have to determine a food budget. You should also decide what you’ll be “known” for. Will you be known for your succulent seafood or your warm, creamy soups?

Menu Design

What about menu aesthetics? Are you wanting something up-scale or maybe something a little more retro? See, there are lots of ideas to consider here! Here are some design ideas:

This menu is brightly colored and enthralling. It's very visually stimulating, perfect for lunch or dinner.

This menu is brightly colored and enthralling. It’s very visually stimulating, perfect for lunch or dinner.

This menu is easy to navigate. The pictures pull the customers' eyes to page, allowing them to make an easier decision. You could picture your signature meals at the tops of the pages.

This menu is easy to navigate. The pictures pull the customers’ eyes to page, allowing them to make an easier decision. You could picture your signature meals at the tops of the pages.

This menu has a modern, up-scale feel about it.

This menu has a modern, up-scale feel about it.

Interior Design

Unless you have a knack for design, you may want to consult an interior designer. Even if you know what you want your restaurant to look like, a professional will be able to help you execute your plans more efficiently. An interior designer will also be able to tell you what will look best to your customers. Here are some design ideas:

A simple design, like this one by Minas Kosmidis, with white wooden floors and a homey feel.

A simple design, like this one by Minas Kosmidis, with white wooden floors and a homey feel.

Golucci International Design

A cozy, inviting design, like this one by Golucci International Design, with a modern splash.

DesignLSM

A corporate design, like this one by DesignLSM. This is a place you would take someone you’re trying to impress!

Employees

While you may not be that far into the game yet, it’s never too early to begin prospecting. In order for a restaurant launch to be a success, you need a strong staff. Think about what who you want representing your restaurant. Do you want a younger, more fun staff, or do you want employees who are a little more refined? Also, think about appearance. What uniform will best correlate with your restaurant brand?

For help launching your new restaurant, contact us! We are here to serve you, so you can serve us!

Making Restaurant Branding Work for You

By Blog, Renovation Resources

When you decide to open a restaurant, one of the first things you need to consider is how you want to brand your restaurant.  What is it about your restaurant that sets you apart from every other restaurant in your area? Restaurant branding doesn’t just make you sit down and decide what’s special about your business.  It also tells potential customers who you are.

Your logo is the first interaction your customers have with your restaurant.  It should give them an idea of what to expect.  What kind of “feel” should they expect from your restaurant?  Is it a family restaurant?  A bar and grill?  Should customers be dressed up or dressed down?  Your logo should give your customers the answer to those questions at a glance.

Tie your interior design to your logo.  When customers step through your door, they should have the feeling that they already know what to expect from your restaurant.  They’ve seen the logo; carrying it inside makes them feel comfortable and at home.  Use the same colors in your restaurant that you do in your logo or bring elements of it inside to tie your interior design together.

Determine what you want your customers to say about you.  What is it that you want to set your restaurant apart?  When customers leave your restaurant, what do you want them talking about?  Design your restaurant in such a way that your customers leave with that concept uppermost in their minds.  Do you have a focus on customer service that can’t be beat?  A family-friendly atmosphere that will have a couple on date night eager to come back with the kids?  A particular dish that can’t be beat by any of your competitors?  By focusing on this element, you’ll help your customers recognize it, too.

If you’re looking to build your restaurant’s brand from the ground up and not sure where to start, contact us!  We’re ready to help with every step of the process.