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.


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


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.

Transforming a Warehouse Into a Retail Space With Clever Design

By Blog, Renovation Resources

Transforming warehouses into homes has long been a trendy choice in urban markets like New York and Chicago. But cutting edge interior designers with an eye for architecture have recently been developing these warehouses into exciting and edgy retail spaces.

In a competitive market, industrial redevelopment turns abandoned eyesores into useful properties. Warehouses are often attractive to retailers with their “proximity to major transportation hubs and thoroughfares, high parking ratios, architectural interest, potential for open-plan layouts, and high ceilings. Industrial sites also usually are near water lines, sewage systems, roads, and utility lines.” Upgrading these spaces with clever design that utilizes the unique lines of the space provides a quality, low rent solution for growing businesses.

The creative possibilities of abandoned warehouses are infinite. Furniture retailer Hunt & Gather moved their showroom/gallery into a renovated warehouse to meet the needs of a younger, creative customer base. With the new open floor plan, Hunt & Gather can highlight the unique design of their wide variety of pieces. Taking warehouse design in a completely different direction, urban farmers are using industrial properties to provide green solutions to city spaces. Creative thinking allowed farmers to redesign warehouse spaces to grow plants indoors and control environmental factors like pesticides and climate change.

While an innovative solution, transforming warehouse spaces requires a professional team. Hiring an interior designer with experience in industrial design allows you to transform the unique features of the space from exposed pipes to vintage furniture to create the perfect look for your retail space while remaining safe and following established building codes. Contact openUU to brainstorm ideas for help designing the perfect industrial space for your company’s needs.

4 Ways Office Design Can Increase Productivity

By Blog, Renovation Resources

Whether you’re starting from scratch or refurbishing your current office, creating a professional, functional and comfortable space will project the right image to your clients and increase overall productivity.

Studies show that comfort and productivity are interrelated, and most experts agree that almost every office can benefit from a few changes in layout and organization. Consider some of the following ways you can improve the comfort level of your office to increase the productivity of the staff.

Create a comfortable environment

Strive to make your office a healthy and comfortable workplace. Use ergonomic furniture and accessories, proper lighting, and a functional design to minimize discomfort and distraction and help you and your employees work more productively.

Encourage employees to customize their workstations with accessories that help them work comfortably – keyboard trays, anti-glare screens, task lighting and footrests – and to adjust their chairs to the proper height and angle. You can even hire an ergonomic expert to consult with each worker individually. A quick evaluation will determine what each employee needs to do to avoid repetitive-stress injuries.

Improve your layout

Take a look at where employees sit and the location of the office equipment. Consider ways to improve the overall flow of your office. Put printers, fax machines and other shared equipment in areas that are easy to access, and seat work teams or departments together in shared areas or cubicles. Try to open spaces and align desks, so it’s easy to move around the office.

Use mobile furniture

Adjustable and mobile furniture is a good option for growing businesses with limited space; you can easily reconfigure cubicles and workstations and rearrange your office to accommodate growth, partition departments, or separate equipment areas and other noisy parts of the office.

Control noise levels

Consider using panel systems, carpeting, and ceiling tiles to absorb sound and provide privacy. To reduce auditory distractions, put fax machines, copiers and other noisy office equipment in a separate area surrounded by cubicle walls or partition walls. Try to keep nosier employees, such as customer service representatives or salespeople, who spend a lot of time on the phone, away from those who require quiet work spaces.

If you need help with any aspect of office design or layout, consult a professional. They can help you select furniture and assist you with space planning, lighting, interior construction, fire and building codes, and other office design issues.

Reasons to Hire an Interior Designer to Help Design Your Restaurant

By Blog, Renovation Resources

As a budding young chef you have worked hard to make it to the top. As you go to open your new restaurant you have carefully considered each item on your menu to make sure it is crafted to your exacting standards of quality and taste. But have you spent the same amount of time considering the design of your new restaurant?

Why Design Matters

The famous Ohio State University study confirmed restaurateurs worst fears when it reported that 60% of restaurants fail within the first year and a dramatic 80% fail within five. While naturally it is important to produce food of the highest caliber, it is equally important to provide a setting that encourages people to stay, socialize, and eat in your one of a kind space. A recent study published by the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management on why restaurant fail lists decor as a key reason many new businesses fold. The study concluded that design failures directly contributed to a competitive and economic loss. Many restaurateurs are not equipped to design for a specific space and “architectural limitations were found to be one of the major factors in restaurant failures especially in urban settings, and some of the architectural limitations in restaurants have even resulted in the greater failure of the business.”

How Hiring a Designer Can Help Your Restaurant Stay Competitive

As the study shows, restaurateurs need to be aware of the specific benefits and limitations of the space they have acquired for their new restaurant. By hiring an interior designerwith the ability to utilize the architectural elements of your space, you can maximize your competitive edge with a restaurant that combines excellent food with a dynamic design. Architectural Digests agrees that a beautiful design can sell a restaurant in their article on the 10 Most Beautifully Designed New Restaurants. Entrepreneur Magazine also offers some Low-Cost Ideas for restauranteurs looking to plan a design on a budget.

If you are looking for an innovative designer to help make your one of a kind restaurant a success, contact openUU.