Top Renovation Tips For Your Commercial Space

By | Blog, Renovation Resources

blog-tips-for-your-commercial-spaceWhether you just want to freshen up your office space or you’re going for an all-over renovation, there’s no getting around the messy and time-consuming nature of an office renovation. Here are our top renovation tips to help make this as short and easy a process as possible so you can get back to work… in style:

Think long term

How you need to use your office space now might change in a year or two if you’re planning on expanding your business. Before you start renovating, make sure you know what your five-year plan is for the business so you can make renovations accordingly. You don’t want to go through this process more often than you need to so work with your designer to develop a renovation plan that will allow your business to grow. Introducing smart storage solutions is one way to make sure your business doesn’t outgrow your space or your renovation.

Think about your employees

You might be making the final decisions about paint and carpeting, but consider how you want your employees to work when you start your renovation project. Adding in ergonomic and/or standing work stations in offices can help your employees by reducing the strain on their bodies that can come from desk work. As the research keeps rolling in on the negative aspects of a sedentary work style, more and more employees are searching for ways to work while walking or standing. Be proactive now in order to keep top talent working for you and boost their productivity.

Go light

In general, light colors are more conducive for work spaces, but don’t go too crazy with the coloring. Neutral colors along with windows that let in natural light give offices an inviting feeling in contrast to dark colors that tend to bring down productivity.

Natural lighting

Along with keeping your paint and furniture light, make sure to incorporate natural light in your office. It’s no secret that people generally don’t appreciate the look of fluorescent lights, but research has concluded that natural light really does help people work better. A study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign concluded that employees who were exposed to natural light in offices overall had a better quality of life than those who were not. These improvements include “longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, more physical activity and better quality of life compared to office workers with less light exposure in the workplace.” Incorporate windows and/or skylights into your design to help your employees and to make your commercial space a brighter and healthier place.

Think about the benefits

Adding up the cost of money and time for the renovation might have you start second-guessing the project, but remember that there are a lot of benefits to renovating your office space. Customers and clients will appreciate your updated look, especially if your current space is sporting old trends. In addition, updating your windows, lighting, even your faucets can save your company a lot of energy usage, which translates to a significant amount of money saved over the long haul. In addition, your employees will be happier and more productive in an updated, contemporary space, which will translate to a boost in business.

Working with a designer is the best way to make sure your office renovation will serve your business now and in the future. For more ideas on how to renovate your commercial space, contact us today.

5 Great Reasons to Hire a Professional Interior Designer

By | Blog, Renovation Resources

blog-reasons-to-hire-professional-interior-designerWhen it is time to think about giving your professional space a facelift, it is a good idea to employ strategies that have worked in other aspects of your business. For instance, when you need a good accountant, you do not hesitate to find one that understands your business needs and can meet those needs successfully. When you need an executive assistant, you carefully consider the qualified candidates and choose one that matches your goals and objectives. When you choose to renovate, the same principle applies.

A good interior designer can do much to make your renovation a smooth and pleasant journey. Here are five great reasons to hire an interior designer.

1) A professional interior designer can save you a great deal of money.

While some think that hiring a designer will be cost-prohibitive, often the reverse is true. A designer with a good working knowledge of structural matters as well as aesthetic concerns will be able to steer you away from  costly mistakes in the renovation process, thereby saving you both time and money. And with additional money to spend, you can achieve more of the look that your professional space deserves.

2) A professional interior designer will use a trained eye.

What does that mean, exactly? A designer has been trained to recognize what is right and what is wrong with your space. Often, a designer can make suggestions that you may have never imagined to maximize the potential of your space.   Are you interested in a more traditional office space with individual partitions, or are you thinking of a more open design?  If you are having trouble deciding what will work best for your business, a designer will discuss how your enterprise works and make suggestions that will help you achieve your goals. Designers are often experts at “thinking outside the box”, thereby making your space unique and wow-worthy.

3) A professional designer will know people.

As you know with your own business, there is much value in having good, dependable contacts. The same is true for designers. Often a professional designer knows a variety of people you will need as work commences on your project.  This will save you both time and money, as you will not have to find reliable carpenters, painters, plumbers, and other workers in the building trades without expert advice. And with solid workmen supporting the professional design at every step, the finished product will meet or exceed your expectations.

4) A professional designer can help you budget and plan your renovation well.

With the knowledge of standard costs for various aspects of a renovation, the designer can work with you to find the best resources available for your needs. Taking the guesswork out of your projected budget is a real bonus for you, as it alleviates anxiety regarding the renovation process.  Often, your designer can suggest upgrades that will enhance the value of your space considerably, while still keeping an eye on making you and your employees comfortable.

5)  A professional designer can help you plan and visualize your space.

You inhabit your office space for hours every day and are accustomed to the way things are arranged there.  Sometimes, when you think about renovation, it may be difficult to truly visualize what changes can be made to bring your space back to life.  A good designer can see things with a fresh perspective, offering ideas on a wide variety of design options that will get your creative juices flowing again.  Then, once you have a clear picture of where you want to go with the project, the designer can ensure that your vision is honored throughout every step of the process.

These are just a few of the benefits of working with a professional designer. To learn more, please contact us. We will be happy to show you how we can benefit your project today.

Estimating the Cost of an Interior Designer

By | Blog, Renovation Resources

blog-estimating-cost-of-interior-designerMaking the investment in great interior design is a decision that will benefit your home or business for years to come. If you love the idea of working with an interior designer on your next project, you might be wondering what the designer cost will be. Here are a few practical steps that will help you build your budget.

Define the Scope of the Project

In order to establish a realistic budget, you’ll first need to define the scope of your project. Interior design costs can vary greatly based on style, size, materials used and complexity of the project. By taking the time to asses the project and develop a list of priorities, you’ll increase the chances of hitting your budget objectives. The American Society of Interior Designers offers a sample scope of work that sheds light on the intricacy of this process.

When establishing your scope of work, consider your target time-frame, practical concerns and project needs. Working closely with your interior designer and clearly communicating your requests will minimize unwanted costs. It is important to understand that requesting last-minute changes to your project can increase your expenses and cause delays, especially if construction has already commenced. Careful planning can save you headaches in the long run.

Understand the Billing Process of Your Chosen Designer

Not all interior designers bill in the same way and billing practices often vary from project to project. As you discuss the design plan, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask about billing procedures. The Life of an Architect website offers some great resources that explain the difference between hourly, per square foot and combination fee structures.

Here is a basic breakdown:

Hourly– This fee structure is fairly easy to understand. You will be charged, using an hourly rate, based on the service provided. This rate will differ by the project being completed. Designer or Architects can range from USD$50 to USD$500 depending from the type of work and years or experience.

Percentage of Cost– This form of billing involves using a percentage, typically 8-15%, of the total renovation cost. This generally does not include the cost of coordination of services or specialty items (like upgraded furniture). For example, if the overall renovation cost is $2M, then 10% of the cost would be $200,000.

Cost per Square Foot– Just as with the percentage of cost method, this will not include specialty items and services. This is similar to the hourly structure, but is based rather on a flat fee per square foot. Again, this can range from USD$10 and up per square foot. So a 1,000 square feet project can cost USD$10,000 for the design fee.

Combination Structure– By far the most common, this billing structure combines costs, usually breaking them into a cost per hour, percentage of construction cost and fee for special service.

Additional charges may come into play if the scope of the project changes due to unforeseen circumstances or changes to your requests. Keep in mind that professional interior designers utilize their network of contacts to keep overall prices as low as possible. Having a clear understanding of your designer’s billing practices will help you to build a design budget that is realistic.

Entrusting your project to a qualified interior designer is a great decision. Contact us to learn more about the interior design process and how we can assist you with achieving your goals.

Estimating Your Renovation Time

By | Blog, Renovation Resources

blog-estimating-renovation-timeUpgrading your home or office space will increase your comfort, make your clients and guests feel more comfortable and increase productivity.

Before diving in to a new project, you might be wondering how to estimate your renovation time. There are many factors involved with a project that affect its timeliness, but there are some proactive steps you can take to estimate your timeline and minimize delays.

Factor in Prep Time

Even the smallest miscalculation can cause delays to your renovation project. It might be tempting to rush in, but working with your interior designer to accurately measure, develop a budget and draw out plans will save you time in the long run. Prep work, along with requesting and gathering appropriate documents from government agencies average a month or more, and can take up to three months, depending on the project. Architectural construction can last more than a year, due to the extensive documentation required before work can commence. Fixing a mistake can be far more time-consuming than doing things right the first time.

Consider the Scope of your Project

Minor cosmetic changes such as painting can be completed in a day or two, but even small tasks like getting a quote from a contractor will take up to a week or so. Small renovations can take 2 to 3 months and highly customized projects that involve heavy construction and equipment installation can take several months or longer. The average kitchen renovation takes between four and six weeks, for example. Home renovations differ from commercial renovations and so do their timelines.

The size, age and location of your space will also factor in to the time estimate. Unexpected complications often arise during projects that can delay the initial timeline. Moving of electrical and plumbing components and repair to unknown structural damage are among the few reasons for work delays.  Collaborate with your designer to develop a timeline that factors in each component of your project.

Communicate with your Interior Designer

An experienced interior designer will give you a good feel for a project’s timeline and also discuss potential complications. Your designer will work with you to determine what needs to be done to avoid delays. This could range from making a tile selection to confirming furniture pieces. Of course, not all delays can be anticipated, so expect to work with your designer throughout the project to update your timeline.

Don’t Skip Steps

All in all, a small-scaled renovation project can take about 2 months, including prep time and the actual renovation process. Larger scope projects may require a bit more planning, and can take up to 3-4 months. Renovation can cause disruption to your household or business, so it’s tempting to skip steps to save time. Working with unlicensed vendors, making last-minute changes and rushing through processes can all lead to mistakes, fees and delays. It’s important to be realistic from the beginning and understand that skimping because of time or budget can lead to costly and time-consuming delays and headaches.

You can add comfort and value to your home or office space with minimal disruption by trusting experts, properly planning and setting realistic goals. Contact Us to learn more about developing a project timeline and creating the home or business that works for you.

Nike Office Design Feature Vibrant Colors

By | Blog, Renovation Resources

Neutral colors and sedate decor have their place, color is king when it comes to Nike office design. Recently, we had the opportunity to design the conference room facilities at Nike’s Hong Kong office.

You can’t have Nike without its brand-recognizing orange, or without the Nike illustrations that are so much a part of its heritage. As explained in a recent news feature in the South China Morning Post, in addition to those inspirations, our other inspiration for the conference room design was the Google workspace — that is, a playful area where people want to come to work. We wanted to provide a casual atmosphere in which creativity and a sort of social productivity were fostered. Pops of color, including orange, were important to the project, as was the vision of movement and athleticism.

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Nike: Conference in Hong Kong by openUU

The conference facilities feature a lounge area with custom furniture that is easy to move. Conference rooms are separated from each other with movable partitions. There is a group area which is designated by a blackboard, brightly colored seating, and a bright Astroturf wall. The space was tied together both by the ability to link the rooms together into larger, shared quarters, as well as by the sports theme throughout.

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Nike Canteen by UXUS Design

 

Bright colors are also important in the design of the Nike Canteen, in the Netherlands, where designers UXUS created a sports pub-inspired space that wove Nike orange, bright red, and yellow throughout. The Canteen design also features logos, graphics, and even the favorite lunch choices of world class athletes were used as decoration. The project tied together seemingly different elements in order to meet the various needs of workers: cozy spaces for solitude, vast tables for group projects.

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Nike London Office by Rosie Lee

You won’t see plain white walls at Nike’s London office either. Instead, you’ll find those founder-inspired hand-drawn illustrations, pictures of sports celebrities, and inspiring quotes. The three-floored design, completed by the Rosie Lee Agency, provides a cohesive, playful tone complete with bright orange, red, and blue contrasts.

Color is a great way to set the tone for a space as well as to honor a brand and its founder. What are your office’s true colors? For more information on office design, contact us.

3 Ways to Tackle Loft Design

By | Blog, Renovation Resources

loft-design-3-ways

When looking at loft design, there are a few common challenges that should be considered: How does one deal with the industrial structures? Or how can space be redefined in changing situations? Here are three projects that approach warehouse and loft design in different ways, due to the functional and design needs of each client.

Oriental Warehouse Loft, for duplex-home living: This warehouse-cum-duplex in San Francisco took advantage of the natural wood beams and bare concrete walls to provide a sense of openness throughout the space. With window panels that make up the entire exterior wall, and clear, glass guardrails on the mezzanine allowed for an uninterrupted line-of-sight from upstairs to downstairs. With the mix of contemporary furniture, simple shelving, sleek finishes, and integrated shelving, the loft took advantage of every space and allowed it to flow gracefully throughout the loft. Overall, it allowed for a grand sense of space.

San Francisco warehouse conversion

San Francisco warehouse conversion

WCH 18A, for multi-purpose entertainment: This Hong Kong conversion was done in a former tea storage factory, and was designed to meet the needs of a fluctuating space that would serve as a private art gallery, social space, and weekend getaway. The movable metal-mesh panels helped create less or more space for gatherings that fluctuated in size, while also allowing for various pieces of art to be hung and displayed. The large windows lining the exterior wall, plus the outdoor terrace allows for lots of natural lighting. The design of the renovation took advantage of the warehouse’s structure and materials by integrating and laying bare the hard walls, floors, and metal fixtures. To add softer textures to the industrial features, soft rugs and plush seatings created a comfy atmosphere. Overall, the openness and simplicity to the floor plan allows for easy changes.

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Multi-functional warehouse conversion in Hong Kong

Labahou project, as a creative household: This contemporary loft converted from a historic paper mill in France shows the simple marriage between industrial and rustic designs, in order to produce a peaceful setting for the family inhabiting the space. With the mix of metal structures in contemporary styles (such as the staircase) and natural wood beams, flooring, and furniture, the loft spaces created a nice contrast between natural and industrial, technology and simplicity. In addition, the white, black, and brown color schemes made the rooms brighter and bigger to the eyes. The large windows and multiple entrances to the patios helps facilitate an ease of movement from indoors to outside patios, leaving a peaceful imprint to the entire structure.

Paper Mill warehouse conversion in France

Paper Mill warehouse conversion in France

Finding that intricate balance between industrial and contemporary is one of the challeging, yet creative parts to loft or warehouse design. For more design ideas, contact us.

Picking Designer Furniture at Affordable Prices

By | Blog, Renovation Resources

With any business or company, it’s important to be able to attract and impress clients right as they enter your doors. Designer furniture is one way to do that: the right furniture pieces can present your work (and workplace) as a professional setting. But buying attractive, designer furniture can be daunting, especially for a business trying to keep costs low.

Here are our tips to buying furniture at affordable prices, without cutting out taste and beauty.

1. Pick quality and comfort for lasting function.

A tasteful office, collaborative work zone, or sitting area, is all about marrying function with design. When picking furniture, whether it’s a work table or counter with stools, or couches matched with an elegant coffee table, aim for reliable items with sturdiness and quality workmanship. Some designer pieces, such as moulded plastic seat bar stools, might be trendy yet uncomfortable for employees working long hours at a counter, and might not last long from continuous use. Picking quality pieces–especially for high-traffic areas–will help with reducing upkeep or replacement, keeping furniture costs low overall.

2. Aim for one eye-catching piece, then smartly budget the rest.

One way to help design your office space or waiting area is to pick one luxury piece that stands out in design or value, and have other (cheaper) pieces match or blend into the background. For example, an outstanding antique desk made from walnut paired with simple bookcases and comfortable seats can create a consistent, elegant look without breaking the bank. In addition, focusing on one or a few well-designed pieces can reduce the need for quantity. For example, in larger work spaces, picking quality items that serve more people–such as larger wooden tables with soft seats or upholstered benches–helps reduce the need to buy more furniture pieces.

3. Shop through outlet stores.

When you’re looking for quality furniture pieces in bulk, turn towards furniture outlet stores. When manufacturers offer their own lines to be sold directly to the public in outlet stores, they effectively remove the need for a distributor and retailer. By cutting out the middlemen, the end price you pay is smaller than what you’ll find at a retailer. The outlet store Decor8, for example, offers a great catalog for well-designed, high-quality pieces at a budget-friendly cost. In addition, a few outlet stores (including Decor8) will offer designer furniture as rentals for short-term use, which can be convenient for offices.

No matter what you choose, it’s important to pick your furniture that matches and presents your company’s style, while remaining comfortable and functional for employee and client use. For more advice on office design, contact us.

3 Key Tips to Estimating Construction Cost

By | Blog, Renovation Resources

blog-3-tips-estimate-construction-costWhen starting a new construction project, it’s important to maintain a budget and know the construction cost, from beginning to end. But what components go into the project cost, and what should you keep track of with your designer?

Here are three key considerations for creating and managing your budget.

1. Account for hard costs.

Within a project budget, hard costs cover everything that involves the construction of your project. This can include excavation and demolition, plumbing, electrical, roofing, windows, appliances, painting, lighting, foundation, and more. Each component is necessary for the project to be completed, but you have options when it comes to customizing what you want, and finding designs that work for the project in mind.

2. Account for soft costs.

Construction materials and tasks are not the only expenses in an overall project. Soft costs account for the rest of the project budget that do not fall under construction. They can include permits, taxes, consultant and professional fees, landscaping, even recycling and refuse services. Your contractor or architect will talk to you about these costs, but it’s good to do some research on state laws or ordinances that might apply to your development project. While it’s not always easy to know what soft costs will come up, it’s good to add room in your budget for unexpected costs.

3. Get a description of what a dollar amount means per square foot. 

Typically, you’ll see contractors give the cost of a project as $ per square foot (ex. $200/sq. ft or $300/sq. ft.). As you can imagine, that cost can add up as the size your project grows, but what do you get? Most contractors will say that it equals the total construction cost, including contractor fees, applied to the air-conditioned areas of the project.  When given the option between rates, the difference can mean more detailing or design options at a higher cost. For example, building a brick house at $150/square foot would include a composition shingle roof and wood windows on a slab on grade foundation, while a $200/square foot option can cover steel-framed entry doors, masonry stucco, tile roof, and pier to beam foundation. Again, it’s good to get a description of what each rate brings, and to prioritize your needs and desires to maintain a budget.

When looking at each category, consider your priorities and run a cost-benefit analysis for each one: Ask what options do you have when it comes to design, and track which ones are required or flexible to change. For example, the roof might not be as important as the lighting, so allocate the budget towards lights over roof design.

Whether your project is residential or commercial, making an effort to track and manage your project costs will help you find the best medium between design and functionality. For more information and advice, contact us.

Warehouse Design: Making a Large Space Feel Welcoming

By | Blog, Renovation Resources

warehouse-design-large-spaceWhen considering a functional warehouse design, a number of factors come into play. What is the space going to be used for? How can it be transformed into something that is convenient and comfortable to both the occupants and their visitors? How can a large, empty space be made to feel welcoming?

Here are a few examples of different types of warehouses (from the news as well as our portfolio) along with explanations as to why they work.

Heavybit Industries – San Francisco, California, US

According to a report in Architectural Record, when faced with the dilemma of how to convert a warehouse into a communal space for cloud developers in 2012, CEO James Lindenbaum of Heavybit Industries enlisted the help of IwamotoScott Architecture. Like the name, Lindenbaum wanted a building that looked heavy and serious on the outside, in order to show the world that cloud development is a real thing.

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Heavybit Industries by IwamotoScott Architecture. Photo by Bruce Damonte

Starting with a large open space on the ground level that was totally disconnected from the upper floors, the architects were able to divide that space into a common room with platform seating, as well as a conference room, kitchen, and a bike storage area that was defined by its refined wood wall. Upstairs, walls were removed to create open work stations. Sliding polycarbonate doors let in light. On the top level, breakout space was created using industrial rope and electrical conduit to maintain the heavy image, while providing space between the strands.

Osage Open – Kwun Tong, Hong Kong

In an industrial area of Hong Kong, we sought to create a useful indoor/ outdoor art gallery space for our client, Osage Gallery. We played on the existing concrete textures of the warehouse, incorporating it into the design through the use of a large drifting wooden box that can either be used as a unique art piece all on its own, or a functional element as a step in the gallery.

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Osage Open by openUU.

The passageway was created to provide a fluid connection from the inside to the outside. With the exception of the wooden box, the inside area of this facility features spare white walls and plentiful lighting, ensuring that the focal point of the interior is the art, itself.

Residential Warehouse Conversion – Abbotsford, Victoria, Australia

With converting a commercial warehouse to a residential space, an emphasis was place not only on preserving the original industrial aspects, but also how to transform them into a cozy area. Warm hardwoods were placed alongside existing brick walls. Brightly colored rugs and accents — along with both natural and provided light — add coziness to concrete-floors and high, industrial beams.

warehouse-conversion-in-melbourne-7All three levels of this home — one of several converted warehouses listed and staged by the prestigious realty firm RT Edgar — provide unique features. A courtyard next to the bedroom and study on one floor, an open-plan living and dining space on the next, a master bedroom that takes advantage of the city views on the next.

Warehouses give you ample space for design. The challenge, then, becomes making that space something that feels warm and inviting. For more information on warehouse design or to talk to us about your next project, contact us.

How to Hire an Interior Designer for your Office Renovation

By | Blog, Renovation Resources

blog-hire-designer-office-renovationAre you preparing for an office move or renovation? You know that your office space must create a professional first impression and that hiring an interior designer can help you choose a look that is perfect for your business. So where do you start? Here are some practical tips that will help you hire an interior designer for your office.

Understand what an interior designer will do for you.

Setting clear expectations will help you find the right interior designer for your office project. How much involvement would you like to have in the design process? What does your vision of a perfect office entail? The right designer will spend time with you, discussing the needs of your office and putting together a detailed plan that incorporates these essentials.

The designer will also consider your plans for growth, ensuring that your office can expand with your business. A skilled interior designer listens to your ideas, gains a true understanding of your business and presents options that are customized to meet your expectations. The right interior designer will make your vision a reality in a way that meets your budget and aesthetic expectations.

Set your budget.

It’s imperative that you know how much you’ll have to invest in the project. The right interior designer will help you understand your project costs and plan for additional unexpected expenses. Having a good feel for the numbers going into the project will ensure that you find the right fit. Professional interior designers will help you manage your costs and will use their networks to find you savings.

View their portfolio.

One of the best ways to get a feel for the abilities and style of an interior designer is to view their portfolio. Taking a look at their website is a good start, but taking things a step further and reading reviews and reaching out to former clients can help you make an informed decision.

Once you have a candidate in mind, agree on a schedule and fee that works for both of you. The interior designer will work with you to scope out the work and create a contract that is clear and concise.

If you are ready to move forward with your office project, contact us to discuss the design process.