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.


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.


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.

5 Ideas for a Successful Office Renovation

By Blog, Renovation Resources

blog-5-ideas-office-renovationWhether you’re just moving into an office or your current one is in need of some upkeep, executing a successful office renovation can be tricky business. The good news is that with some forethought and planning, everything can run smoothly and you can enjoy your newly renovated office in a short amount of time.

Here are 5 ideas to help make the process easier:

  1. Clear goals: While your main reason for renovating might be “this office is just too ugly,” you’re going to need to dig deeper when it comes to defining your goals for renovation. Are you renovating the space for you and your employees? Or are you trying to make the space more comfortable for clients? Is your main reason for renovation cosmetic or are their structural changes that need to be made? All of these factors need to be identified ahead of time so that you can create a realistic budget. Make sure everyone involved in the renovation is on the same page when it comes to goal-setting.
  2. Think long-term: You’ve identified your current goals for the renovation, but what is your long-term plan? Do you anticipate staying in this office space for 5 or more years? Does the current renovation give you room to grow as your business grows? If not, will you be able to recoup some of the costs from the renovation?
  3. High-ball your budget: There’s nothing worse in a renovation than coming across an unexpected expense along the way. To make things easier when the expected unexpected comes up, set aside a contingency of 10 percent so that your whole project doesn’t become undone.
  4. Timing: An office renovation is unique in that it impacts a large group of people. You’ll want to make sure your renovation isn’t timed during your office’s busiest season, and you also want to make sure that contractors will be available to get the work done quickly so the project doesn’t drag on longer than necessary.
  5. Identify wants versus needs: It’s tempting to go all-out during a renovation and spring for extras like aerodynamic office chairs or the premier top-of-the-line copier. However, it’s important to stay focused during your renovation and only spend money on things you need, not things you want. You can add in extras like expensive chairs later, once you have enough money to cover those extra costs.

Our design team can help you choose a design for your office renovation that matches your goals and budget. For more information on how we can help, contact us today!

5 Things to Consider Before Starting Up a Restaurant

By Blog, Renovation Resources

blog-openuu-5-things-restaurantOf all the start up business ideas, starting up a restaurant is among the top when it comes to creativity. After all, the sky’s the limit when it comes to your restaurant’s concept, and your menu is as creative and thoughtful as your head chef. If your thinking about starting up a restaurant, here are the top 5 things you need to consider to make sure your restaurant is a success:

  1. Concept: The most important element of your restaurant is the concept. This is one of those areas that appears deceptively easy, but the reality is this requires a lot of thought and research. You want to make sure your concept is going to stand out among your local competition (i.e. avoid starting up an Italian restaurant if there are already an abundance in your area). You also don’t want to fall on the other extreme, which is developing a concept that is too avant-garde or otherwise “out there” that your local clientele just aren’t ready for. Do some research to determine what you can offer that is different from all the restaurants in your area.
  2. Work with a consultant: This goes hand-in-hand with the above step. Rather than take on the task of branding your restaurant yourself, hire a brand consultant to work with you to develop a strategy for branding your business based on your target audience and your goals for your restaurant. You’ll also want to work with a consultant for your interior design because, let’s face it, Your food can be the best in town, but you won’t get people in the door to try it without an inviting interior. Hire a professional interior designer who will work with your vision for your restaurant to develop an inviting design that will match your restaurant’s concept and encourage diners to come in. Designing your restaurant is one step that you shouldn’t take alone. A professional designer will have insight into current trends as well as what doesn’t work so that you can rest assured your restaurant’s design is unique but in line with current trends.
  3. Menu design: When people think of the menu, they often think just about the food on it. But how that food is organized and displayed is important for maintaining your concept. You want to make sure your menu is accessible and that its design makes sense within the concept of your restaurant. This is another step that can benefit from a professional eye who will already know what works and what doesn’t work, saving you time and money in the long run.
  4. Be accessible: Location is extremely important when it comes to opening a restaurant, and your success will largely depend on how easily people can get to your restaurant. It is important to strike a balance between the location (which brings you the foot traffic) and your overall budget. Without a high volume of traffic, your restaurant has little chance of getting people in the door. You also want to be accessible for your guests inside by having tables for large groups as well as tables for two. Your interior designer will work with you to develop an interior that flows while also including enough options for seating a variety of parties.
  5. Work with a head chef you trust and respect: Having unique quality food on the menu is one of the most important aspects of owning a restaurant, so you need to have a head chef that you trust and respect. Your chef will be responsible for overseeing the quality of the food and selecting menu options, so you need to hire someone who you believe will be able to create unique and memorable dishes that will keep people coming back for more.  You also want to hire a chef who you trust won’t cut corners when it comes to food safety and quality control in the kitchen.

For more ideas on what you need to do before you start up your restaurant, contact us today!

5 Tips to Know Before Renovating a Warehouse

By Blog, Renovation Resources

blog-5-tips-warehouseIt’s has become a trend to take old commercial warehouse spaces and repurpose them, such as converting it to loft apartments, restaurants, or office spaces. Before shelling out money to rent or purchase a warehouse space you’ve been eyeing, here are some tips and things to consider.

Purpose. What is the purpose of conversion? Is the current condition fit for the purpose, or will additional work need to be done? The needs from apartments, to restaurants, storage units, to office spaces can vary greatly, and the current condition may require a lot of time, effort, and money to get the unit where you want it to be.

Usage. This bring us to the next question, what type of usage is allowed for the unit. One of the most important things is to understand the zoning, rules and regulations of the building itself. What is included, and what is the owner usage when you rent or purchase the unit you are considering. If you are purchasing, is renting it out ok? If you plan on living in it, is the building fit for a dwelling?

Maintenance. Maintenance and upkeep for short and long term should be considered carefully. You should check how old the building is, and if the drainage system, electrical system needs to be replaced or repaired. If not immediately, then replacing these in the future can become costly.

Safety. In addition to upkeep and maintenance, the unit and building will have safety regulations. Typically there should be fire separation between units, and if new renovation is involved, this should be included in the process.

Renovation. Is there going to be interior design planning and renovation involved? Will you be re-locating the bathroom and plumbing system? Are you adding a kitchen, and is gas allowed in the building or is it even an option? If the building has an older plumbing system or no existing gas pipes, altering them can become costly.

Unless you have a structural engineer working with you, the structure probably cannot be altered. With a bit of design and innovation, the unit’s characteristics, such as raw finished walls, exposed bricks, or door ironmongery, can become a beautiful feature and focal point for the space.

For more ideas on what you need to do before you start your warehouse renovation, contact us today!