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3 Ways to Tackle Loft Design


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.


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

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

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

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

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.