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Before & After: How a Design Refresh Can Make an Office Feel New Again

By Shay Hughes

Office design has an enormous impact on company culture, team morale and the overall energy of the space, which is why we put so much thought into the design and décor of our own homes away from home. From the selection of each piece of furniture, to the vibrant art hanging on our walls, to the playful décor that can be found around every turn, every detail matters when cultivating spaces to inspire our teams and leave lasting impressions on our clients!

While we go to great lengths to maintain our beautiful offices, I was longing to give them a bit of a refresh to renew our mindsets, spark creativity and keep everything feeling new and inspiring! After brainstorming about potential new looks, sourcing new materials that would work well with our existing art and furnishings and ensuring a cohesive, unique vibe for each office, we’re excited to share with you not only the end result, but some tips for doing this yourself if you’re interested in giving it a try!

Embrace the Power of Slipcovers & Pillow Shams

We have always loved our plush, comfy couches, so instead of the unnecessary investment of purchasing all new furniture, we simply bought new slipcovers for our existing couches and recovered a few of our upholstered pieces with new fabrics. By covering our couches with new vibrant, jewel toned velvet slipcovers, the vibes of our living rooms were instantly updated and dramatically transformed! We also added new pillows and shams to complement our revitalized looks, while adding an extra layer of welcoming comfort for our visitors. Colorful new fabrics alone were a key element to the transformation of our living rooms, and an easy way for any business to refresh their space!

Illuminate with New Light Fixtures

We love incorporating unique lighting⁠—like neon signage, chandeliers, sconces and spotlights⁠—into our spaces wherever possible! By swapping out our glittering glass-beaded chandeliers over our family farm table at our headquarters with bold, brass fixtures, we were able to transform the feel of our headquarters, cultivating a more regal look that is unique to our San Diego office. In our other offices, we replaced older light fixtures with more modern designs from Circa Lighting, Lambert and Fils, Kate Spade and Rejuvenation, giving the spaces an immediate update. What’s great about changing out existing lights is that you can spend your budget on new fixtures themselves, and don’t need to spend extra dollars on wiring when it is already in place.

Incorporate a Focal Point of Bright, Inspiring Books

Fun coffee table books have always been a signature element of our décor throughout our offices. When we set out to revitalize the built-in bookshelves at our headquarters, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to inject vibrant pops of color that incorporate the beautiful rainbow of elements from our surrounding art pieces, and also double as a library jam-packed with fun and inspiration for our team!

The end result was a colorfully pleasing new focal point, displaying hundreds of hardcover books and fun knick-knacks. Our new library is home to a variety of topics, from travel books on Iceland, Greece and Tuscany, to hobby books on electric guitars, floral and interior design, to even the most whimsical topics: Harry Potter, impressionist art and the power of sprinkles! This is definitely one of the most achievable refresh projects for any office, which can be based on color or book topic!

Whether it’s bringing together the bright blue and emerald green velvet couches in our Orange County office, or complementing the soft pink, creams and muted gray in our Downtown San Francisco office, using books to play off of and unite fabric choices and art is an easy and affordable design tip that anyone can employ.

Spark Imagination with Bold & Fun Art

We make a point to have fun eye-catching art on display in every office, and we are always looking to add more to our collections. Changing up the look could be as simple as rearranging pieces, or replacing prints to form a fun, fresh gallery wall!

In our recent office refresh, we purchased a few new pieces for key areas like conference rooms and open spaces, and then moved existing art from one office to another where it would feel new again.

The latest art in our collection includes bright and happy prints by Gray Malin, whimsical and dramatic photography by Greg Lotus, playful multimedia sculptures by Gary Polonsky, and colorful paintings by Ryan Jones and James Wolanin.

A tradition in every office is our family photo wall, where we arrange simple Pottery Barn frames, showcasing black and white photos of our team’s families, friends and pups too, as a reminder of what motivates us throughout the day. For us, that is taking care of our families, and our Core Value #4, embrace the family spirit. By incorporating a mix of color, fun subjects and whatever is most near and dear to your team’s heart (for us, that’s our families), any company can add interest and spark creativity in their workspace!

We thoroughly enjoyed every step of our refresh process, and we hope you’re inspired, too! For any company looking to freshen up the look of a space, it’s amazing what can be achieved by adding new light fixtures, cultivating a new focal point and having fun with new fabrics to make an office feel fresh and exciting again!

Shay Hughes is president, COO, and owner of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company specializing in tenant representation and building purchases with offices across the nation. Shay writes about business leadership and company culture on her blog, Lead from Within. Contact Shay at 1-844-662-6635 or shay@hughesmarino.com to learn more.



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