Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Traditional Office Design Goes Modern

Moving.  We have all survived a move or two.  The comedian George Carlin and his "Stuff" commentary comes to my mind for coping with items that need to GO.  This happens when a home is moved, and it happens to businesses.

An office compares to a home in that each have stuff to save, use & protect.

Both are"...a pile of stuff with a cover on it."George Carlin "All your house is..."

My client is an Insurance Agency first established in 1886 in Portland, Oregon.  One or two moves in downtown Portland until 1983 when the 7th floor wood paneled American Bank Building was left behind for a soon to be booming suburban city center.

At the first of this year, a move within the suburban town was necessary to make room for continued success and the growing number of employees.  Who, of course, each come to work with their personal stuff and are responsible for a section of company stuff.  For example, each employee needs a locking file cabinet for client information.  The book keeper needs many locking file cabinets.

How to design within the client description of modern, open concept, nontraditional, "mad men" essence?  (AND a tight, tight budget?)

Solution to display a collection of Historic Office Stuff - Ikea Expedit (2 units)

George Carlin on other peoples stuff:
 "Their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff."

With only 4 President Owners in 100+ years, office equipment made obsolete by time has grown into a treasured collection of historic significance.  Displayed thoughtfully, this stuff remains important and not stuff that is s*#t.

100+ year old cast iron scale decorated
with pretty hand painted roses.
Used for letter postage
(my sister's first job in the '70's)

Insurance agents need to document - what a cool camera!

Rubber contract stamps (ie: paid, due, etc..) are gathered
in a glass vase.

There's one "mad men" style adding machine!

Faux Floral designed to soften
the Ikea esthetic.

Reception - Before a counter and desk were "created"- see Ikea Hack below.

The tired vintage 1980 street level office is a distant memory....
.... now that they have a
tree top 2nd floor corner suite overlooking the lake promenade!
 (a bit of commercial property heaven in Tualatin, Oregon)

Clients old Conference Chair
too tall, too wide, too black
8 crowded the old 7ft table
and absorbed the natural light 
New-ish "Dauphin" Conference Chair
Fine lines, pattern, reflective chrome
$70 each on Craigslist
(current retail $900)
Photo on the right shows the clients existing console (to be replaced by custom storage when budget allows).
TIP: I cleaned up the scratches from moving, with a black Sharpie felt pen.

New Look:  The pussy willow stems are silk shown in a vase from Cost Plus World Market.

Craigslist 8ft conference table $350
"buying" time until a raw edge timber slab table is budgeted. 

The clients existing chairs, plant, and basket lamp table.
Encouraged my client to bring in the coffee table and side table
from his home basement storage.
The side table (above) was in terrible shape
until a rub down with Howards!

Promises have been made that the plastic ficus is on it's way out!

(I had left it in the discard pile during my visit. "other people's stuff!")

The World Market glass table lamp (above right) has been replaced by this Pier 1 floor lamp.

"Metropol" Floor lamp from Pier1
Painting from World Market
Antique Waste Basket as planter from client archives.
It is a survivor of an early 1900's flood in Portland and
a flood in the early 2000's in Tualatin, Oregon.
I love this history!

Close-up of the waste basket now used as
a planter (see photo left)

View from "bull pen" with kitchen door on the left.

Original artwork (by our niece Marissa) on the floor, is now hanging on that small wall.

I attempted to purchase this wood assemblage months ago when I discovered it at my sister's home (her career is with this agency).  My sister and brother-in-law retain ownership and have agreed to hang it "on loan".

For now, as this is "stuff" I want! 

see more of niece Marissa's artwork   here

Ikea "Galant" locking storage
World Market painting

Fabulous faux ficus
from the wholesale florist supply

Our Ikea Hack Moment:

Take two Billy Bookcases with doors
(install the back panels good side out)

Back it up against a Malm desk

And top the Billy "counter" with
1/2" custom glass

This took more than the average effort from my client!

He was more than happy to do all the work of building his Ikea purchases, as this made his goal of Zero Budget (jk) nearly attainable!

Invaluable FREE labor from Miller Insurance office personnel (who also recommended me for this job),
my sister, brother-in-law, nieces & nephew and Mom who has the entree to the wholesale florist (she also gifted our purchases), was my driver and creative right hand.  xoxo  :-)

Thanks to Ikea for affordable modern desks (there are 6 in the open plan "bull pen") & cabinetry;  Scott at Metro Office Supply in Portland (14325 N.E Airport Way & Craigslist) for beautiful used office chairs & file cabinets; Pinterest for opening their private design board option at just the right time!

Special THANK YOU to my little brother (company President #4) in giving me this opportunity to practice my online, email, telephone design services.  WOW S*#T have I learned a lot.  

Cheers!  Linda   :-)


  1. This should be on Ikea hacker!

    The space looks so calm and organised and a nice place to work in :)

    1. N. - Thanks for saying so. I love "Hacker"!

      Cheers :-)

  2. I love it Linda. I think offices are the hardest thing ever to do as they always look so generic. This one looks fresh and tidy and open and with interesting little snippets in every corner and a softness with those wonderful Dauphin chairs - love also that colour on the wall. Well done you, they are lucky ducks in that office.

    1. Jodi - Wish I could take credit for the color choices as they were one of 5 different packages (including carpet and lino) from the landlords designer. I was able to help id which package to go with and which walls should have one of the 3 colors used in the overall design plan. (I am a great advisor/space planner/product sourcer-er)
      This office will be featured again. We are looking forward to the budget allowing for upgrading some of the furniture and adding elements for storage needs.

      Always fabu to hear from you!

  3. The space is a pure joy, of peace and calmness to work in. We pinch ourselves that Linda said "yes" and stayed the course through the mountainous journey of what it is today, and will continue to be in the future. The "phases" that we loving call 1, 2, 3, etc. #1 has been like giving birth. New and old clients alike marvel at the space, walk in as if it were (or wished it was) their space. They all celebrate along with us...Linda has taken our varied design ideas, communication inadequacies, budgetary hurdles towards a direction we all honor and are proud of. We say with pride when asked "who did this?", "Linda Peterson our Designer, who currently lives in S.C.". :) Thanks, Seastor

  4. Lovely space and great photos!!

    1. A.L. - Had to visit your blog as the name is purrrrfect! Thank you so much for visiting AND commenting.
      Please let me know how you happened to find me - my marketing instincts are piqued. :-)


  5. Linda, This was really fun. I loved how you did this. Your brother is so fortunate to have a talented sis. You had so many fresh and bright spots throughout. I especially loved the long open bookcase and the little historic relics left over from the past eras. Very cool and shows the company has been in business for a long time! I think it was genius how you used the Malm desk with the other shelf to make a reception. I may have to steal some of your ideas. My husband is in a start-up and I already helped design his space with Ikea things. It's really a good source.

    Always love reading all you ideas!


    1. Kim - Genius?! (blush, wink) Thank you.

      Ikea must be mixed with vintage or new "warm" elements so your space does not end up looking like an Ikea Showroom. I have been sourcing for so many months now, let me know if I can be any help to you.

      Sharing is not "stealing" as sharing elevates everyone's designs. :-)


  6. The ideal office should be comfortable and safe, functional and attractive, with everything in its optimum place for maximum productivity and ease of use.

    1. Danz - You are precisely correct. This client has attractive at the end of his "needs" list. Thankfully, he didn't wait too long to bring me in as there were esthetic elements to combine with functional decisions as soon as they began buying new furnishings.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. I look forward to hearing from you again!


Hello! Your comments are the interaction I look forward to while writing my posts.
Cheers! Linda


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...