Whew! It has been way too long. For good reason, though. So much design goodness has been happening these past few months. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of projects we’ve been working on. It has really been non-stop and trying to balance my regular full-time job with amazing design opportunities has not left me much time for blogging. I am not complaining though – it’s been a great problem to have and I’ve gotten to see what the “design life” will be like once I do it full-time (putting positive vibes out to ya, universe!)!
We are so lucky to have entrepreneurial friends with their own businesses who need help designing their offices. Gordo and Bethany own Axiom Media and had contacted me previously for a design plan in their former office. They didn’t end up staying there and when they signed the lease on a new office space in Chandler, AZ, they contacted me to help.
Beige USA. Beige central. SO. MUCH. BEIGE. Dropped ceilings, old nasty carpet upstairs, a million different paints and finishes… there was a lot going on here, and nothing at the same time. Add tons of fluorescent lighting and you’ve got a recipe for an office that makes you sad to go to work. We were going to totally transform this place! Axiom is a creative business with young, creative people, and the space needed to reflect that.
There was talk about leaving about the ceilings as they were, but seriously, they were 7 feet. That is claustrophobic even for average-height people! The process of taking down the ceiling tiles wasn’t necessarily difficult, but was time-consuming for sure. Once all of the tiles were out, the framing had to be dismantled and pulled down. There was only another foot up to the concrete, but it definitely helped to make the space feel more roomy. Leaving the ductwork exposed created an industrial feel.
The ceiling was kind of a mess but we didn’t want to dump money into moving the duct work or other wiring. There were acoustical tiles that were years old and rather than trying to remove them and the glue, we replaced the broken/missing tiles, and had the painters spray the entire ceiling white. The point of this was to make the ceiling just disappear and not stand out at all.
We had discussed leaving the tile and carpet and just working around them, but ended up deciding to have everything removed. I know that budgets are important to stick to, and I also know the feeling of not completing a design exactly how you want because you’re trying to save money. I almost always regret it. If you’re going to end up eventually making the change anyway, my thought is that you might as well do it the way you want in the beginning. It ends up saving time and money in the long run, and you’re going to end up much happier with the final results!
I knew that the stairs were wooden, but wasn’t sure what kind of shape they would be in after the carpet was removed. These are the kinds of projects that you keep your fingers crossed during, hoping that you’re not opening a big can of worms and taking on a bigger project than you’re planning.
Overall, the stairs were in great shape. There were about 67,908,786 staples/nails in them that had to be pulled out, and then each rise and run had to be sanded smooth with the orbital sander. We didn’t sand all of the green paint and marks off because I liked the character that they gave the stairs.
Dark brown/black stain was applied in two coats and when it (finally) dried, we added one top coat of clear poly specifically made for floors. Make sure not to get a poly that is for furniture as you don’t want your stairs to be slippery.The floors were polished, stained and sealed. We chose a grey stain. You might wonder why a concrete floor would need to be stained grey since concrete is already grey, but there was so much variation in this flooring that staining it grey made everything consistent, covered up existing stains, and gave us a neutral surface to start bringing in other design elements.
All of the main walls downstairs and in the hallway were painted a beautiful, bright white. We chose a deep blue for the slump block wall and painted the upstairs office in Dolphin Fin Grey.
My favorite project by far in the Axiom office was the pallet wall. There is a section of drywall by the stairwell that is bumped out and I knew would be perfect to add some texture/architectural interest too. We had also chosen this area for the conference table so it made sense to anchor it with something visual.
I found a pallet supply company downtown and was able to get scraps from old pallets for FREE and filled up my trunk and backseat. SCORE! Once I got back to the office, I began sorting the wood into pieces that would work just as they were with no staining or painting, and pieces that needed a bit of help.
After I had a good mix of painted/stained and raw wood, I measured out the wall into a taped square on the floor, then laid the pallet pieces into a design. It was important to not have a seam that ran up the entire length and have the colors/widths varied enough to look random, but perfect.
Plywood was nailed into the studs in the wall and then the pallet pieces were added with finishing nails, starting at the bottom and layered in, all the way to the ceiling. The end results was BANANAS. Absolutely beautiful, basically free, and added so much visually to the space.
My other favorite project at Axiom was the stairwell stripe. I felt like we needed some “oomph”… something that was memorable and amazing. I have never painted stripes on a wall, but hey, I googled it once or twice so I could totally do it, right?
I used a yard stick and measured up from the banister 11 inches. I did this all the way down, making small marks as I went along. Then I connected these all and did another line 11 inches above that one. This made sense to me so without too much more thinking, I taped those lines off and painted high gloss black stripes from the bottom of the floor, all the way up the stairwell. The results are so, so cool!
When you look at the pallet wall with the hint of the stripes going up behind it, it makes for such an impact! And that was exactly what I wanted.We painted the banister and the upstairs railing in a high gloss black too, in order to keep everything consistent. We wanted the office itself to be neutral enough that it would compliment the furnishings without taking away from them, but also be a “personality” on their own. I really think this design achieved that!
One of my new favorite things to do is add a little surprise of color on the edge of a doorway. In this case, we did black to compliment the classic white paint. This is a fun little surprise when anyone opens the door.
Being able to collaborate with Gordo and Bethany was so much fun, and something that really helped me to think outside of my own design ideas. They are also extremely handy and willing to put in so much work and do their own projects. Gordo used leftover pallet wood and created what we jokingly called “MEGA DESK”. A cement top and pallet sides came together to form a totally unique, creative and beautiful desk.
This amazing sofa from Walmart is by Novogratz and folds out into a futon! Can you believe that? It’s beautiful and firm and perfect for an office. Not to mention it has such a great shape and is so affordable.
Curtains add softness and texture to the room, and keep any lurkers from peeking into the office at night. They can open these up during the day but keep the white sheers closed to let in the natural light.
You may be thinking, “What kind of design uses IKEA and Walmart?” My kind of design! When there is a budget, when you need accessible, great-looking pieces, there is no reason you shouldn’t use things that work, regardless of where they come from. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever! Design doesn’t have to be crazy expensive or out of reach for anyone.
We had such a great time working on this project and I’m so happy with how everything came out! Looking back at how this office started, it’s kind of hard to believe how much we did and how much the space changed. Thank you to Gordo and Bethany and Axiom Media for letting us into your lives and space and for all of your hard work and collaboration!