The Great Reveal: The TCBN Office Re-do

Last month I outlined the challenge that Traverse City Business News editor Lynda Twardowski Wheatley put to the Lankford Design Group: Help her redo the office she shares with head writer, Lynn Geiger – and do it inexpensively.

After an assessment of her office I identified several key areas that needed attention, including:

A room arrangement that doesn't take advantage of the one window of the room.

– There's no area that allows

Lynda to focus on the project

at hand.

– No visitor seating in the office.

– Nothing is hanging on the walls.

– Lynda needed shelving to hold her

work piles and make space for

organized piling.

Employees considered the office's blue walls institutional. To give the space a fresh feeling we needed to figure out a change in color that wouldn't completely eliminate all of the blue, which is part of the Traverse City Business News' brand identity.

First we tackled a new floor plan – one that would accommodate additional shelving and visitor chairs. When we began, Lynda's desk and Lynn's desk both faced the wall. A door intersected the space between them, making collaborative consultation difficult. Lynda literally had to move her chair back and look around the door to talk with Lynn face to face.

The new plan moves both desks away from the wall and turns them to face each other across the room. This new arrangement allows a couple of important elements to be brought into the workspace. First, it defines the public and private areas of the room. It also provides an area where Lynda can focus on the project at hand and allows for easier collaboration between Lynda and Lynn.

The new layout also makes better use of the room's one window. To regulate light in the room, we've replaced the window's thin and difficult-to-slide curtains with an easily adjustable roller shade.

Another benefit of moving the desks is that we were able to make space on the wall where the desks used to sit. Here we added a second white board – this one painted on the wall with Idea Paint. We were also able to create storage space along these walls, which are the least visible areas of the room – so (unlike before) piles of old TCBN issues and boxes of goods for events and promotional use aren't the first things office visitors see when they enter.

Like most workspaces, this office was filled with furniture that the Business News had acquired over time. Because budget was tight, we kept the existing carpeting, retained one blue wall as an accent wall, and kept the ceiling system and fluorescent lighting. From the office furnishings we kept one desk and the two existing task chairs. From there we worked to unify the look with new pieces. Inspired by the black legs of Lynn's tabletop desk, we suggested a new, much wider and longer desk for Lynda that also featured black legs.

We also added new black visitor's chairs, task lights and – for fun and a punch of color in line with the TCBN brand – orange hanging lanterns along the far wall of the room.

Probably the biggest addition into the room is the shelving. Using inexpensive metal shelving we've added lots of space for Lynda to stash the large variety of projects that she may be working on at any one time. Not only can she pile on these shelves, she can also use a variety of office organizers to segregate special projects. An added bonus: She's finally able to take the piles off her desk and put them somewhere; that should increase her desktop space by 30 to 40 percent.

Of course we couldn't forget Stosh in our redo. Lynda's dog, who accompanies her to work several days a week, is considered a member of the staff, so his comfort is important. In the new design Stosh has a comfy bed stashed right under the shelves behind Lynda's desk. When he arrives, his bed can be pulled out in a snap; when he's gone, it's easily tucked out of sight.

We chose a new color scheme for the room using the blue accent wall and three walls in a warm, neutral tone.

On the accent wall, which is directly across from the entry to the room, we've chosen to extend the publication's brand by reproducing the Talk of the Towns map that leads in to every issue. The other walls provide us great space to feature past issues or photographs used in the Business News or art that reflects Lynn's and Lynda's interests.

Some of the other changes were simple. Along the wall where Lynn's desk used to face, we added some coat hooks. While it's an easy addition, it's one that makes the room much more functional and neat. Before adding the hooks, coats were dropped wherever there was space.

Our goal was to provide an attractive and functional space where Lynda can be proud to invite visitors in for interviews and one where she and Lynn can collaborate easily. Beyond that, we wanted to make sure the space reflected the business. Traverse City Business News is a fast, with-it publication. Now the editor's office space reflects that.