5 Must-Haves in Every Interior Design Studio

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Fair warning: if you’re a designer, you may walk away from this post with a wee bit of office envy (OK, maybe a lot!). But, you’ll also leave this post with some incredible tips from Reena Sotropa of In House Design Group. Reena is sharing how she and her team designed this stunning space that […]

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Fair warning: if you’re a designer, you may walk away from this post with a wee bit of office envy (OK, maybe a lot!). But, you’ll also leave this post with some incredible tips from Reena Sotropa of In House Design Group. Reena is sharing how she and her team designed this stunning space that suits their needs; a daily working environment that allows them to churn out all the pretty.


Design: In House Design Group | Photography: Phil Crozier

1. Consider Your Storage Requirements

Considering the storage of samples and materials was an integral part of the design process when planning our design studio. The samples we keep in our library come in all shapes and sizes and by their very nature are visually chaotic. We chose to store our samples in a deeper-than-standard storage closet which runs the entire 20+ foot span of the open studio space. Knowing the visual impact that this would create we were very careful to select doors and hardware that was up to the task!

2. Maximize Layout and Presentation Space

Working with finishes and laying out samples is a daily part of what we do. Not only do we need the space to work with samples that are sometimes large, heavy and awkward to handle; we often have more than one option to consider or multiple projects on the go at the same time. Our double islands have been an absolute God-send to our design team, giving us the space and sometimes the separation we need to keep the sample selections organized. The white quartz countertops are very hardy and the perfect neutral surface for our designers to work on. We custom designed the drawers of the island to accommodate heavy countertop, wood and tile samples, keeping them tidy and organized.

3. Make the Most of Your Natural Light

The quality and control of natural light is very important when considering the layout of a design office. We would have loved for every space to have exposure to natural light, but it really is essential that the studio, where we work with colours and materials has the most access to natural light. The floor to ceiling windows were certainly a very enticing feature of this space and we all love working in the clear even light. That being said, we have a south-west exposure and in Calgary where we average 333 days of sunshine in a year there are some days and times of the year that the natural light can be too much of a good thing! It is therefore very important to not only consider the natural light, but also how you are going to control it.

4. Go Neutral – Be Aware of How Your Space May Impact Your Perceptions

The nature of our work dictates that our environment and workspaces should be a blank canvas. The broad expanse of dark floors, white walls and countertop surfaces and the absence of pattern in our studio was a very deliberate design decision. The environment where we work and make colour and material selections must be extremely neutral so as not to impact the way we see and judge colour. Even the slightest undertone can significantly impact our perceptions so we were very careful to avoid this potential pitfall.

5. Let Your Space be a Reflection of You

Our studio is located in a commercial building with all the necessary but sometimes “not-so-pretty” safety features and prominent exposed mechanical and electrical components in the ceiling space. We are a design firm that specializes in residential interiors and so it was important for us to not only create an atmosphere that is aesthetically pleasing but also as a showcase of what we can do in a residential environment. We met the challenge of creating a warm, inviting residential-style atmosphere within a raw commercial space using the same principles that we approach every project.

First, we took great pains to ensure the functional requirements necessary to work successfully in our space were taken care of. We then turned our sights onto the aesthetics of the space, analyzing how each space or zone within the studio would function. This analytical process helped us to make aesthetic decisions throughout the space that would not only support the work we do, but also enhance and shape our clients’ impressions of what we can do for them within a residential environment.

An example of a very deliberate design decision was our choice to construct a drywall ceiling in the meeting room and lounge area. In doing so, the space feels slightly more formal than the bright adjacent spaces. The lowered ceiling height and the decorative lighting and lamps further contribute to the warm, cozy feeling of the space. The decision to separate this space with glass pocket doors gives our clients a peek into the bright, light-filled studio space with the soaring ceilings further accentuating the residential feel of the space they are in.


Design: In House Design Group | Photography: Phil Crozier

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