How to Transform a Tiny Room Into a Functioning Office for Three
In this Rhode Island studio, IKEA makes the dream work.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:14 AM
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“I cannot be productive without having a place for everything,” says Roxanne Hanna, the founder of Hanna Creative, a boutique digital marketing and branding agency that specializes in the interiors industry. Staying organized is key to her creative process (her clients range from Ariel Okin to Peter Dunham), and so is the office space she shares with her two employees on the second floor of a Victorian building on a café-dotted street in Providence, Rhode Island. “It just makes it easier for everyone,” she says.
When Hanna decided to go out on her own in 2017 (she was previously at textile and rug company Merida for nearly a decade), she was faced with a common problem: She didn’t have a giant budget to set up her HQ. So she got scrappy and scoured IKEA for chic-looking furniture, sourced artwork from Etsy and Instagram, and tapped a few of her design-minded clients for key pieces. Ahead, she walks us through the decorating decisions that make her workweek a bit more seamless.
Optimize the Layout for Workflow
After painting the formerly drab yellow walls in Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White and the trim in Smoke Embers in a glossy finish, Hanna focused on figuring out a functional layout that would best serve her team. While the beautiful windows let in a ton of natural light and brighten the overall mood in the room, they can be a nuisance when the rays hit a computer screen just so and suddenly you can’t see anything. So Hanna prioritized her graphic designer by positioning her desk against the wall, while she and her social media guru face each other. “We’re constantly going back and forth all day,” she says.
The long wood table against the wall is dedicated to lunch. It’s also a great bonus surface for when they’re working on a brand identity project and need to sprawl out with books and tear-outs from magazines.
Play Musical Chairs
“Navy is a nice foundational color,” says Hanna, which is why she opted for IKEA’s Alex desks. The tables cost only $150, plus there aren’t any bulky cabinets attached to the bottom blocking the view of the room. “That makes the space appear bigger,” she points out.
The white task lamps and two swivel chairs are also from—wait for it—IKEA. Hanna was drawn to the sleek, armless pieces because of the fabric, which she says has a soft, almost flannel-like feel to it. “It’s pretty nice, and I’m a big textile person, so I knew it would do,” she recalls. The other chair is not from a big-box retailer but rather her good friend Joe Lucas, owner of Harbinger & Lucas Studio in Los Angeles. “I thought it would be too boring to have three of the same chairs,” she says.
Shop Your Own Kitchen for Desk Catchalls
Hanna’s favorite holder for thumbtacks and paper clips? Macaroon boxes. “We typically put pens in dishware,” she adds. The colorful packages add some personality to the mix. Hanna corralled some of her smallest containers on a large rattan tray (a Target score) to make it look more put-together.
Give It That Homey Touch
Peppering in storied finds, like the Bolivian rosewood lamp from L’Aviva Home and the floral textile on the wall, helped keep the space from feeling stale. “I wanted something large-scale and organic yet chic, so I partnered with a local framer who stretched it on a canvas, and it came out perfectly,” says Hanna. The vintage credenza from Etsy functions as a filing cabinet of sorts (even though her business is mostly digital). It holds everything from printer ink to silverware, but you’d never know it just by looking at it.
The Technicolor prints on the wall are by Liz Roache, an artist based in Boston who taught alongside Ati Gropius, the daughter of Walter Gropius (aka a founder of the Bauhaus). “Having a bit of color is a nice way to keep us inspired,” says Hanna.
Don’t Overcomplicate Your Storage Setup
The final IKEA find making the dream work is an open bookcase that houses a library of samples, ad campaigns, magazines, etc. Stocking it with white boxes makes everything easy on the eyes, notes Hanna. “We’re constantly deciding on colors and looking at our screens,” she explains. “Having those boxes look streamlined lets the mind rest.” And as we know, when things are clean, the ideas start flowing.
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