Published on January 24, 2019

Whatever your corporate office looks like, you probably wouldn’t describe it as “homey.” Due to the fact that an office needs to be functional above all else, design tends to fall by the wayside, and in reality, this can negatively affect productivity, especially in a creative field.

The Brooklyn office of music supervision company Walker is the exception to the norm. Chock-full of color, texture, and fun artwork, it proves that comfortable, chic design and a functional workspace can coexist.

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Photography by Madeline Tolle

“I always wanted a workspace that felt like an extension of home; I think you should be inspired by your surroundings,” explains Walker’s founder Sara Matarazzo. “If the space feels good, it will allow you to be productive and do your best work.”

To make her vision a reality, Matarazzo tapped Jessica Hansen of Tandem Design. Brought in when the office was less of an office and more of a construction zone, Hansen got a clean slate.

“Personally, I’m feeling inspired more and more by ’70s and ’80s design—I love all the odd proportions,” she says. “We wanted to bring some of that style to the space, mixing patterns, luxe rugs, brass and black, rich leather, and textured wood.”

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The first order of business was getting the desks, tables, and benches (all custom) ordered and out of the way. Then came the layering: a triptych art series by Steven Harrington that mimicked the feel of old-school album covers, a smattering of throw pillows in various prints that bring visual interest to even a gray sofa, an Art Deco–inspired gold bookcase that holds records and awards. The space feels like you’re stepping into the eclectic, vibrant home of your coolest friend and yet it’s still perfectly primed for professionalism.

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According to Hansen, the key to this lies in bringing in what she refers to as “living room spots.” These are groupings of lounge-type furniture and accessories that serve as both a respite from sitting at your desk and a gathering place for informal meetings.

“People spend so much of their time at work that it’s really [their] second home. With the increase in use of laptops at the workplace, employees aren’t tied to their desks anymore. I see people using these living room spots to have meetings or to just put their feet up and work solo,” says Hansen.

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Even with the challenges that come with designing a music studio—the team had to design around sound, so the rooms are configured around electrical outlets—the workspace is a great example of blending the personal with the professional. If you’re looking to replicate the cozy feel in your own office, keep reading for Hansen’s tips. Your most inspiring work environment is a few easy swaps away.

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Blend in

“Treat the office like you would the rest of the house,” recommends Hansen. If you’re in a home office, why should that one room be any different from the rest of your space? Maintain a similar aesthetic throughout to best make your work environment feel cozy. For example, if your house is big on color, bring the same vibrant palette into your office. If your abode is all about ambiance, swap fluorescent desk lamps for softer sconce lighting.

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Camouflage what you can’t get rid of

This tip works just as well in a home office as it does in a corporate setting. “Find ways to hide things that are unsightly, like sticking that printer in a credenza, or incorporating custom filing cabinets to the bottom of a wall shelving unit,” says the designer. Smaller tricks include shoving your most utilitarian tools into neatly organized bins and then keeping them tucked away in your desk drawer—that way, your surface is clutter-free and only decorated with the things you find inspiring.

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Make swaps where possible

If you can, trade in your functional equipment for more design-friendly options. “Buy a beautiful desk chair instead of your standard black plastic one,” says Hansen. If budget or office rules won’t allow for big switches, turn your attention to things like organization bins (try woven or faux-leather options) and a gallery wall of photos or calendars instead of a standard corkboard.

See more inspiring workspaces:
Mastering a Pink Palette and Defeating Winter Hair Woes: Inside the Prose Office

Minimal Meets Millennial in this Trendy NYC Office
The Coolest Orthodontics Office You’ve (Probably) Ever Seen

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