Hi EHD world, it’s me Mel of Melanie Burstin Design. Remember me? A few years ago I was designing with Emily and ever since have popped in and out of the blog to show you some cute stuff (here is a tour of my home). Well, the time has arrived for more cute stuff! Today’s reveal is a project near and dear to my heart because it’s a space I designed for one of my best friends and amazingly enough, it’s a friend I wouldn’t have without Emily (more on that shortly). The project I’m about to share is… an office. Do you remember office spaces? I can’t deny this is a strange time to share when most of us are working from home or have lost work, but I hope this tour is enjoyable and perhaps the only time in our lives we’ll actually want to see an office and fantasize about working there. I hope you’re all safe, and man I cannot wait for this pandemic to end! I digress…
Before I show you the amazing photos and the cute vignettes you can translate into your own homes, I’d love to share my ‘meet cute’ with the aforementioned bestie/client/boss-CEO who hired me for this space. This is a story I tell often, it’s how Remi (founder and CEO of Freck Beauty) and I became best friends. The story usually starts over a drink at a bar (also remember those?) and I start by saying, ‘we were both interviewing for the same job, and they couldn’t decide between us, so they hired us both!’ Perhaps you’d think this would spawn a rivalry instead of a friendship, but EHD is an awesome place to work and this ended up being the perfect solution for everyone. While interviewing both Remi and I mentioned wanting to work slightly under full time as we had our own side hustles; I wanted to maintain having personal clients and Remi was building a mega beauty brand. (Both kinda turned out super well huh?). We also had pretty different skill sets and Remi worked more with Emily and I spent most of my time with Ginny (another EHD alum I looove). Pretty soon, we were all really good friends and apparently I could go on and on about the amazing people I met at my time at EHD but I’ll just say one more… guess who shot these photos? My dear friend Tessa Neustadt! This project really was an EHD alumni family affair and I can’t wait to share it with you…
Ladies and Gentlemen, here we have the main working area, or the ‘bullpen’ so to speak. We began with an empty commercial building in the LA neighborhood of Atwater Village with a lot of light but not enough storage. Freck’s headquarters needed to have desk space for their super cool staff but also needed to be able to store a fair amount of product and supplies, so more storage was at the top of Remi’s wish list. We discussed all of our options from building new walls, to storage systems, to putting up a curtain on a rod. I’d say this storage solution is the ‘curtain on a rod’s older, cooler, and more sophisticated sister’. Freck considers their brand “an attitude” for anyone who cares about the process but not about the rules- so it was really important for the space to reflect those qualities. I wanted the design to feel chic and cool, while also inviting, and comfortable. This DIY curtain I designed and Remi built with her own hands embodies all of these qualities.
As you can tell the space is super open and airy and as a boss lady of the 21st century, Remi’s next request was a space where she could have a little privacy to focus but that wouldn’t separate her too much from her team. So here’s Remi’s office nook:
We grounded the area with a vintage desk and a pair of chairs that could easily be pulled up for a quick chat. I also had my friend Zilah of Plants and Spaces install incredible greenery for me throughout the office. I’ve really come to rely on Zilah for all my projects. I used to think I could go into florals if design didn’t work out, but then I realized I don’t really have the greenest of thumbs. So now, I get to collaborate and it’s the best. I send Zilah inspiration images (almost always sparse trees from Japanese interior design magazines), she shops her insider nurseries, installs the plants, and then explains to my clients how to keep everything alive. I think we’ve got a foolproof system down at this point. I guess one theme of this office is young boss women helping young boss women and I love it.
In Remi’s office space you’ll also see one of my favorite pieces of art of all time. The piece is by Misato Suzuki and in it she uses pencil and coffee grounds to achieve the most serene piece of art I’ve ever seen. I understand this is a lot of hyperbole but I really do love her work. I found her through Uprise Art which is one of my go-to online art galleries for when I’m curating and sourcing for my projects. They have a lot of work that’s accessible and affordable. I live in both camps of being a lover of prints and a lover of hanging original art, and Uprise has both.
The next area I want to discuss is the lounge. I’m personally a work-from-the-sofa kind of girl so a place for Freck’s employees to have a more casual area felt necessary. One of the first things we did to the space was install massive Noguchi pendants to add some visual interest since the ceilings are amazingly lofty. And of course, next came more art. This painting was commissioned from another dear friend of mine Wyatt Carroll who is an amazing graphic designer and illustrator. We were down to the wire, and needed a massive piece of art so Remi and I were considering DIY-ing one ourselves. Thankfully I had a stroke of genius and realized an illustrator would DIY something much better than we would. So I showed Wyatt an inspiration deck of paintings I liked, paintings I didn’t like, what I felt was derivative and then our design mockups so he could know the color pallet. One week later he provided 6 digital renderings, we chose our favorite and then he painted! I think he’s considering selling those Wyatt Carroll x Freck prints so I’ll nudge him to see if we can make it happen. He really captured the essence we were after; something unique, something vaguely spacey (Freck has an incredible space-themed eyeshadow pallet so aliens are on aesthetic), and something neutral and yet bold. His ability to capture so many contradictory ideas is pretty impressive!
To make this lounge as cozy as possible we layered more plants, a simple rug, vintage coffee table, and of course, we scoured Article for the perfect sofa. The space was a little tight and time was of the essence but luckily Article had the Beta modular sofa in stock; a sofa that’s contemporary, chic, and fit our spatial needs. One of my favorite things about Article is that they are reliable. I’ve been encountering so many delays lately so it was amazing that Article actually had the sofa ready to ship and it arrived and was unboxed easily and on time. It’s also super comfortable!
Let’s move on to the bathroom. One of my favorite things about Remi is that she’s really game for anything. This bathroom is filled with DIYs and I think that’s what makes it so special. I’m more of a ‘hire an expert kind of girl’ but we pulled up our bootstraps and really made it all happen. How cool is this vanity situation? It all started with a table I found for under $200 on Offer Up, and a sink and faucet from Wayfair. With the help of my handyman, we turned the desk into a vanity all while keeping the side drawers functional for storing some of those necessary bathroom accessories. We fell in love with this light from Schoolhouse Electric, a vase from my friend Blake Beaudette, and this super minimal yet fabulous towel rack to tie it all together.
I would be remiss to talk about the design of this bathroom without mentioning the incredible walls that serve as the backdrop. One of my favorite design tricks to make a space cozier and more inviting is to limewash paint the walls. My favorite limewash brand is by far Portola Paints as it’s a toss-up of whether the customer service or the product is better (because both are amazing). Their paints are made locally in LA and though it takes a little technique to apply, anyone can do it, and anyone can improve their space twenty fold just by doing so. FYI, I almost always end up using the same color, it’s Eastwood. I can’t help it if it’s perfect! All it takes is a primer and a crosshatch brush stroke (there are tons of youtube videos) and suddenly any room can have depth and texture. I highly recommend it.
Look at how cute some of Freck’s products look in front of the limewash! I personally use So Jelly eye cream and Cactus Water every morning. No one has asked but here I am sharing! I also love the Lid Lick in green for a night on the town but I have not been social in months so that’s sadly not in use right now though I’m sure it would look great for a Zoom call.
Okay, Let’s go upstairs shall we? This is Remi’s favorite photo from the shoot, which I find hilarious, but it is a really beautiful shot and Tessa is very talented. The stairs and second floor were covered in a black carpet that Remi ripped up herself, she then sanded the floors and painted it all. She got a little tired and ended up having some help but she definitely took on more than I ever would. Perhaps the photo means even more to her because of all her hard work?
On the second floor, we have the kitchenette area and the conference room.
I’ve really been into an aesthetic lately that I can only call Japanese Industrial? Or Japanese Camping Chic? I love the idea of a space that feels really simple, has a vaguely vintage feel, and yet is still warm and inviting. I thought a workbench would be the perfect kitchen surface since we didn’t need to go full kitchen and were not adding a sink nor any major appliances. I fell in love with a really affordable one from Home Depot that friends of mine have, but unfortunately California law (I think the preventative cancer ones? which is obviously important) prohibited it from being delivered. So we found someone on Craigslist to make a similar version for almost as cheap.
Next up is what Remi and I have privately (and now publicly) coined the “bucktooth curtain”. We needed a way to hide the less aesthetically beautiful, but super necessary kitchen tools so I thought a romantic under counter skirt would be the answer. I found an Etsy shop called Erin Langland Decor who has the prettiest linen cupboard curtains and ordered away. We installed them and perhaps it was that we had been working for 10 hours that day, or perhaps we are just insane people, but something wasn’t right. The curtains Erin sells are really beautiful and perfectly hemmed, so we decided on a gut instinct to ruin them! We did a raw hem and were surprisingly pleased with the outcome. Now our buck-tooth curtains provide some concealing of mess and are also soft without being too romantic for this exact project.
The conference room is maybe my favorite area of the whole office and definitely plays on the Japanese Industrial Camping aesthetic I mentioned earlier. We added a window to gain some more light and insisted on a thin wood frame. The dining table and chairs are some of my favorite pieces and I honestly struggle to not suggest them again for every project I’m working on. The Aldus table is from Skagerak. This company has so much cute stuff. I purchased a planter from them a few years ago and pretty much want everything on their site.
The chairs are from one of my favorite stores Finnish Design Shop. They carry so many amazing brands and designers and it’s always really easy to ship with them whereas otherwise receiving goods from Europe can be a pain. I source stuff from them for every project. The pendant is from a Brooklyn based studio called In Common With that has such beautiful lamps.
Remi and her business partner Des, do a lot of conference calls, social media takeovers and so many other on-camera experiences that I knew I needed to create a cute backdrop area for them. The conference room already had a soffit that felt like a platform so I styled more product, more plants, and of course more art! This poster is from Poster Club Official, another one of my go-to sources for art. We used a lot of their posters throughout the office; they’re so chic and affordable.
This poster (also from Poster Club) lives over a bay of desks. We went really budget on the chairs and desks so we could have lots of fun accessories. The chairs are really comfortable and look great in person but the desks can get a bit wonky. If you’re okay tightening them every few months they’re totally worth avoiding a splurge. To create a minimalist desk look, the desk accessories included pencil cup holders from Blake Beaduette and then other fun neutral-toned bits from Etsy that are either vintage or no longer available, unfortunately. But Etsy is amazing and there’s always more to be found.
And lastly, the framed photo is actually the only thing Remi already owned that she brought into the office. She purchased it off the wall at a Monster Children photography show and it’s always had sentimental meaning because Freck was the first realistic temporary freckle makeup in the game! The first time I tried out their Freck OG product I sent photos to my other friend and they immediately asked me to bring it the next time I saw them so they could try it. So yeah, Freck started out with Freckles, hence the name!
Thank you so much for joining me on this project reveal that is near and dear to my heart. I hope you enjoyed it! And I hope you found some ideas to introduce into your own WFH setups. I know there are some warnings against working with friends, but for me, I can definitely say it was a dream. Thank you Remi for being a dream client and pretty much saying ‘Ok’ to every crazy idea I had, and thank you Emily for having me on the blog today and for introducing me to so many of my favorite people! I hope you all stay safe out there and comment below, and message me and follow along on Instagram if you have more questions or want to see some pictures I couldn’t fit on this enormous blog post. XOXO-Mel