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An Office Reveal That Happens To Be A Full-On EHD Alum Family Affair…

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. 

How amazing is this print in Remi’s office nook! The chairs are from France and Sons. 

We also put this cool one I think looks like a whale by the entrance. The floating cabinet is from Bludot. 

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

Design by Melanie Burstin Design | Photos by Tessa Neustadt


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34 thoughts on “An Office Reveal That Happens To Be A Full-On EHD Alum Family Affair…

    1. Yes, me too!! Fantastic episode of a fantastic podcast. If you enjoy that show, I also highly recommend “Spectacular Failures” which just started its second season 🙂

  1. What a clean looking work space and I really like the simple white paint with the mid century chairs…..I would find this a wonderful enviroment to work in🖤

  2. I’d also be really careful about throwing terms around like “Japanese Industrial” and “Japanese Camping Chic” without anything substantive to back then up. It feels like a super generic appropriation of – I don’t even know – minimalism?

    1. I came to the comments to say the same thing. This is a truly lovely space, and Japan has some lovely spaces, but please don’t throw the “Japanese” label at anything with clean lines and rich wood tones. There’s a deep culture and history to Japan and there’s no apparent connection between that and this space.

      1. When you say there’s no apparent connection, isn’t that just your opinion? I see the connection.

    2. I, on the other hand, understood exactly what she meant and quite liked the way she defined the style. Great job Mel, gorgeous place and fun witing as always!

    3. In the cultural appropriation InstaLive I linked in Sunday’s post, Malene said a great place to start is to credit the country where your design inspiration comes from. At least that’s how I understood it. Mel has always been inspired by Japanese, minimalist design, so by calling it out and not pretending she came up with the look all on her own without talking about her inspiration feels more like cultural appropriation. This conversation is absolutely ongoing and we are all still learning.

      1. The work to credit inspiration is great! And thank you for responding. With your response in mind, consider the difference between “Japanese Camping Chic” and “Japan inspired Camping Chic”. It’s the difference between claiming provenance and crediting inspiration. It’s possibly a nitpick, but possibly clarifies the intent.

        1. Geez, I dunno… calling it “going out for China food” or making “Mexico street corn” ??????? Is this the new politically correct? I’ve been doing lots of anti racist reading and haven’t come across this one.

  3. Very calm and pleasing to look at, but a white sofa in an office? I’d be terrified to spill something on it.

  4. Ok but this looks like absolute hell to work in. The desks seem oddly small. At least for myself, I typically write things down to help remember and there’s no space for that at all or for papers or lunch or phone chargers or anything that might need to be set down. Hooks for purses or bags or coats? Also who is working in the KITCHEN with their backs to the stairs? This would drive me insane. Is this a job where you’re not supposed to spend a lot of time sitting at your desk?

    1. I agree with you! and no space at all for personal storage at the desks – not even a filing cabinet! I think it’s a really visually beautiful space, but I don’t think it would be fun to work in that office. Where does the water for the coffee come from if there’s no sink in the kitchenette and how to do you rinse out your mug? The bathroom????

      I normally try not to be critical, but it just doesn’t really make sense to me….

    2. Totally agree. Making savings on the desks and chairs so you can have nice accessories is NOT what provision of workspaces for your team members should be about. The MOST important thing is that the desk space is correctly set up for health, safety, comfort and productivity. Dare I say it: humanity?! I’m sure each team member would love the sort of desk Remi made sure she had. If you can’t provide those things alongside aesthetics then it’s just a bad job.

    3. To defend Mel, unless you work in an office that revolves around paper, I never once needed my filing cabinet, And despite have a dining table sized desk, I only ever used a small portion of it. The extra space ended up being a place to dump random items. Every office and company is different and has different needs, but Mel is a very conscientious designer and likely talked through all of this with Remi.

      1. I guess. I work for the government and my cube is admittedly very ugly but I spend all my time sitting at my desk on the computer and it is ergonomically designed for that purpose and we have ergonomic consultants, etc. I kind of miss it even though my set up at home is much more aesthetically pleasing. While this is a very pretty set up it doesn’t seem particularly designed for the comfort of its eventual occupants. Which is why I asked if this is a job where people aren’t meant to be sitting all the time. I could understand these desks if you are up and about and checking inventory or going to a lot of meetings and only sitting for a few minutes at a time.

  5. Yes, PLEASE. Japanese Industrial Camping Aesthetic is exactly my vibe these days, although I’ve been calling it variations on “warm Cold War minimalist plus wood.” I’ll take everything.

  6. Just a heads-up, since it’s a common mistake on this site: The word you want is palette, not pallet. It’s worth checking out the meanings of each.
    Also, I LOVE Mel’s work–she’s amazing! Thanks for posting it; I hope you post more!

  7. My childhood home had the same coffee table but in a different stain…it never looked as cool as it does here!

    I have to say I would really want a sink in the kitchenette if I worked in that office.

  8. Overall I really enjoy the vibe. I gotta say nothing drives me more nuts than specifically calling out a design feature (thin wood frame window) and getting zero pictures of it! Why you gotta do that to us? I also wish we got more info and detailed pictures of the curtain separating her office space.

  9. Where are all the computer cords? That is something I’ve been struggling with in my home office.

  10. It’s very serene looking (although maybe only without people working in it? where do they stash their bags? their stuff?), but mostly it makes me see just how much COVID has affected my design sense. All I see when I look at those desks is that people will be breathing right at each other (watching TV is the same way: look at those people shaking hands with strangers! going out to a bar!).

  11. These would be my highest priorities when thinking about a minimal and functional office space:

    – Coat closet, not hooks – keep things out of sight. Make sure it has enough room that coats can have air circulation, especially if you live someplace rainy.
    – High quality chairs, so nobody feels the need to replace them or add ergonomic aids like lumbar pillows. Good seated posture is so important for physical health.
    – Sturdy sit-to-stand desks – again, really important for physical health, and there are actually nice looking ones these days.
    – Flexible cable management, aka NOT zip ties, because the minute you have to rearrange cords you’ll hate yourself and things will never be as tidy as they once were.
    – Slim file cabinets under each desk, ideally with a lock so people can secure personal belongings (especially if your office is accessible from the street like this one).

    This office space is really cute but I am concerned that they have invested in pencil cups and artwork rather than the functional items that will really affect the day-to-day lives of the employees.

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