before and after

Before & After: Rachel & Andrew’s SF Office

by Grace Bonney

Today’s second Before & After comes from Rachel Gant and Andrew Deming of Yield Design Co in San Francisco, CA (you might recognize their picnic series with a convertible picnic bag/blanket). Rachel and Andrew made over their studio space in downtown San Francisco using only $500, their own two hands and one week’s time. The final result is such a lovely space. I’m so impressed with how much they did in such a small area- talk about making the most of every inch. These two shared some great details about the entire process after the jump, so read on to hear all about their week of makeover-ing. xo, grace

Time: 7 days

Cost: about $500

Basic Steps: When we found this tiny retail space just two blocks from our home in downtown San Francisco, we of course had hesitations just from the state it was in, but were convinced that we could make it into the perfect spot. At just over 250 square feet, we took on the challenge to refresh this compact, black, textured cave into a an bright office space, work space, and temporary pop-up shop with Scandinavian and Japanese influences. For the front room, we decided this would be our standard work area that can quickly shift into retail mode with as little effort as possible. The walls were previously stuccoed wildly, textured, and painted black along with the floor. The floor was black concrete with an uneven step up to a wooden platform on the left-hand side. We decided we wanted our desk space to be on the left wall so as to make for an clear path from the front door to the back. Keeping an unobstructed entrance in a small space is incredibly important in order to take full advantage of the space you have to work with. For the walls, we decided to visually draw your eye with bright, whitewashed wood walls with planks that led continuously from wall to floor, accentuating the vertical height. We built up bracing underneath the floor to lie even with the existing wooden platform with planks from an ikea-hack: we found it was cheaper to just find and buy the planks that they sell in place of bed box springs at ikea. The siding for the wall and floor were made using pre-grooved pine siding from Home Depot. We treated the pine with WOCA Lye and finished off with a simple whitewash stain from the hardware store. The left wall was covered in white pegboard to give us the freedom to quickly and easily rearrange and repurpose the space as needed, plus it makes a nice pattern. Since our desk would be on the left, the floor needed to be made level with the wooden platform. We try to embrace the existing elements as much as possible, so we purposefully brought contrast to the platform and gave it a nice pop-color of royal blue. We custom made our desk lining the wall from two solid planks of pine finished with a medium stain and natural beeswax + oil orange. The desk was installed using large, sturdy shelf brackets to give it that long, continuous floating effect that again draws your eye along clear lines to help expand our small space. In the back, this would be our workroom and retail storage space. I make a lot of prototypes of all kinds, so a versatile space where I can make a mess and then neatly tuck it away is ideal. The space came with built in shelving and a large desk, both were an eyesore… but that did not scare us from painting them into what would become highly valued, unique pieces. The desk had an interesting storage system on top that looked oddly disconnected in a frankenstein sort of way, but with a pop-orange to match our mail slot on the front door, it purposefully drew the eye into the neat storage as opposed to begging the question as to why it was there in the first place.
We recommend repurposing as much as possible and focusing on only 2-3 main visual elements, not only will it help greatly with cost, but the original pieces in a space that are salvageable only add to the story and evoke inspiration that will in the end make the space breath personality. By focusing on a few bigger moves, the lines will be clear, the space will be coherent, and a natural hierarchy will form creating a simplicity that gives more room to mix and match without becoming too busy. It’s all about balance! — Rachel & Andrew

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