May 23, 2014

The Story Behind a First-Place Office Design

The Story Behind a First-Place Office Design

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Great interior design is what is pleasing and functional for the client. However, when a panel of interior design experts judge your work as the best, it certainly adds to satisfaction for both the designer and the client.

I was thrilled to have just such an experience earlier this month when I was awarded first place in the commercial category of an international interior design competition judged by a panel of U.S. and Canadian interior design journalists.

My entry consisted of the design concept and furnishings for the reception and common areas of the offices of Accurate Solutions Group, LLC, a financial planning and wealth management firm in Butler headed by Curt Knotick.

Whether in a home or office, design should reflect a personality. Curt and his wife, Chris, who also is his business partner, wanted to present a welcoming and professional image without overstatement.  Their preferences were toward a transitional look with clean lines and no clutter – “a less is more” ideal, as she put it.

The firm, named 2013 Financial Advisor of the Year, obtains most of its new business from referrals and seminars, and wants those prospects to feel comfortable when they make their first visit to the office, whether they have large or small financial assets.

Making a more open space for an inviting first impression was the first objective. We wanted visitors to feel that they were in a professional environment with a homey touch to communicate that working with Curt would be easy and comfortable. The original configuration of the offices made for an entrance that was all walls, more like a maze.  We took out the top part of two walls to create more sightlines and visual interest, and completely removed another wall to turn two rooms into one open space for visitors.

For clients who arrive early for their appointment, we also wanted a space that could include a table for signing documents, reviewing paperwork, or having a group discussion.  The space needed to be large enough to accommodate a family, but not overwhelming for only one person

Furnishings and accessories needed to resonate well with a cross section of prospects, older and  younger, and be smaller scale, homey as well as businesslike.

We selected a combination of a small sofa coordinated with chairs that are also suitable for being around a table, which was chosen for its look being appropriate for both an office or a home and the customer’s familiarity with the product line.

Chris wanted all of the walls to be neutral while Curt wanted more color.  A compromise was achieved by painting his office and the waiting/signing area a sage green and the rest of the walls a canvas tan.  New carpeting was installed throughout.

Since the main hallway off the visitor space is long, colorful wall art and a wall hanging of mirror circles create visual and conversational interest.  A classic clothes tree was used instead of a coat rack and a decorative umbrella stand add a little pizzaz, as do the wall hangings in the visitor room and signing area.

While this project is the main common area, we also accessorized another long hallway and are furnishing a larger conference/presentation room, and we assisted with individual office arrangements of furniture brought from the previous location.

The design competition was part of our company’s 30th International Dream Room competition the results of which were announced at our annual conference and supplier market held earlier this month in San Diego. This office design will be featured in an upcoming issue of Arabella, the Canadian magazine of art, architecture and design, and will be displayed at our corporate offices in Easton, Md.

See the top three winners in each category at

MARIE FELTZ owns Decorating Den Interiors of Meadville and is a regional manager for the company. She was one of Pennsylvania’s Top 50 Women in Business in 2005. She has 28 years of experience in interior decorating.

Photography by Bob Napoleton of Butler

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