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This LA Startup's Office Features the Lounge Area of Your Dreams

Candace Braun Davison
Photo credit: Becki Smith/Smith House Photo

From House Beautiful

Navy and rust are Ginny Macdonald's secret weapons. At first glance, you may not even realize they're there, but they make all the difference in taking a room from saccharine to sophisticated. For evidence, look no further than her latest project: the Los Angeles offices of Create & Cultivate, an online community and conference designed to help women craft their dream jobs.

Photo credit: Becki Smith/Smith House Photo

Create & Cultivate's known for the peachy-pink backdrop on its website, a color its founder, Jaclyn Johnson, wanted to incorporate into the industrial building's decor—without it veering "dorm room-y." "We wanted to keep the essence of the brand—it's very colorful and energetic—but also have the space feel elevated and sophisticated," Macdonald says. Navy and rust accents did just that, adding a little moodiness and contrast to all of the light, cotton candy-like hues.

With the color palette tightly defined, Ginny could work on the second challenge—one all too common to open floor plan offices everywhere: Those wide open spaces are great for a Dixie Chicks song, but they can feel downright cavernous and cold when you're working.

Macdonald and the Create & Cultivate team didn't want to close things off with cubicles, so the designer started mapping out "zones" to give the space a cozier feel.

"I wanted it to feel like a home away from home, so we created breakout areas with sofas and chairs, so no one feels chained to their desks," she explains. "Rather than feel super stuffy, it's very open and lends itself to collaborative, creative environments."

To truly get a sense of the space, let's break it down room by room.

The Bull Pen

Photo credit: Becki Smith/Smith House Photo

This is where, to quote MTV Cribs, the magic happens. It's a long, galley-like area that features traditional desks for employees to roll up their sleeves and get to work. "The desks follow the linear aspect of the room," Macdonald says, which helps them maximize a narrow space.

The Bull Pen Lounge

Photo credit: Becki Smith/Smith House Photo

To make the open space feel more intimate, Macdonald created a floating lounge, using an oversized rug to anchor and define the area. "All of the furniture we picked had to look good from all angles," since there weren't walls, she adds. "There's a channel-tufted sofa that's tufted on the back—many sofas just ignore the back and don't have any special qualities."

The Blue Cave

Photo credit: Becki Smith/Smith House Photo

Not far from the Bull Pen is what's been affectionately dubbed the "Blue Cave." The corner was already pretty dark, so Macdonald decided to lean into it, rather than fight it, painting it an inky shade of navy. The color ties in to the blue pin boards lining the walls of the Bull Pen nearby, and keep the office from looking Easter-egg pastel.

The Kitchen

Photo credit: Becki Smith/Smith House Photo

Macdonald made budget-friendly updates to the kitchen, like trading in the standard stainless-steel fixtures for brass ones that'd pop against the existing black cabinetry, making the whole unit look more customized. She also added a glass-tile backsplash to elevate the area.

"Glass tile is a lot more reflective than ceramic, and the gloss bounces light," Macdonald says. "If you have a small space without too much natural light, it makes the room appear bigger."

The Bathrooms

Photo credit: Becki Smith/Smith House Photo

"Bathrooms are a great space to be a little more adventurous without making too much of a commitment," Macdonald says. She added gold-and-white geometric wallpaper and upgraded the vanities, mirrors, and sconces, so the space would feel more like a boutique hotel.

The Conference Room

Photo credit: Becki Smith/Smith House Photo

Rather than replace the black carpet that came with the room—"it cost too much to get the concrete polished underneath," Macdonald says—they decided to work with it, layering a large, colorful rug on top of it to liven up the space. Plus, that extra carpeting helps muffle sound, so meetings can get lively without disturbing people outside of the conference room.

Johnson's Office

Photo credit: Becki Smith/Smith House Photo

Since big deals go down in a founder's office, Johnson needed a space that was polished and sophisticated—yet still felt in line with the rest of Create & Cultivate's digs. Macdonald downplayed the pink in this room, and swapped out a traditional desk for a small dining table. "It gives you that desk feel without seeming corporate," she explains. After all, Create & Cultivate's not a regular office; it's a cool office. Macdonald made sure of it.

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