Five years ago, Georgia Institute of Technology alumni and friends Greg Goodson, JR Patten, and Justin Ratner were running their startup, online giveaway site Rafflecopter, out of a 300-square-foot basement office in Boulder—and the Ramen-stocked apartment they all shared. So when the venture’s relative success meant Rafflecopter was ready to graduate to a grander space (and the founders to their own abodes) in 2013, the trio wanted to splurge—a little.
“We started in a basement and ended up here,” says Goodson, gesturing around the 3,500-square-foot second floor of the historic 1911 building just off the Pearl Street Mall. “But we were on a really tight budget, and we needed help. We knew kind of what we wanted but not how to get it.”
Their dream office was a flexible space that could accommodate their work environment but also felt homey because, well, Rafflecopter is a startup: Work sometimes is home for these go-getters. After some astute Googling, they found Kirsten Brant, whose interior design firm, K. Brant Interiors, has offices in New York City and Denver. As one of the only designers who didn’t simply hand the group a catalog of office furniture when she met them, Brant was hired. With just the existing pressed-tin ceilings and pine floors to work with, she set about transforming the space into an innovative office befitting Rafflecopter’s collaborative spirit—on a startup-size budget. Here’s how.
The standout feature in this room—the pair of teal Comfortable Couch Company (COCOCO) Chesterfield chairs—reflects Rafflecopter’s penchant for risk-taking (what else would you expect from a startup?). The chairs are easily the most expensive items in the room, but Goodson took his designer’s advice to spring for a statement-making focal point. Brant added the floor-to-ceiling curtains as a final element to warm up the room.
Money-Saving Tip: If you’re willing to put in the time, estate sales and thrift stores can be your best friend. Brant unearthed a leather-top desk for the library at an estate sale for $145, and an accompanying chair came from Goodwill.
This small meeting space addresses two of the most important requests Rafflecopter made for its new office: flexible meeting areas with a lot of easy-to-move seating and places that inspire creativity. The Fatboy beanbag chairs, which can easily be set up against a wall or on their own on the floor, satisfy the first item. And the board games stashed in this room check box number two. (Also helpful: the whiskey that’s not pictured.)
Money-Saving Tip: When you can’t afford to buy art, make your own. Brant created the breakout room’s deer painting as a gift for her clients.
“Have something made by hand—if possible—in every room,” Brant says. “It gives the space more character, more soul.” In this case, it’s the Etsy-found table (made of planks from an apple-packing warehouse) crafted by a carpenter based in Virginia.
Money-Saving Tip: Surf discount fabric websites and have your curtains sewn locally (or do it yourself if you’ve got the know-how). Brant found this chevron pattern fabric at fabric.com for less than $10 a yard.
Brant put one of the principles of classic design—symmetry—to good use in this clever meeting space (note the wall prints, Blu Dot Paramount sofas, and Nuevo Sussex floor lamps from All Modern). The gramophone-esque centerpiece reflects a more modern axiom that underscores all of Brant’s design projects: The best results come from collaboration. Goodson found this modern music maker at Restoration Hardware (you set your iPhone on it, and it plays the music out of the top), and Brant picked up the stand it sits on at Urban Outfitters.
Money-Saving Tip: Art doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should reflect you. Goodson printed out Internet memes he and his co-founders love and matted them in black IKEA frames.
The layout—one long hallway with several adjacent rooms—required Brant to create a lobby in an unconventional spot: at the top of the stairs. “When you come in, you need to know you’ve arrived somewhere—and not a dentist’s office. Somewhere creative and fun,” she says. That’s also why Brant chose Sea Isle and Lime Twist (both Benjamin Moore) paint coupled with burnt-orange chairs from discount design website Regency Shop. They establish the bright palette Brant carries throughout the office.
Money-Saving Tip: Don’t have the budget for a fancy sign for your business? Paint your logo on the wall.
Dogs are a big part of Rafflecopter’s culture. At any given time, you’ll find a few pups padding around the office. Shiner (pictured), who belongs to Patten, even has his own seat—but he’s not allowed on the mod teal chair Brant found on Etsy.
Money-Saving Tip: Protect furniture from Fido with colorful and easy-to-wash throws, like the orange one pictured here.