Duet Design Group whipped up a whole-office transformation for clients who wanted their Denver workspace to feel as comfortable and chic as a beautifully styled home. Lucky for us, the project delivers abundant inspiration and ideas for any HQ—whether it’s at home or in an actual office building. (Remember those?) Below, our top tips for a work environment that sparks creativity and fights the 3 p.m. slump.

1. Take inspiration from residential design.

“We designed these clients’ primary residence, and they wanted their office to feel like a home away from home,” says Duet principal Miranda Cullen. “[They asked for] a space with different areas to work, eat, relax, and have large and small meetings—whatever allows [employees] to be most productive and supported.” The design team embraced a cozy, elevated aesthetic that meets those needs: office spaces flex for small gatherings, comfortable chairs sit beside pull-up laptop tables for on-the-fly brainstorming, sitting areas feel like mini living rooms, and gorgeous textiles and patterns abound.

2. Get creative with art and lighting.

“I almost had a heart attack when I saw this piece, I loved it so much,” Cullen says of Melanie Rothschild’s colorful 3D installation—one of many vibrant pieces that local art consultancy Nine Dot Arts curated for the office. One trick to take from this project: Display art at the end of a hallway or wherever your line of vision ends. You get the fun of looking at it as you cross a room or meander down a corridor.

Lighting also makes a big impact. “You’ll never be sorry you invested in beautiful fixtures,” Cullen says. “They go a long way toward making the workday more enjoyable, both practically and aesthetically.” Throughout this office, Cullen specified sculptural fixtures that provide layers of illumination and visual interest—a welcome departure from the fluorescent light panels often found in office spaces.

3. Design with wellness in mind.

Throughout the office, the design team added spaces for employees to decompress or think quietly. “You can’t go, go, go all day without little mental breaks,” Cullen says. In one of the office’s private wellness rooms, a vinyl watercolor wallcovering from Phillip Jeffries—reminiscent of a lake or seaside scene—surrounds a leather chaise from Rifugio Modern. It’s worth noting: No matter where you’re punching the clock these days, space away from your desk (and in a place you find pleasing) is an investment in your mental health.

4. Embrace nature.

The clients wanted natural elements—unlike typical commercial spaces’ hard, beige furniture bathed in fluorescent light—and the design team took up that call enthusiastically. In the library, a palm-frond-print wallpaper from Kravet backs a custom bookshelf where employees can pick up new reads or share favorites with coworkers. Wall-mounted planters by Little Eden Plants in Arvada add live greenery to the dining room. And natural wood tones throughout the office create a soothing atmosphere. “Any time you can add wood to a space, even if it’s just a small element, you get more warmth, more richness,” Cullen says.

The Bottom Line

“These set-ups can absolutely be duplicated at home,” Cullen says. “Those days of sitting at a stationary desk 24-7 are gone. Think through function and ergonomics. Think about how you want your space to feel. Then build it, even a little at a time, until it serves you exactly the way you want.”

This article was originally published in 5280 Home December 2021/January 2022.
Hilary Masell Oswald
Hilary Masell Oswald
As the former editor for two of 5280’s ancillary publications, Hilary Masell Oswald split her time between the vibrant design-and-architecture scene in the metro area for 5280 Home and the always-changing field of health for the annual 5280 Health.