When virtual decorating app Hutch was given three months to move offices last spring, a unique opportunity presented itself amid the frantic real-estate search: the staff could use their very own decor tool to decorate the new Hutch HQ.
Sure, it was designed to help people make over their homes, but who said the app couldn’t be used to design conference rooms and communal spaces, too? CEO and cofounder Beatrice Fischel-Bock ended up signing the lease on an industrial space in Culver City, California, within one week of seeing it.
But rather than full steam ahead, it was hurry up and wait. At the time, there just wasn’t the proper budget for a full redesign, and “I was given very clear instructions that I wasn’t allowed to touch anything until the tech was in a great place,” VP of design and brand Aisling Mittman explains. Finally, when summer arrived, it was go time – they had closed their latest round of funding and the app had been updated.
Beatrice enjoys a leafy corner on the headquarters’ terrace. “It’s really cool to live what you’re selling,” she says of using the Hutch app to transform the office. “I think it was a big shift for everyone who didn’t understand how powerful the tool was.” Blue wire chair by Bend Goods.
Although the building checked off both of Beatrice and Aisling’s major requirements – an open floor plan and great natural light – there wasn’t much else to look at when they first saw it. Since it was still under construction, it was essentially just one big, empty space save for some breakout rooms separated by industrial steel-and-glass walls. As luck would have it, Beatrice and Aisling were able to influence a bunch of the last-minute design decisions. “We were able to keep some of the ductwork open and keep the brick unpainted,” says Beatrice. On top of that, they chose to hang big round pendants throughout the space and told the landlord to leave the concrete floors untreated.
Once the office was move-in ready, it was time to play on the Hutch app. “We used the dining room template and living room template to design the conference rooms and living spaces,” says Aisling. (Standard-size dining tables and chairs happened to be the perfect fit.) While using the tool like any other person, Aisling discovered a missing feature she desperately wanted. “We actually just released paint because that was a big thing – we wanted each room it to have its own vibe, so we were picking different paint colors. We did the whole paint-on-the-wall old-school thing, but now we have it on the app,” says Aisling. Beatrice adds, “Nothing gives you clarity like actually doing it yourself.”
Everyone pitched in to pull the space together. “When you work for a furniture and design company, you’ve got to know how to build furniture!” says Beatrice. Here are some of the coolest moments that we are fully preparing to copy. . .
They made a giant art installation less $$$: “Typically, oversized art can be expensive, and we wanted our office to represent our user and fill the space with beautiful yet affordable pieces, so an easy way to achieve this is with a gallery wall,” says Beatrice. “We mixed vintage pieces with new, as well as the frame colors, which gives the wall the most impact.” The fun mint wire chairs in the foreground are from Bend Goods.
They used paint to create different vibes, part one: “We thought it would be a great homage to our city to decorate each room inspired by a specific part of Los Angeles – Culver City, Echo Park, Venice, and Downtown L.A.,” says Aisling. Paint made the project 10x easier. Take the Echo Park conference room. In the real-life neighborhood, “all of the restaurants there are super colorful and poppy,” so they painted the meeting space an eye-catching dusty rose color (Penelope by Portola Paints Glazes) to instantly evoke that energy.
They used paint to create different vibes, part two: The Downtown L.A. conference room, Aisling’s favorite space in the whole office, is much moodier. “It has a more industrial vibe,” similar the actual neighborhood, she says, and the blue-green walls (Nitty Gritty by Portola Paints Glazes) give it a cocoon-like feel. “I need quiet to do the creative part of my job and it’s a nice space because it’s a little darker and it feels more removed. I can be alone with my thoughts.”
They used paint to create different vibes, part three: The Venice conference room is a major departure from the others. The walls are painted a soft, calming gray (Dry Ground by Portola Paints Glazes) and there isn’t a meeting table in sight. “The Venice vibe is more relaxed, so it has a sofa and is more of a common space,” Aisling explains. “There’s less stimulation, kind of like when you’re at the beach.”
They found functional office supplies that aren’t heinous: Rather than splurge on new desks, Beatrice and Aisling brought the tables over from their old office. Instead, they decided to spend some money on laptop stands – but not just any laptop stands. These ones are straight-up pretty, made from a Scandi-esque pale wood. “We wanted to shy away from white as we had existing white desks and chairs, and wanted some contrast. The ones we found are all wood and adjustable, so they can accommodate various heights,” says Beatrice.es
They skipped the garden store for the flower market: It where Aisling says you’ll get the most bang for your buck. “We really wanted live plants in the office; I think that plants really do help a place feel more homey. So we went to the L.A. flower market and bought a lot of plants. The kind of plants you can get there for the price you pay is crazy.”
They turned storage into a statement: Shelves that stretch all the way to the ceiling in the kitchen do double-duty as focal point and prop closet. The 25+ cubbies artfully house their big collection of knickknacks for photo shoots – plus hundreds of vintage books from Craigslist (!).
They dressed up the bathroom sinks – literally: The bathrooms in their entirety needed some TLC. “They were super industrial and scary before,” Aisling recalls. Bright patterned wallpaper made a huge difference, but there was still the ugly exposed piped underneath the sinks to deal with. Aisling’s solution: linen tableclothes-cum-sink skirts; she simply hot-glued the fabric to the porcelain.
They personalized the space with work by local artists: Near the bathrooms, Los Angeles artist Chloe White hand-painted a one-of-a-kind mural of the Hutch team’s favorite interior design “filters” on the app; she also painted the company’s values and logo.
They weren’t afraid to use Amazon as a source: “We are a scrappy start-up, so we had to make sure every dollar spent was right,” says Aisling. The outdoor dining area was no exception. “We found these great stacking stools from Amazon on Hutch that were six for $50. We had to plan seating for 30, and it was a cute and affordable option.” To pep up the blah building exterior, they had artist Carly Kuhn, founder of The Cartorialist, tag the walls with her signature faces.