The IKEA challenge
Design Star: Houston Style — Creating a lounge in 30 days without killing eachother
In the beginning — 10 months ago — our Rice Village office was more of a tiny den — not like, of sin, but like the sort you live in.
Shelby Hodge shared a dining room table (not a dining room table-sized desk, but an actual dining room table) with the rest of the CultureMap staff, the door stood perpetually open for maximum air flow and there was never enough space for all of the people tripping over each other’s computer cords.
We upgraded to an (only slightly) larger space a few blocks away before finally finding our home near the Warehouse District on the north side of downtown, on the ground floor of a funky residential loft building.
Now, we have a problem most people wish they had — we have more room than we know what to do with.
There's one room in the back — or the front — of the office, depending on which way you come in, that presents a particularly daunting design challenge. It's long and narrow, has two sets of double doors (only one of which opens) and lots of brick wall space. There's also a weird little recessed, nook-ish area that's too big to qualify as an actual nook.
Our president, Nic Phillips, thinks this misshapen chamber is the perfect spot for the CultureMap Lounge.
As purveyor of all things cool, our editors asked us to team up to design the space. Amazingly, they gave us free reign, a budget and a video camera. IKEA Houston is generously providing the furniture, along with some design advice, and the meatballs — but is otherwise leaving us alone to make our own myriad mistakes.
Oh, and we have to have it complete it from start to finish in 30 days.
Sounds like a dream assignment, right? In a way it is — in the way we wake up in cold night sweats dreaming about our divergent design concepts and the encroaching deadline.
For one thing, we've never furnished a room from scratch. We've put together shared dorm rooms, Americanized our quarters abroad and decorated first apartments with the castoffs of friends and family, but that doesn't really count.
And we didn't
care realize that everyone in office would have an opinion. Our bright idea to put bunk beds in "the nook" for example was, fittingly, de-bunked.
We envision the lounge as a space for the exchange of ideas, nighttime libations and perhaps a bit of respite. We didn't realize it would turn former friends into frenemies and inspire confessionals to our videographer Carolina Astrain a la The Real World.
So, we're going to need some help. We'll ask for your advice on items to choose, force you take sides (Team Caroline or Team Steven) and unveil the fruits of our hard labor in early October. We may even ask you to come over.
We'll show you the inner workings of our big, happy dysfunctional family with staff video interviews, let you read along as we attempt to secure the perimeter and protect the surprise and demonstrate just how inept we are when it comes to simple assembly. So stay tuned over the next month as we overcome the hurdles of home decor.
On Tuesday: The nitty gritty. We're going to show you what we're workin' with.
Something to whet your appetite: