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Office design on a budget.

If you don't have deep pockets but do have a need for new surroundings, interior designers are ready with helpful tips.

When budget is a particularly major concern, a designer should start by finding out what it is about the current office design that the client doesn't like, says Amy Henderson-Ramaker, director of interior design for HNTB Corp. in Indianapolis. "If someone says, 'I need a new look and have X number of dollars to spend,' the most important thing is to find out what about the space is most displeasing. Do they hate the color of the walls, is their chair not comfortable, is the desk not working for them?" The solutions need not be prohibitively expensive.

Decorators are spending extra time assisting clients who want to do "more with less," says David West of Grinsfelder Associates in Fort Wayne. Movable walls can be a cost-effective solution. They allow a variety of space options without reconstruction.

Tax savings are one cost-cutting possibility of portable panels by Modernfold, headquartered in New Castle. Although the firm's products allow ceiling-height walls and enclosed areas as with traditional construction, the custom units are regarded as furniture and can be depreciated on a 7-year schedule. Modernfold's Jerry Rae says that although the initial cost of the panels is more than that of drywall, the value comes with easy changeability. Companies' maintenance people can make the changes themselves.

Steel cabinets and desks also can be given new life inexpensively through electrostatic painting. Through this process, the furniture is given an electrical charge that attracts paint, making application fast and clean. It can be done on site, after hours, without even necessitating the removal of files from the cabinets.

Bob Sniveley of Sniveley's High Tech Interiors in Richmond recommends reupholstering as a way to modernize an office without spending a lot. That approach obviously is good for chairs and sofas, but it also applies to fabric-covered office systems, Henderson-Ramaker says. "The panels can be recovered and the metal trim electrostatically painted."

Revest, a line of recycled and completely remanufactured office-furniture systems, is available through Business Furniture Corp. in Indianapolis. The company's Kirsten Edwards says that Revest can update a variety of brands of office systems. The furniture is stripped down to base components, then remanufactured to high standards.

Kern Brothers in Evansville also can rehabilitate office systems. The company's Tina Kern recommends mid-range colors because they hide dirt and don't show airborne dust.

Purchase price is just one budget consideration in the cost of an office product. Think about upkeep. Donna Ellis, owner of Interiors One-Three in Warsaw suggests vinyl wall coverings because they give warmth and personality to a room. She finds their easy maintenance is a plus.

Carpet care can add up over the years. In Lafayette, Duke Kerns of Carpetland USA advises against using the same carpet style throughout the office. What may be right in executive offices or conference rooms could be impractical in high-traffic areas. A looped carpet is a good choice for an area needing frequent cleaning.

Michael Smith with Hammond's Triad Design Associates believes in putting the most money into spots that clients will see: the reception area, conference room, partners' offices. Multipurpose furnishings which move easily are assets if there's a change of office.

An example where spending too little can be expensive is the office chair, says Bobbi Richardson of Evansville's Business Interiors Limited. Traditionally, the boss has gotten the best chair; Richardson believes a secretary needs a better chair.

Companies could save money by simply eliminating the interior designer, couldn't they? Don't bet on it. A good dealer or interior design professional can actually save clients money in the long run, says Tom O'Neil of Office Pavilion in Indianapolis.

O'Neil describes an unplanned office full of electronic equipment. He says there may be wires everywhere, and essentials--such as a printer--are plopped down wherever there's room. A planner could have orchestrated a businesslike look with better productivity.

Alice Puzyk, president of Paraplan in Crown Point, adds that if firms try to manage changes themselves, employees may lose considerable time dealing with contractors. Doing things in the right order is essential. Paraplan can handle everything from conception to installation and will advise on working in stages, as a budget might require.

Now may be an excellent time to decorate or update an office, according to several Indiana sources. It's a "buyer's market," according to Richard E. Anderson, owner-manager of R.E. Anderson Associates Inc., Terre Haute. He says dealers and manufacturers are willing to give better deals now. "Get bids on the same or equal product."
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Author:Keaton, Joanne
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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