The following morning after we closed on the Endex Building, in winter coats, we walked down and stood across the street to look at our new place. The mood was charged with a quiet intensity that could be felt. Though we had toured the building maybe times before, we were all looking at it for the first time again. The concepts we had talked about for the building, before we bought it, were being sifted in our minds between fantasy and what would actually be possible, a reality that seemed to be staring at us through the new windows. Wringing our gloved hands, we summoned the courage to smile back at it.
Yes, we just bought our own building and, yes, we are doing considerably well for ourselves, but let’s not forget that Varitone Architecture is still a start-up firm. Apart from founding the firm itself, buying a building has been the next biggest endeavor we have undertaken. When our team was touring the building with the real estate agent, the heavy weight of our limited budget was being dragged behind us through every room. Every room that had unusable carpet, and under every ceiling that was questionably low. We knew that we would have to do as much as we could with as little as possible.
How we’re renovating the inside of the building is another post for the future, but I can tell you how we’re renovating the exterior.
In our dreams, we’d take the brick off the outside of the building. However, such a cosmetic job would blow our entire budget. We had to be smart, start from the bottom up, map out exactly what we could do and go from there.
First, we needed a sign. One day we may change it, but for now we felt that we could get the most for our design and budget by reusing the existing sign’s metal frame. Second, we wanted a window graphic of our business’s name on our door, and simple graphics along our storefront windows to work as a semi-private screen between our desks and the sidewalk. After taking in the expenses of what we needed for the exterior, we had little left to work with. That’s when we decided to utilize Photoshop and see what we could do with just paint.
We started by applying a general base paint to the body of the building and to the metal awning. For the body of the building we chose a light version of our company’s secondary color, gray. Just giving the building a fresh paint job made a noticeable difference. After that, we applied the dark gray color of the storefront windows to metal awning. At this stage, the building looked good, but needed a “wow factor” design element, but one that was still only comprised of paint.
Our solution to creating a low budget design element with paint was to frame our entry with Varitone yellow. We will achieve this yellow highlight by using epoxy paint on the wall to the right of the front entry door and along ground in front of our storefront windows.
Bonus Step: An Extra Punch
As a final touch, we will be stenciling Varitone’s tagline along the second-floor exterior wall for a simple yet bold mural.
And that’s it. That is our deconstructed, step by step design process. Design doesn’t have to be complicated, nor does it require a grand budget. We were able to take what was possible, and with a little creative wielding, we were able to turn our storefront into a building that genuinely makes us want to smile.