Before and After: A Newbury Street Office Makeover
When tasked with a commercial design project, it helps to have a client who has good taste.
That made it fairly easy for interior designer Steven Santosuosso to completely turn a 1,400-square-foot Newbury Street office on its head. While creating a striking space for public relations firm Pluck, he worked from the tastes of its founder, Kate Gundry.
“It’s a mix of midcentury modern and a little bit rustic with a Moroccan edge to it,” explains Santosuosso.
Tastes aside, Gundry says the redesign isn’t something she could’ve tackled alone, noting that Santosuosso gave the office an identity that it previously lacked.
Santosuosso is the cofounder of a newly established design firm called Squarehouse Studios. The product of two New England Institute of Art graduates, the Somerville-based studio was founded last April by Santosuosso and former classmate Mary Flo Ouellette.
Of Squarehouse’s recently completed projects, the renovated Pluck office is a breath of fresh air for the classic brownstone that houses it. Santosuosso came into the project with a to-do list—maintain a chic atmosphere that fits the Newbury Street vibe and reflect Pluck’s brand.
“It’s a PR firm, so it needs to be a little forward facing in the way that it’s designed,” says Santosuosso.
What does forward facing mean? For one, it acknowledges the needs of the modern work environment. Employees working on Macbooks need an office where they can work in different spots, so Santosuosso created workspaces in the lounge area and reception areas in addition to the main conference room.
“It’s homey,” he says. “With the two living room-type spaces in mind.”
A modern living room feel comes through with plenty of informal seating areas and a nonfunctional fireplace that’s filled with books. There’s also attitude infused throughout the space in the form of art, a bold fluorescent light wall hanging, and a few statement furnishings.
“(Pluck) evokes an image of somebody who’s plucking—someone with nerve. So I wanted to design it a little bit ‘in your face.’” says Santosuosso. “The very first thing that was sourced was actually Kate’s desk with the antelope heads.”
The gold antelope head glass dining table from Coddington Design as well as the brass Moroccan coffee table from Harmony Rogue Interiors in the reception area were discovered on Chairish, an online marketplace for vintage and used furniture and decor.
From the beginning of the five-month-long project, Santosuosso established a style with rich wood finishes, brass accents, and lush, textured colors to evoke a natural feel.
“There are all natural colors,” he says. “With no real primary colors going on in there.”
In Gundry’s office, he covered the walls in green.
“We actually painted it in a striation. It equates to a linen or a glass cloth,” he says. “It’s almost like being in a prairie or being among the grass.”
From the natural woods and the greens to the coral-colored velvet on the chairs, Santosuosso says the office’s details play into the overall concept, where vintage, high-end, and local finds work to create character and contrast.
Tapestries and faux fur rugs complement this idea, along with a commissioned “Pluck” sign by EtipsOne from OverSpray Studio. Many of the rugs were provided by Gundry herself, which further bring out her taste, according to Santosuosso.
“Steven was super flexible both to my likes and dislikes, but also to the literal tables and chairs I said we were going to use from yard sales and artisan neighbors to make the place feel like me and not break the bank,” says Gundry.
Santosuosso incorporated them into the office seamlessly, ensuring a balance of Gundry’s style and functional pieces.
“The fact that some days I want to steal our office art for my house makes me confident that the design is reflective of my taste,” says Gundry.