At the beginning of this year, SeilerSchindel law firm was split between two offices because they couldn’t fit into one. With their Plymouth and St. Louis Park locations totalling just 6,500 square feet (some shared with other tenants), the firm needed space, and needed it fast.
“We had plans to grow,” attorney Jon Schindel says. “We wanted to stay [in St. Louis Park], because of our clients and access to downtown.” So they looked around until their new location on Cedar Lake Road became available. At 10,000 square feet, it had the space they needed, but there was a catch.
“When we bought the building, it was dark,” Schindel says. “And we just didn’t like it.” The expansive interior had an open atrium, but it was covered in dark oak, making it feel smaller than it actually was. So the firm brought in designer Jane-Marie Bloomberg of Embellishments Design Studio and asked her to lighten the place up.
“It was very ’80s style, in terms of the carpeting and the colors of the walls,” she says. “So it needed a full transformation.”
A total makeover was going to be a challenge, though, as “we had a somewhat limited budget,” Schindel says. They couldn’t tear down and rebuild. “We only knocked out one wall, and that was to create the entry area,” Schindel says. They used Vercon Inc. as the building contractor on the project, he says, though because of the limited reconstruction work, “we didn’t really have to consult anyone.” But the team got the job done in only six weeks.
Material selection also kept costs down, Bloomberg says. “When you’re working with limited resources but you want to make a big impact, it’s usually about color and contrast,” she says. The biggest thing she hoped she could get done, from a budget perspective, to make a big change was paint all of the dark oak wood to white. Bloomberg chose a gray and white palette to satisfy the firm’s modern taste.
“We’re trying to get something that shows stability and strength, and gray is a great color for that,” Bloomberg says. SeilerSchindel’s other main color on logos and business cards is a deep red, giving a natural choice for a strong accent color. When Bloomberg put together the presentation for the firm, showing off her ideas for the new space, she focused on what the company directives were.
First, she says, the firm wants to help other companies grow and thrive, so she picked hard surfaces mimicking wood grain or fabric to signify malleability and adaptability. Linear patterns were to signify a trajectory or journey. Next, because they’re attorneys, she picked traditional fabrics with a tailored-suit vibe and gave them a modern look in the overall design, along with tile and wall coverings. The firm also focuses on making personal connections with clients, so she picked fabrics, and surfaces that look like fabric, to give them a softer, more comfortable feel. Philanthropic work and community is important to the firm, so the building has several group workspaces for collaboration.
“All of that together,” Bloomberg says, “is probably an underlying theme, where nobody ever says, ‘Oh my gosh, that reminds me of personal growth and community,’ But it’s to provide a message so you can look at that and explain the reasoning behind your choices.” The firm also installed sound-absorbing panels, designed to look like art.
The biggest gain in moving to the new building is space, Schindel says. Productivity has gone up, and employees have started opening their office doors. “We sit at our desks enough,” Schindel says. “It’s nice to have your door open, get that air moving.”
(Gray-and-white tones and a dry erase table (left); the open atrium (right))