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The Helms House’s Hideaway: The Nook

At the Red Fan office, we pride ourselves on having a unique workspace. From expertly crafted offices to innovative workspaces, the Helms House is no stranger to kooky, hidden rooms that offer unique workspaces for employees, clients and visitors. One such space is the third-floor “nook.”

When Red Fan’s president, Kathleen Lucente, asked our project manager, Alicia Hawley, to redesign the nook, she immediately jumped on board. After previously designing the office for our director of finance and operations, Alicia was eager to pursue a new space; one that would challenge her design skills and add a layer of flavor to the Red Fan office.

We sat down with Alicia to discuss the nook’s transformation, her style and what the future looks like for other hidden office spaces!

Tell us a little bit about the nook’s transformation.

This was a very underutilized space. It was a room with white walls and two futon-style mattresses on the floor. We’d often joke with clients and visitors that it was our napping room. The only real use of this room was during our Halloween party for our fortuneteller.

After the party, the desk that acted as the table for the fortuneteller was left in the room, giving Kathleen the idea to start utilizing that space in a more productive way. As Red Fan has continued to grow, we've needed a more private, comfortable room where team members can go to pitch to the media without disturbing the others in the office. So, Kathleen came to me and asked, "How would you like to decorate the nook?" Actually, it wasn't even the nook at the time. It was just the "little space on the third floor."

My first question to her was, "Do you want to know what it's going to look like?" Of course, she wanted a big reveal.

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Where did you draw your inspiration from for the nook’s design?

I knew this was a small, intimate space that we wanted to feel very comfortable and warm while being a place we could hunker down and get to work. Knowing that, I knew I wanted to paint the walls one of my favorite colors: Sherwin Williams Superior Bronze. That was the starting point. Then I found this great purse at Buffalo Exchange with these great colors, and I knew I wanted to put those colors with the bronze paint.

What is your favorite part of the nook?

I don't have a favorite part. I love it all because it is very harmonious; the jewel tones and the dark space make it feel very comfortable. I like the way I feel when I walk into the room.

Where can we see your personal style reflected in the nook?

We wanted it to be fun and up-to-date, but I always like to pull back to the classics. I grew up selling antiques so I have a good background in 17th and 18th century English antiques. I always try to incorporate the old with the new, which I think gives things a sense that they are livable. For example, the old champagne bucket being used as a trashcan, or the old projector screen combined with the modern lines and colors.

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Across from the nook is a similar room; do you have dreams of designing that as well?

Yes! I'm calling that room the cranny, so we have the nook and the cranny. And what do I have visions of? That room is different. While this room is dark, that room faces east and it always has sunlight filling it making it a very bright room. That room would be brighter with more crisp colors. Every space has its own life; the life of this room (the nook) is more of a warm, rich room, while the other could be a more modern, cool room with its natural light.

Apart from the nook, what is your favorite room in the Helms House?

My favorite room, the room that drew me to the Helms House, is probably the conference room, with that turquoise chandelier. There's a photo of that room from a photographer who visited that is very vibrant and showcases the chandelier. That was my first "Aha!" moment in the house. That chandelier is your "pièce de résistance," and every room has to have that.

By combining Alicia's style with the unique charm of the Helms House, the nook has turned into a popular space for the Red Fan team. The importance of an office that is designed to fuel productivity and creativity is something that we value greatly. Without our stellar space, Red Fan's identity and personality would be completely different!

Thank you, Alicia, for your impeccable taste and for converting the nook into a space we all love.

Want to visit the Helms House? We love visitors! Alicia is also our resident tour guide, and would love to show you around.

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