Mixing It Up: Injecting Some Green Design With Reclaimed Building Materials

There has been a surge in the homebuyer and commercial real estate market in recent years for fixer-upper properties. This trend has largely been driven by upwardly mobile millennials. In a survey released by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, 77% of those surveyed preferred a ‘purposeful home’ where they could make their own mark with upgrades in technology and design. This is very indicative of a generation interested in busting out of traditional roles and making a statement. Reclaimed materials transfer this message well forward into the work ethic and the tech startup culture millennials imbibe as they make their way up the corporate ladder.

According to the National Association of Homebuilders, “If all the dimensional lumber used to build the 1.2 million new homes constructed in the United States each year were laid end to end, it would extend 2 million miles, the equivalent of going to the moon and back six and a half times.” Never mind the waste generated from the other components needed to meet the codes in construction today.

So it’s really no coincidence that the re-purposeful life, as I like to call it, has forged a shift toward reclaimed buildings and materials in office design. This style is edgy. It’s rustic. It allows for a lot of creativity, so it fits the startup model without question. But there is also a market for it among older generation workers that remember how things used to be….when there was wood and leather and fewer manmade materials in the office design aesthetic. There is a tactile sturdiness to this aesthetic.

Coincidentally, as millennials continue to drive the workforce in staggering numbers, so their style drives the design market. We’ve seen this trend personified in open plan office design. They are less likely to prefer traditional offices spaces and work ethics. Opting for more technology and edgier design with some perks. Fitness and work-life balance are all strong forces in their culture and their work style.

The open office design trend they forged was very sleek and modern at its onset. It was laminate, brightly colored, plastic and shiney…and it all started looking the same. Texture had very little to say as part of that design aesthetic. It needed an edge. And it found it in the juxtaposition of reclaimed wood, exposed brick, corrugated metal, chalk board walls, darker colors and a more rustic tone.

Architects and green designers with an eye toward lessening the building footprint on the environment have pushed this trend into the commercial sector for years. It’s been in restaurants and savvy storefronts for some time now. Leading this visionary trend was Restoration Hardware, with their vintage curator style.

Reclaimed materials, while not new to the green building industry, have come into the office design market through the repurposing of warehouse spaces and the resurgence of the downtown culture where loft living/working is in full swing. Heavily embraced by the startup culture, co-working spaces and new businesses have transformed derelict warehouse spaces and abandoned factories into savvy office environments featuring repurposed wood, metal and even shipping containers. Thinking outside the box and designing for the way your team works is a prerequisite for any successful office design or redesign. Reclaimed materials imbibe the re-purposeful life that so many people crave. It has become a lifestyle brand in its own right!

Whether you are starting up or redesigning, our design team can help you retrofit some reclaimed materials into your space. Creating your brand personality among your peers is significant to your office design. We can help you find the best furnishings and space plan for your needs.


DSC02233-462666-edited.jpgMEET JANICE COONS: Janice assists clients seeking space planning, design and furniture for offices, health care, and higher education. Armed with her extensive knowledge, she dilligently fits the right style into any budget. She can help you create a unique space by finding the right furnishings well suited for a design incorporating reclaimed materials Connect with her via email or by calling 888-910-3769, x113.