Kelie Mayfield and Erick Ragni are principals at MaRS Culture, a design firm that is transforming some of Houston's most drab offices into workspaces that are cool enough to live in.
"People spend more time in their office typically than they will in their house, so we do see a trend of making offices have a more residential feel," Ragni said.
With that goal in mind, they recently renovated the office of DPW PR firm.
"We wanted to take a different approach of how we were living and working in the space," said the firm's owner Dancie Ware.
MaRS came up with a design that opened up the walls and made the entire building a shared space, even down to the coffee station.
"They're very collaborative here, so it's very important that if someone's going to have something as simple as a coffee, that time can also be spent brainstorming about projects," Ragni said.
Ware says just transforming the office has transformed her entire company.
"It has really increased our creativity, our ability to share new ideas and new information. It has really changed the whole culture of the company," Ware said.
Perhaps the best part of MaRS designs, especially for employers, is that they execute them on a budget.
"Space does not need to be expensive to be interesting or cool or well designed," Mayfield said.
As a startup firm over three years ago, Ragni and Mayfield transformed their own office on a nearly non-existent budget into an urban oasis.
"We have a neon green door and you open it up to what we call a magical courtyard," Mayfield said.
A graffiti mural by Houston artist Gonzo greets clients as they enter. In the center of the office, there's a tree growing in the courtyard. Because they are a creative business, they are free to make creative choices in the workspace.
But even in more traditional offices, MaRS has put a creative twist on the space. The law offices of Shipley Snell Montgomery has unique elements, while still maintaining a professional atmosphere.
"Lawyers get stereotyped, and it's probably justified, of the dark mahogany and books on the shelves that may or not have been cracked for 15 or 20 years, and that's not what we are as a firm," said attorney Joel Montgomery.
So they took their books and turned them into a desk that greets clients as they walk through the door. They are even end tables to match.
With only paint, they transformed the rest of the space by painting the Texas Lawyer's Creed on every wall in the building. With old books and paint, they were able to take their workspace into the 21st century.