By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

Hip and trendy companies are taking over old workplaces for the classical architecture and distinguished feel of the spaces. But these elements only go so far in creating functional workplaces. The key is discovering how to make an old office look modern for that perfect juxtaposition between classic appeal and modern feel.

While we don’t recommend covering up that original brick wall or drywalling over exposed beams, there are a few simple tricks to blending old and new, traditional with contemporary. Here’s how to bridge the gap between your aged workplace and the modern office workers want:

  1. Update fixtures: Lighting and exposed ductwork are prime candidates for updates in an office inching toward modernization. Ditch the fluorescent bulbs for softer LEDs and swap worn-out fixtures for modern, minimalist accents that compliment the space. If you choose to keep HVAC ducting exposed, powder coat it for a decorative effect.
  2. Add tech: The fastest way to make an office look modern is to roll out technology upgrades. Televisions and mounted video screens make a big impression. A laptop or tablet charging dock can influence the nature of the space. For a broader impression, digital wayfinding is both practical and appealing. You can even add exposed network cabling overhead for full tech effect.
  3. Bring in greenery: Biophilic design is a major element in modern offices. It’s also a superb way to bridge an older workplace atmosphere and modern design themes. Add live greenery throughout the office in the form of floor and table plants. If possible, hang a few baskets of non-flowering plants throughout the office. Plants balance mood, lighten the color palate, and even help purify the air.
  4. Introduce art: Pick an art theme and go wild in your workplace makeover. Whether you choose eclectic, surreal, modern, industrial, or classical art, scatter wall décor throughout the workplace. The workplace of the past may have had barren white walls; the workplace of today should be anything but.
  5. Lose the walls: Speaking of walls, if you don’t need them, knock them down. Not only will you gain newfound square footage, you’ll shift closer to a modern workplace aesthetic. It’s a big task that’ll cost money, but opening up your floor plan definitely screams modern office.
  6. Choose a minimalist theme: Like picking art, settle on an office design theme and stick to it in a minimalist way. For example, choose modular furniture with clean lines or industrial accents based on the aesthetic that suits your brand. Going overboard can leave you with a workplace that feels cluttered. Stick to simple accents and build a cohesive theme.
  7. Accent texture: Texture is readily present in old office spaces—it just needs accenting in a modern way. Create focal points with brick walls, exposed architecture, or original features. Accent brick with a subtle carpet pattern or offset exposed steel with leather furniture. Combining and accenting textures is a beautiful way to bridge an old workplace with new concepts.
  8. Consider color: Color is crucial. Whether you choose to focus on your brand’s colors or have a different palate in mind, pick accents that inspire. Find cohesion by hanging red art on a cream brick wall, putting blue furniture on a beige carpet, or painting walls purple to offset black and steel architecture. Color binds the many elements of your workplace together and can be the key in reinvigorating it.
  9. Try window treatments: Window treatments are a great design element in their own right. They’re also seen as a modern touch. Install blinds or cellular shades to add a nice contemporary look to your workplace. As part of a full facility makeover, window treatments have the transformative ability to turn the clock forward.
  10. Put comfort first: Antiquated office spaces don’t have a reputation for being comfortable. Specifically focusing on comfort in your workplace breaks that stigma. Invest in comfy furniture, ergonomic desks, and informal environments where employees can de-stress. Comfort adds a modern touch few individual design elements can by themselves.
  11. Keep it clean: Regardless of the changes you make, ensure your workplace is always clean. Disorganized or cluttered workplaces quickly lose their appeal, which can drag down the atmosphere. If there are older elements in your space, the clutter may magnify them, leading to an overall feeling of dinginess. Keep in mind, clean is a connotation of “modern.”

Short of taking a wrecking ball to your office, there’s not a lot you can do about the building materials and architecture. To bring your antiquated workplace into the modern era, you’ll need to focus on the design elements you do have control over. Keep the above tips in mind as you strive to make an old office look modern.

Keep reading: what are the modern workplace trends, must have areas and modern spaces.