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  • Cyle Augusta

Art Deco Revival: Transforming a Historic Building Space into a Dapper Office Suite





 

Wilhouse Designs was recently invited to reimagine a space within the historic Times Building, home to the RE/MAX TODAY real estate brokerage. The Times Building is an essential pillar of downtown Huntsville, and Willhouse Designs was honored to assist! The goal was to create a design concept that narrated the RE/MAX brand's story of exceptional hospitality with a customer-first vision for Rocket City.


Nestled between Holmes Avenue and Greene Street in downtown Huntsville, the iconic Times Building was originally constructed in 1928 as the home of the Huntsville Daily Times. Built by the newspaper's owner, Jacob Emory Pierce, it is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and functions as an office building.


As soon as Andrea exited the elevator on the first site visit, inspiration struck. "The high ceilings, large windows, and nod to art deco drew me in. I am particularly fond of the front room, which we turned into the client reception area. It has these beautiful arched windows and finished ceilings, which allow for a full saturation of color. The space felt grand yet inviting. I could immediately envision our office taking shape within these historic walls."


Expanding on her creative process, Andrea mentioned "in a commercial design scheme, your lighting and wall finishes do the heavy lifting. Keeping that in mind, we gave careful attention to existing architectural details and selected new paint colors and wall elements. Our goal was to create spaces that function well while conveying the company's mission of hospitality and putting clients first. From our first meeting with RE/MAX, we were enamored by their unwavering commitment to welcoming hospitality to everyone who walks through their doors. It's our goal to tell our clients' stories through our designs, so I was instantly inspired by the space and the culture RE/MAX was seeking to create. We aligned with their vision and knew the space needed to be life-giving and inspiring for their developing business."


Jen went on to unpack the differences in the process "I enjoyed being on the commercial side of design again for this project. You have different needs for different zones, so digging into the intended tasks and occupancy requirements for each part of their office appealed to my Type A personality. A commercial design project tends to tell a different 'design story' than a personal residence, so honing in on their brand and office culture was an integral and fun part of this experience."


The Wilhouse duo enjoyed sharing their design with their client. "Presenting our ideas to our clients is always a bit nerve-wracking. Jen did a phenomenal job writing their story into our presentation, including inspirational pictures and rendered floor plans," Andrea explained. Jen added, "We poured our hearts and talent into the presentation, and hoped they would understand our vision and the dreams we had for them." They both smiled in agreement as Andrea shared "we were thrilled to walk away with very happy clients and a design we were ready to bring to fruition!” 




The Reception Area- where first impressions speak volumes.



The team recognized that the client-facing spaces would need to be elevated and the most formal, reflecting the building’s original Art Deco style. Andrea explained, "We wanted to stay mindful of the original design while incorporating creative lighting and bold furniture selections. A key component is the color selection. The waiting area will set the tone for the quality experience the client expects from RE/MAX;  it’s where they'll establish that lasting first impression. Our changes were simple yet powerful - a bold new paint color on the walls, a new light fixture, and the removal of all the blinds to allow the space to shine. The natural light from the windows and a bustling downtown street corner view popped against the rich color tones we selected. The space is energizing and exciting while still cozy and inviting for visitors."





Before & After - The original marble wall slabs and brick ceilings in the hallway pop against the new saturated color selection on the upper walls.


Conference Room #1 - Existing light fixtures and a brick accent wall benefit from a new burst of color on the walls and custom furnishings.



Conference Room #2 - Another hue of bold new paint makes all the difference in this lively larger conference room. Our client sourced the framed astronaut art, a perfect nod to their Rocket City based firm!


Next, Jen explained their approach to the community space, “we got to stretch our commercial design side and imagine a multi-use space that would speak to their desired office culture. The original brick ceiling with skylights provided another fun opportunity to play up the natural lighting and architecture of the building. Even on a rainy day, that area is a light-filled, happy spot for their team to collaborate. My favorite moment is the cozy green bench with the wood slat wall backdrop. Each spot has its own power capability and a personal work table, making it seem like a dream place to prop up my laptop, grab a coffee, and get some work done!"



Agent Community Space- Less formal than the client-facing areas up front, this multi-functional space is built to switch from hosting networking events, to small group meetings, to casual work days in the office with. New slat walls play up the industrial feel of the exposed concrete ceilings.






"The Old Times Building in Huntsville is a true architectural gem, representing an integral part of the city's heritage," Andrea closed. "By collaborating with RE/MAX TODAY, we aimed to preserve that legacy while infusing the space with a fresh, contemporary feel that reflected the brand's commitment to exceptional hospitality and customer service. It was a dream come true to take care of clients we love and care about and help build their dream - in the Times Building! That building has been a fixture in our downtown for decades, and I had always wondered what it would be like to be a part of its history."


 


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Accessories: Wilhouse Collection



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