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Tips for Designing a Spec Suite Office

Designing a prospective spec suite is an exciting opportunity. Here are some tips on how you can set up a spec suite office that's both beautiful and functional.


A spec suite can be a sound strategy for businesses in need of a new space—saving you money and time while also providing room for your business to grow.

Designing a prospective spec suite is an exciting opportunity. You want to make sure that your clients can visualize what their new office will look like, but you also want to be able to show off the best features of your building and its space.

Here are some tips for how you can set up a spec suite that's both beautiful and functional:


Define The Space

Before you start designing, it's important to scope what your client wants out of the space.
To get started, consider these questions:
  • How much space do you need?
  • What is your budget (including costs of materials, labor, marketing, furniture, fixtures, equipment, utilities and insurance)?
  • When do you need this space done by? Are there any other deadlines or restrictions on the timeline besides just getting it done by X date?
    • If so, what are those and how will they affect your design process (e.g. consider the shipping and delivery timeline for any furniture that needs to be ordered)
  • Are there any restrictions on what type of furniture can be used in this room (e.g., no fabric upholstery due to allergy concerns).
    • If so, are there options available within that restriction that would also meet other needs such as cost effectiveness or aesthetics?


Working on a Limited Budget or Timeline

When you're designing a spec suite, budget and timeline are usually the first two things that come to mind.
If your budget is tight, it's important to figure out if there are ways to reduce costs. For example, can you use existing furniture or fixtures? Do you need to hire an interior designer or other professionals to help with construction projects? There may be hidden costs like permits or electrical work that aren't included in your initial quote.
If time is limited—because of a moving date quickly approaching or for other reasons—you may have no choice but to work with what's already available at the space (assuming it's safe). In some cases this will save money; in others, it could cost more than building from scratch. It all depends on what needs replacing and what's left over after taking into account any potential upgrades through re-purposing pieces from past projects. The good news is there are always opportunities for creativity when renovating old spaces!

Think About How to Divide the Space


Now it's time to think about how you want to divide the space. You may want to create separate areas for different functions and teams, or keep everything in one large area. If you're trying to attract a tech company, for example, consider creating a break room with a ping-pong table—or even building out an entire recreation center with multiple amenities.

If your company is more traditional and doesn't have any special requirements for its office space (or if you're just looking for something generic), then it's fine to simply divide up your spec suite into appropriate rooms and hallways using drywall partitions and other materials that are easy enough for anyone who has access (including contractors) to install themselves.


Add a Feature Wall

A feature wall is a great way to capture your client's attention and create an impact. It can also be used as a focal point for the space, visually separating spaces, creating privacy and openness within an open-plan layout, or even adding continuity between rooms. If you want to add more detail or focus on something specific in your design, then using a feature wall is the perfect way to do so!

Color is Key


A strong, cohesive color palette can create a sense of belonging and identity that helps you build client trust and goodwill.

Colors can also make a space feel more open and inviting, or more professional and well-designed. They can help you convey the type of vibe you want to give off in a room, whether it's creative, fun and exciting, relaxing or serious business.

You'll want to choose a color scheme for your brand that conveys what kind of business you're running: Are you techy? Hipster? Luxurious? The right colors will help reinforce the message that this is how your target audience sees themselves—which can go a long way toward convincing them that they need whatever it is that you're showing.


Focus on the Most Important Details

Once you’ve identified the aesthetic, focus on the details that are most important to prospective tenants. This is where you can really show off your creativity and brand identity, without being so abstract as to put off potential buyers.
For example, if your main goal is to create a feeling of openness in the space, you might choose to paint all your individual office spaces and walls white or light gray.

Select Materials and Finishes


When selecting materials, it's important to consider their durability and maintenance needs. Durable materials are important because they'll last longer than cheap ones, saving you time and money in the long run. Choose durable finishes that are also easy to clean (which will save you from re-painting).

Avoid using materials that need special cleaning or maintenance, because these tasks can be time consuming and costly. You also want to choose easily replaceable or inexpensive materials that can be replaced without much hassle if necessary (for example, painting over existing paint jobs).


Plan for Clients to See Your Design Process

It's important to keep in mind that clients will want to see the design process. If your client is coming in and out of the studio, they'll see the evolution of the space—and they will be impressed by how much work goes into making a beautiful office space.

Strategically Stage the Buildout

Choosing a design that will work for multiple tenants, while still giving you the flexibility to change over many years, will help you attract and retain tenants.
For example, if your spec suite is being used as an office space but might be converted into a retail or warehouse space someday, you'll need to make sure that it's easy to transform from one type of office layout into another.
These types of changes aren't always easy or cheap; they require careful planning during the design phase.

Executing Design Prowess with Flexibility

The spec suite design should show true design prowess while being flexible enough to attract multiple tenants.
You can design something that looks fantastic, but it needs to be flexible enough for multiple tenants. The key is knowing what you need, having enough experience with other projects so that you know what works well in an office space and making sure that it’s easy for clients to see how this one will look once built out.
If you want to take the next step towards designing a spec suite, you’re welcome to use our Design My Office feature which will help you find what type of furniture you need for your space. You can also check out our whole selection of workplace furniture to find what you need, but we’re always happy to help!

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