Cool Factor

Photography by Gene Pollux By Rosanne Knorr September 30, 2011

Commercial environments have to work hard. They must attract a diverse array of clients, help managers and employees function efficiently and look beautiful in the process. We found three great spaces—a restaurant, a retail store and an office—that accomplished the job with style. Each creates an inviting environment ideal for its purpose and clientele.

Clockwise from top: Shoogie Boogies’ garden room in the café, owner Kathryn Kittinger, courtyard dining and repurposed bathtub.1 Retail

Shoogie Boogies

This quaint shop in Towles Court in downtown Sarasota began with photographer Kathryn Kittinger’s goal of creating a photo studio and gallery that would showcase her portraits of children. That initial idea eventually evolved into a multifunctional space that includes a gift boutique, home décor shop and garden café in a series of small rooms. Kittinger’s genius in designing the space was to make sure that everything used in the décor was also for sale in the store.


Integrate studio space with retail and restaurant sales on a limited budget.


The property was in disrepair and had been segmented to house several small businesses and a small residence. “It was a real hodgepodge,” says Kittinger.


Kittinger, who designed the entire space herself, has managed to unify the collection of tiny rooms and her outdoor garden by using light colors, soft fabrics, natural materials, flowers, old bricks and repurposed chairs, benches and an old bathtub to make visitors feel they are entering a charming English cottage, not a store. To stay within budget and to keep with her cottage theme, the entire structure—the floors, lighting, walls and ceilings—were rearranged, repainted, remodeled or reconfigured. The café had been a garage with old beams she brought up to code only to paint them to look old again. “The only things left alone were the bricks and the bamboo in the courtyard,” she says.

Favorite feature

Kittinger loves the garden cottage for charm and versatility. And, in keeping with her “everything here is for sale” theme, she sells these cottages. “It’s a [display model], but we use it for dining in a great atmosphere, and it’s the background for my photo shoots,” she says. The cottages are made in England, and retail anywhere from $15,000 to $45,000.

Most affordable feature

The crooked garden shutters that Kittinger loves to use as a photo background. They cost 99 cents from a Habitat store.

Best investment

“The garden [where she serves meals]. It’s multifunctional and provides the bread and butter,” says Kittinger.

The takeaway

Not every retailer wants an English cottage ambiance, but Kittinger has shown that repurposing what already exists and then incorporating all the merchandise, from the candles and napkin rings to the garden cottage, as décor can be affordable and drive sales.


Patellini’s fun, funky spacewith its salvaged paneling and custom banquettes.2 Restaurant Patellini’s Pizza   

Patellini’s move to a new location just across Main Street in downtown Sarasota gave the family business the opportunity to brighten its image. But the storefront space needed to incorporate the kitchen, plus a roomy dining area, within the long, narrow space of a former arcade. The answer was a fresh, funky look done affordably. Customers love the new spot and business is booming, says Patellini’s manager, Anish Patel.


Fit a restaurant into a narrow, historic former arcade and give it panache.


“We had to deal with one big blank and very long wall,” says Sarasota designer Kurt Lucas of JKL Design Group. “And there wasn’t a lot of money to work with.”


Edgy and inexpensive contemporary elements were combined with the infrastructure of the historic ’20s arcade. The resulting balance of shiny and flat, old and new added whimsy that was ideal for serving great pizza.

Client’s favorite feature

The entryway's exposed industrial water pipes keep the building's historic appeal.

Most expensive element

Long custom-fit banquettes on each side of the dining room offer flexibility and more seating in the narrow room.

Most affordable element

For $200, Lucas bought a trailer full of old grooved boards in every color imaginable at Sarasota Architectural Salvage, then had them installed on the long wall as a textural element. On the opposite wall, the restaurant’s name is spelled in salvage letters that cost just $20 to $40 each.

The takeaway

The wall boards share the same tone and weathered quality, unifying the room while adding interesting texture. The same idea can work by combining different wallpapers, inexpensive posters, fabric swatches or photographs as long as a common theme and tone tie them together.


IntegraClick’s large multipurpose room allows employees to recharge their batteries; inset above, the spiral slide; inset below, a colorful fitness room.3 Office IntegraClick/Clickbooth

In 2010, IntegraClick and Clickbooth, a Sarasota-based Internet marketing company with approximately 95 employees, relocated to a big new campus at Honore Avenue and University Parkway, renamed IntegraClick Professional Park. The architectural firm of Fawley-Bryant was hired to design a sunlit casual environment to inspire and recharge the batteries of IntegraClick’s youthful techies on staff.


To transform an empty, cavernous shell into an innovative, playful space for young web workers who often spend 12 to 16 hours a day at the office.


Two floors, totaling 42,000 square feet, had to be designed and installed within six months, and it had to allow the staff the opportunity to take a break, exercise and have a snack before heading back to their offices.


Tech workers spend many hours in cubicles, so Fawley-Bryant created recreational spaces for a fitness center, running track, a multipurpose cafeteria (with video games and a pool table), even a spiral slide that connects the first and second floors. Bright colors amp up the energy. “We wanted to give them bright, almost trendy colors,” says Sarah Colandro, director of design at Fawley-Bryant, “but in a way that will let them change out the spaces and materials inexpensively later.” The executive offices and conference rooms are on the outer rim of the building to allow for natural light. “It also cut down on electricity cost,” says Eric Grindley, general counsel, IntegraClick.

Favorite feature

The spiral slide, custom-made for adults.

Most expensive element

The glass storefront that runs along all the office spaces.

Most affordable

Bright paint colors, plus inexpensive materials not normally associated with a corporate environment, such as vinyl floor tiles. “They’re affordable but have a cool factor with a look like corrugated steel panels,” says Colandro.

What customers and employees love most

The seven conference rooms. Each one features a different sports team, whether college or professional. (The executives came from different areas of the country and got to vote on these.)

The takeaway

Consider your product or service and how your employees actually work, then make the space fit the corporate culture.

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