Residential Design Moves into the Corporate Workplace

The lines between home and office design are beginning to blur. Companies like Google have pioneered some of the more modern spaces, setting the tone for informal offices built with collaboration, communication and modularity in mind – residential meets commercial design.

Many organizations are adopting this style of workspace with the intent of boosting employee morale and productivity through comfortable, open spaces that foster connection, while providing the amenities of home.

Residential Meets Commercial Design

Image: Mohawk Group

As more organizations provide flexible hours and workspaces, a welcoming environment is being offered to entice employees to the office. As a result, a large array of new materials and their application are giving way to blurring the boundaries between commercial and residential design, starting with flooring.

Residential Meets Commercial Design

“We are definitely seeing a trend towards creating a more comfortable home-like experience in the office,” says Susan Quinn, Account Executive of Toronto-based, Mohawk Group. “People are spending more than half of their entire day at the office. In order to retain and ensure employees are happy at work there is an influx of residential finishes and concepts being brought into the corporate environment.”

Quinn explains there is now a stronger focus on amenity areas, including increased opportunities for touchdowns as well as areas that are plug and play. Kitchens are becoming more residential with comfortable seating and gathering areas. There is also more attention focused on interfacing with outdoor areas. “Clients are wanting softer, more tactile surfaces with lots of big pattern and texture. I am also seeing a new demand for wood.”

Commercial Flooring EOne

Photo: Darwin Fisher, Entertainment One

The installation of new materials that offer bright, vibrant colours and more detail are becoming the standard. Dull neutrals and unassuming colours are being replaced by energetic, creative selections to match the more informal furniture now being found in collective work areas and office entrances. Corporate designs are becoming multifunctional in nature and include furniture that is smaller, modular and can be easily rearranged. Stiff chairs are being replaced by plush couches. Traditional cubicles are being replaced and seen as segregated work areas of the past.


Residential Meets Commercial Design

Image: Mohawk Group

Residential Meets Commercial: Designers Using More Colours, Textures and Accents

The blending of home and office design has also been seen at Darwin Fisher. Elizabeth Zhou, Darwin Fisher’s Project Co-ordinator notes that when she first started in the industry, most commercial projects were straightforward functional builds. There wasn’t much in the way of design and many projects were fairly cookie cutter.  “I’ve seen designers use the same concept for multiple projects. Gradually I started to see more conceptual drawings and colour/texture palettes (which were rare 4 years ago). Now they envision how the space would look, showing more attention is being paid to the aesthetic feeling rather than just functionality,” says Zhou.

She sees a continuing pattern of “More resources being spent on accents and textures in the design of a space. There are a lot of accent colours, borders and feature within walls/floors in commercial projects, even in non-public spaces. Seems like people are realizing productivity and morale would be better if employees weren’t looking at the same colours walls and floors all day!”  With today’s choices, Darwin Fisher clients are much more inclined to request accent colours and textures even if it comes at an extra cost. “We now usually field a flooring choice being cut in with one or two accents colours. We also see more herringbone and chevron installation patterns of carpet, LVT and porcelain tiles,” says Zhou.

Residential and Commercial Flooring

Photo: Darwin Fisher, Entertainment One

These types of features have been made possible by the introduction of plank carpet tiles and specialty cut LVT & porcelain tiles (see our previous blog posts), that has been made possible with new product design technology. Floor and wall finishes are now available in all shapes (hexagon, triangle, plank and tile) and sizes.

“I also see very clever cost saving ways to imitate expensive design: thin format porcelain panels that look like marble slabs, LVT with graining and texture to look and feel like real wood, rectangular porcelain tile with 3D design to look like a chevron pattern etc, which are all much more economical to purchase and install,” concludes Zhou.

Residential Meets Commercial At Your Local Dentist

In our May blog on dental clinics, a more residential feel can also be seen from the cold, clinical environments of the past. Here we see residential meets commercial through the patient experience, which has become a key factor in driving both visits and retention. Demands for new aesthetics include warmer and more inviting colours. Elements such as fireplaces, coffee and water stations, iPad stations and free WiFi all play a significant role in both renovations and new builds.

Residential meets Commerical design

Photo: Canadian Dental Construction

“Dentists are now doing everything they can to make the waiting area as comfortable as possible,” said Dan Burns, President of Canadian Dental Construction, who has 30 years of experience in dental office builds and renovations. “One of the first concepts to consider before all else is the flooring. It will dictate the tone for the rest of the office as it will set the style and comfort a dentist wants for its patients.”

These spaces are now being designed to have a more ‘family room’ feel with all of the amenities including, WiFi, water coolers, snacks stations, large screen TVs and comfortable seating.

For information on how to incorporate residential design into your next commercial build or renovation, please contact