A Manhattan Office Renovation Expands Working Space

An office renovation in Manhattan helped this tech brand update a full floor while modernizing their workspace

commercial office renovation

“After” photos by Kate Glicksberg for Sweeten

  • Project: A tech brand expands office space in its NYC headquarters
  • Location: Manhattan, New York
  • Sweeten general contractor
  • Interview with Piper Skillman for Chapter Interiors
  • Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Sweeten: How did you and your client come together?

Piper: Packet sought an interior design agency to align its growing office space in Lower Manhattan with its dynamic, emerging brand. Packet’s co-founder and CMO, Jacob Smith, reached out to another one of our tech clients (White Ops, who is also a customer of Packet) for a referral, and after noting our work there, gave us a call.


Sweeten: What is the client’s brand?

Piper: Packet creates the high-touch aspect of high-tech — making cloud infrastructure more delightful to consume for the top digital businesses in the world. Clients, partners, and employees needed to experience the brand the moment they entered the office and throughout their journey in the space.

Sweeten: What led to the opening of this new office space?

Piper: The tech company, which was founded in 2014, had recently doubled its staff and was planning on another year of team growth. While the company is about 70% remote, NYC is its headquarters and one of its global “hubs” where the team gathers regularly. When another floor in the building they occupy became available, Packet immediately grabbed it.


Sweeten: How do your new design and the materials used to represent your brand?

Piper: The brand colors dictated our palette but it was important for us as designers to go beyond an easy and obvious link. It was essential to convey their brand experience throughout the space.

When selecting materials for their Manhattan office renovation, the sense of tangible authenticity—a certain “human-ness”—guided our choices. We opted for wood floors with character, felt walls, linoleum work surfaces, and a special dyed-through MDF that you leave exposed (as opposed to painting.) In addition to tactile fabrics, patterns that reference those seen in their cloud data centers further connected the space to the physical aspects of the product and brand.

In terms of space planning, Chapter Interiors strived for activity-based workplace design. Instead of asking the person to adjust to the space; we investigate how clients work and build spaces to suit. This results in an array of environments for employees—spaces that facilitate certain aspects of work and help optimize performance. An example was helping Packet design for different types of work (e.g. talk-heavy sales vs headphones-on engineering) while finding places for people to gather, recharge, exchange ideas, or be active.

office phone booth(Above) A phone booth for calls and video meetings

Sweeten: With companies working remotely because of COVID-19, do you foresee companies downsizing their commercial workspaces? How will office spaces change and service in the post-COVID world?

Piper: Yes! Reducing your footprint is an excellent opportunity to redesign your space (and save money.) In the short term post-COVID world, barriers will be erected and procedures will be put in place to minimize germ transmission. The longer-term implications are rethinking why people should go to the office.

Companies still need space for employees to gather. Moving forward, I see workplaces geared towards collaboration, team building, and brand connectivity with consumers and partners. Dedicated desks and independent work while at the office is less and less important. Numerous studies during the pandemic have proven that working from home does not hinder overall productivity.

It makes sense to combine working from home with time at the office. The best analogy I’ve heard so far is that working from home versus going into the office will be similar to eating at home versus going out to a restaurant. Employers need to make coming into the office special by providing spaces that foster activities that are worth traveling for. This ties into our strong belief in activity-based-workplace-design.


Sweeten: How was your vision executed by working with your Sweeten general contractor?

Piper: The site manager was wonderful. From day one it was clear she cared about the quality of work and was very hands-on. Together, we worked to problem-solve several issues to make sure the final product was cost-effective, durable, and displayed craftsmanship. I would love to work with her again!

Sweeten: How did you, as a client, work with Sweeten?

Piper: We work with contractors all the time— yet still, find the process of finding the right contractor daunting. For Packet’s office renovation in Manhattan, I had very targeted needs, and Sweeten helped me quickly vet and compare contractors.

Sweeten: Can you describe the “before” space?

Piper: Words can’t describe this space before! It was raw, with filthy carpet and random paint patches throughout. Bad shape… But the potential that Packet saw was great, with pervasive natural light, airy ceiling height, and breathtaking views.

When starting a business, here’s how to finance a brick-and-mortar renovation.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

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Clovelly Coffee Remodels in Manhattan’s Chelsea with a Nod to Australia

An Australian chef opens up for coffee lovers

With an opportunity to make a mark in NYC, Eliot, an Australian chef, opens his first café stateside. The 175-square-foot space he found in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea was disheveled and in need of a makeover. He came to Sweeten, a renovation platform connecting renovators with vetted general contractors, and found a contractor who would transform it into an espresso and coffee shop with the feeling of an Aussie beachside.

Chelsea espresso bar

“After” photos by Kate Glicksberg for Sweeten

PROJECT: An entrepreneur opens his first storefront in NYC

LOCATION: 423 Ninth Avenue, Manhattan, New York

RENOVATION TEAM: Sweeten general contractor

INTERVIEW WITH: Clovelly Coffee founder Eliot Ritchie

Australian chef Eliot Richie

Sweeten: What is Clovelly Coffee?

Eliot: Clovelly is an extension of my love for the Australian café culture. We carefully select coffee cherries from around the world, which are roasted and brewed with love and passion. Our goal was to create a cozy space in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Here, you can engage with your barista while enjoying a coffee from our weekly rotating menu of single-origin beans and pastries.

Sweeten: Where did the idea for the business come from?

Eliot: Clovelly Coffee is a café inspired by Clovelly, a Sydney beachside suburb and my Australian hometown.


Sweeten: What led to the opening of this new brick-and-mortar space?

Eliot: After making the move to Manhattan with my wife, we quickly connected with this vibrant city and the New Yorkers who shared the love for coffee.

As a working chef in Sydney, I ran my first successful café for five years. Now in New York, Clovelly is a family-owned business and my second venture in continuing my passion for coffee and food with an Aussie edge.

Sweeten: How does your new café design and the materials used represent your brand?

Eliot: The design of the space has a distinct beach-y feel. The use of white evokes an Aussie beachside café feel with gold/brass finishes. By adding splashes of yellow and blue (pulling from the colorful textures found at Clovelly Beach), we recreated the golden sun and sand and the blue in the Pacific Ocean from our hometown.

Sweeten: How was your vision executed by working with your Sweeten general contractor?

Eliot: Our contractor was instrumental in the process. They helped us find solutions in real-time and helped us stay on budget. They also offered alternatives to issues that arose.

In a small space, we had challenges fitting in plumbing pipes. However, by making adjustments to walls and getting creative with the direction of the pipes, we were able to make it all fit.


Sweeten: How did you, as a client, work with Sweeten?

Eliot: Sweeten kept in contact with me throughout the process. We reached out to them whenever we needed extra advice or guidance.

Sweeten: How do you think Sweeten can help entrepreneurial business owners like yourself?

Eliot: They are experts at connecting you with a contractor who is the right fit for you. They also help you interpret quotes so you can make this crucial decision.

Sweeten: Can you describe the “before” space?

Eliot: It was damaged and messy, including cracks in the floor tiles.

Sweeten: What’s next for the brand?

Eliot: We just launched a catering menu, with a selection of artisan pastries and freshly brewed coffee. I’m also looking to add a second location with seating.

Head to Chelsea for Clovelly Coffee’s signature Double Ristretto Flat White and vegan and gluten-free baked goods.

Opening a restaurant? Here’s a breakdown of a renovation cost guide of elements from MEPs to permits.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

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