When Front Studio renovated its downtown New York City office, principals Yen Ha, LEED AP, and Michi Yanagishita applied a light but sure hand. “We try not to be overly fussy,” Ha says of the firm's general design approach.

The 1,500-square-foot space already featured some appealing characteristics: original hardwood floors, a pressed-tin ceiling, and exposed brick walls. Ha and Yanagishita opted to leave these items in place, adding quirky touches such as sliding wall partitions made of old desktops from the firm's former studio. Oak-framed nooks hold a small pantry and a copy/fax station, and hexagonal floor tiles form an unexpected backsplash over the pantry sink.

Friends at the local graphic design company Omnivore created a custom, black-and-white wallpaper pattern for the studio, incorporating and blending drawings of buildings, flowers, and abstract images. “The wallpaper is very feminine, but architectural at the same time,” Ha explains.