When it comes to design, bigger doesn’t mean better—and this, Erin Newkirk knows firsthand. Last year, she streamlined her stationery company, moving from traditional paper products to the Red Stamp mobile app, which allows you to text, e-mail, tweet, Facebook, and send postcards from your iPhone. No longer needing physical space for paper products and packaging, she closed the company’s 6,000-square-foot warehouse in October, moving the business into her new house in Linden Hills.
The three-bedroom Dutch Colonial was another feel-good downsize from the farmhouse Newkirk lived in with her husband, Chris, and son, Will. One of her immediate favorite features was the sunlit four-season porch—which had potential to be a home office. “I dreamt about this office before seeing it in person,” Newkirk says. The challenge was going to be how to make the teensy interior feel more open and inviting—while at the same time squeezing Red Stamp headquarters into a mere 100 square feet.
Newkirk enlisted designer Alecia Stevens to help her lay the groundwork. The room felt more closed in than it needed to because of its dark, incongruous color scheme—deep red walls and a tan painted floor. Stevens’s first instinct was to wrap the room entirely in white paint—including the floor—to expand the space visually. “The boundaries of wall and floor and ceiling disappear with an all white palette,” Stevens says. She also kept the existing white wooden blinds in place feeling that drapes can close a room down.
Being an avid technophile, Newkirk used design websites such as Pinterest to catalog her furniture finds and file inspiration shots where she and her designer could conveniently view from their phones. “I loved that it was a quick way to see what Erin liked—a tech version of the inspiration board,” Stevens says, who soon caught on to Newkirk’s beachy-glam style. Newkirk also posted an image of a chair she spied in Coastal Living on buyosphere.com, and nearly a dozen users helped her locate it. When it came time to purchase a multi-page scanner, she consulted her gadget bible digitwirl.com for tips on which one to buy—but not before using Twitter to half-teasingly question whether it was possible to spray-paint a scanner white to match her décor. “Not a good idea,” Kristin Appenbrink from realsimple.com tweeted back.
Rather than a bulky file cabinet, Newkirk now relies on her scanner, shredder, and Dropbox, an online file storage system that lets her view her files from every device she owns. The idea of going paperless had been on Newkirk’s mind pre-move, and the newfound small square footage she was facing gave her no choice but to act on it. “Receipts, files, and basically any paper that lives past its purpose feels weighty to me,” she says.“The more house or office you have, the more stuff you obtain.” De-cluttering allowed a fresh clean take on design to shine in Red Stamp’s new digs. And with a clearer desk and a clearer mind, this plucky businesswoman has plenty of room to dream big.