This Pennsylvania building has had many lives: a diner, a gun shop, and most recently, a blinds store. When interior designer Brittany Hakimfar and her husband Ben first saw it, they only saw the future. The run-down space would soon become the home of Far Studio, her full-service interior design and lifestyle studio. Though the space needed work (like, a lot of work), a construction mishap ended up being a blessing in disguise. The crew put an accidental hole in the ceiling, revealing that the drywall covered a beautiful wood beam ceiling. They removed the drywall, raised the ceilings, and brought in a rustic concrete floor. This would serve as the perfect starting point to bring Far Studio’s textured, layered aesthetic to life.
Today, the husband-and-wife team use it as both an inspirational workspace and a place to keep that work/life balance in check. Below, she tells us more. (And don’t miss her Instagram Takeover on the @ruemagazine account today!)
Tell us about the studio. How did you know it was the right spot for Far/Studio?
Our studio is located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, a small suburb about 15 minutes outside of Philadelphia. I grew up in this area and after living and working in LA for 6 years, my husband and I moved here to raise our kids. We wanted them to experience the East Coast upbringing that I had. My husband is actually born and raised in LA, so it took a bit of convincing to get him to agree to the move, but after living here for 4 years we know it was the right decision.
We were aware that we were bringing a very different look and style of design to this area and hoped that people would see how great it was, but we did not expect how quickly we would grow. It was evident early on that we needed a proper studio space to run our business. Initially, we were working out of our home and usually our cars, but with two toddlers at home—the need for an office became very important. We looked for about 4 months before coming upon the space. We knew we wanted a stand-alone building that we could transform into the “Far Studio” brand as we don’t see ourselves as just designers, but also as a lifestyle. We wanted people to walk into our space and immediately feel the vibe that we bring to our interiors.
We drove past the building that was to become our studio and saw a “For Sale by Owner” sign on the window. I just knew that this was it and had a gut feeling about the potential of this beat-up run-down building painted in the ugliest yellow tone. The building needed a lot of work, but that’s exactly what we were looking for—something we could take down to the studs and completely transform. It is also located on a quiet street that has a really nice residential vibe with a park behind it, I could imagine our kids playing at the park while we worked. This was the space we had always envisioned.
You mentioned the yellow paint. So, what condition was the building really in at the beginning, and what were the main changes you knew you’d have to make?
The property was in bad shape and would need a lot of repairs. The first thing we did was paint the ugly yellow exterior black as well as all the gutters and trim. We also got all new doors and windows. On the interior, we gutted everything down to the studs to create two large open spaces. We also coincidentally saw that there was a beautiful, reclaimed wood beam ceiling behind ugly ceiling tiles and once we exposed that we knew we could not cover it up again.
We added a powder room with a custom floating solid stone sink, white oak herringbone floor and lime plaster walls done by a local artist. We also added a small kitchenette / bar area. I had fallen in love with a stone at the stone yard months before and had our stone guy reserve it for me knowing that I would one day find the perfect place for it. This stone was eventually used for our bar with an integrated stone sink, backsplash, and stone shelf. Other things we did was add a concrete floor to add to the rustic vibe. The whole interior was painted a bright white (Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore) and the reclaimed ceiling was also painted white.
How does the space function for Far Studio?
We split the space up into two large spaces. One is a showroom / conference room that displays our vintage and custom one-of-a-kind pieces as well as our art and artifacts, and the other space we use as our office and for display of samples and more art and artifacts. The whole space is an experience and every inch of it was thought out and truly given a detail to make it special. I bring clients to this space so that they can get a sense of what we can do and our overall design aesthetic. One of my favorite design details are the drywall shelves behind my husband Ben’s desk. I had seen inspiration for this and was so excited to see it come to reality so beautifully.
What is a typical day like in the office?
On a typical day, Ben gets into the office pretty early—usually by 7:30AM—while I am home getting the kids dressed and fed and ready for school. I usually try to wake up at 5AM each day to have some quiet time to check emails before the kids wake up. I drop them both off at school by 9 and am at the office by 9:10 am. One of the most important things about the studio is that it is located 5 min from our home and even closer to our kids’ schools. We knew that we wanted to be able to drop them off and pick them up from school each day and take them to activities, and the location allows us to still be present in their day to day while running a business.
Once I am in the office, I spend the first 30 -40 min going through emails and catching up, and Ben and I discuss the open projects and things that need to get done. Usually, I have my first meeting by 10am and then am bouncing from job site to job site throughout the day. Every day is different, but we are very hands-on, and I like to be able to check on the progress of each job on a regular basis. I do try to schedule certain days where I am in the office all day to get design work done, but as anyone in this business knows there is so much going on and you really have to be prepared for anything on any given day.
Working with your spouse is bound to have challenges. How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Working with a spouse is definitely unique, but we truly love it and love being able to run our own business and control our own schedules. We both have very clear roles within the business and try not to blur the lines and this really helps things run smoothly. I control everything design / creative, while Ben controls the entire business side. We truly have a great system that works for us and we love what we do. We both have our strengths and try to use those to the best of our business—some days we may argue but we are pretty much on the same page with our end goal and know that we are in this together to build a business for our family and to continue to grow Far Studio to everything it can be.