Name: MULU, with Doris Steere (Art Director + Designer)
Location: Hollywood — Los Angeles, California
Size: 3,000 square feet
Years lived in: 3 months
Mulu is a tech startup, founded by Amaryllis Fox, that powers on-page shopping for publishers like Hearst, Conde Nast, Huffington Post, and Martha Stewart. Mulu's first year of business was spent in a shared community space, which confirmed their need for a larger office to call their own.
Doris Steere, the company's Art Director and Designer, contacted me about the tour and shared her great pride in all the work it took getting the office together. "We got the keys on a Monday morning while our CEO was in New York for meetings. She was set to return Wednesday morning, and my goal was for her to walk into a (mostly) completed space, with everyone working as if we’d been there forever. It was no small feat, and the team helped me a lot to make sure it happened. The look on her face when she walked in was priceless and absolutely made it all worth it. "
Given a small budget and free reign to furnish as she pleased, Doris began to scavenge local thrift shops, small boutiques, and of course Craigslist. Upcycled objects, reclaimed furniture and small accessories are what really highlight the personality of the office design. I especially love their use of printed quotes as artwork. "
You don’t have to have a huge budget to create a good-looking space.
Creativity and some elbow grease can go a long way."
Designed like a live/work loft, this office houses communal desks, a formal dining space, breakfast/bar stools, and a cozy living room area. There are three private rooms, all designed for peace and quiet, and possibly a cocktail and a nap. One room is lit beautifully by a skylight and has a teepee you can work in. I really felt that Mulu's office was a great example of how they think outside the box and aim to create a rad environment on any platform.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Vintage-eclectic meets your grandfather’s den. We’ve got a
mix of vintage, modern, handmade, and recycled items throughout our space. Every
piece is meaningful and comes with a story.
Inspiration: The basis of my inspiration stems from the Mulu culture. I’m
also inspired by the organized clutter in flea markets and thrift stores and
the displays at Anthropologie. i’ve also got stacks of design magazines (including
every issue of Domino) and tend to whittle away the hours reading design blogs.
Favorite Element: I honestly love just about every single element in the
space. Each piece has a story of where it came from (and the deal I scored),
but if I had to pick just one, it would be the “HeatStream” propane heater. It
reminds us of all of where we began and keeps us humble. Mulu started out (literally) in a garage in Palo Alto with no insulation (it was a garage, after all) and we’d fire up the heat
stream flame for a few minutes in order to raise the temperature a few degrees.
We probably lost a few brain cells along the way, but the smell of propane will
always remind me of those frigid days, glued to our computers, and the
passion we breathed. The passion continues to pour out of us, but now we’ve got
Biggest Challenge: Appealing to the masses: I wanted to make each and every
person happy and comfortable. Blending practical with beautiful is tough,
especially when it needs to work for many people with different needs. I wanted an office that didn’t feel like an office.
What Friends Say:
“You WORK here?” “Can I move in?”
Area Where There Is Room For Improvement/Future Projects: I put this together in such a short amount of
time and definitely want to continue to improve it as we go. It was most
important that moving didn’t disturb the workflow, so time was of the essence. Eventually,
I’d like to paint all the doorframes black, add some more rugs, build some
shelves in the kitchen, and work on outfitting our outdoor space… in due time.
Proudest DIY: I’m proud of all of them, but when the pressure’s on, I tend
to thrive. I knew Bethany was coming to photograph and I had a blank wall I
needed to fill, so I drove to Michaels, picked up some supplies and taught
myself how to embroider. I was up until the wee hours of the night, but I
created a fun installation that was low-cost, high-impact and totally fun. I
love that they aren’t perfect, which makes them feel friendly. The arrows are
symbolic and reference an inside joke we have here at Mulu that adding an arrow
to any design makes it better!
My mom cross-stitches, and growing up I spent many evenings
cuddled up to her on the couch while she tirelessly and meticulously stitched.
Three years later she’d have a beautiful, intricate masterpiece which she’d frame.
While my attention span and need for instant gratification would make it hard to embark on a multi-year project, my few hour version was completely
Biggest Indulgence: I’m not sure we “indulged” in anything, really. We were very
practical but splurged where it mattered. Still, those splurges (like the
conference table and dome chairs) were a fraction of their worth and are total statement
Best Advice: Make your space fit your needs and focus on the
functionality first. If the space doesn’t function, it won’t matter how
beautiful it is. Also, having someone you trust to help with electrical and
installation is an absolute must.
HD Buttercup, Lawson Fenning, Anthropologie
A HUGE shout out to Clarage Dockery, whose assistance was a godsend. From creating a rafter to hang our giant chandelier to building/installing our shelves, painting our walls and everything in between, this space wouldn’t be possible without his can-do attitude and immense knowledge/talent/skill. Thanks, Doc!
Resources of Note:
- Green tufted bench: Daisy’s Antiques
- Desk: “El Torito Shop” Thrift store
- White Ribba Frames: Ikea
- Chandelier: DIY by me (globes and edison bulb from cb2,
chain and twine from Home Depot, chandelier kit from Ikea, airplants from Home
- cowhide rug: La Brea
- Large vase: ikea
- Candle, wooden calendar, pencil holder: Target
- Bell: World Market
- Pair of red floral petite chairs: Addison Antiques in Palo
- Vintage pull down map of Asia: Addison Antiques in Palo Alto
- Medium Persian rug: craigslist
- Long sofa: the Hutton Sofa from room & board //
- “Think bigger”
print: etsy ; frame: Ikea
- Cage chandelier lamp: craigslist
- Pipe ladder: DIY, parts from Home Depot
- Fiddle leaf tree and various plants: Mickey Hargitay Plants
- Basket: Target
- Floor lamp: Ikea
- Wall sconces: West elm // craigslist
- Burl wood coffee table: Estate sale
- Coffee table books: collected from our homes
- Gold bowl: Ikea
- Glass lamps: Ikea
- White shades: Ikea
- Burlap shade: Target
- Moroccan side tables: craigslist
- Chaise sofa: our ceo’s storage
- Multi color throw: Anthropologie (sale)
- Dome Chairs: Restoration Hardware // craigslist
- Vintage Wassily Leather Chair: garage sale
- Dark cowhide: authentic from Austin Texas, borrowed from a
- Round marble coffee table: friend’s storage
- Brown pillows: target
- Braided tree: ikea
- Basket: Orchid Supply Store
- Round white mirror: cb2 // craigslist
- Helvetic alphabet print: ikea
- “Daring to begin” print: etsy; frame: Ikea
- vintage wooden stools: garage sale
- mason jars: amazon
- Round drink tower: Lawson Fenning
- Large Persian rug: craigslist
- Conference table: Restoration Hardware // craigslist
- Capri Blue candle: Anthropologie
- Woodard Sculptura wire side chairs: Apartment Therapy
- Sheepskins: ikea
- Giant Orb Chandelier: HD Buttercup // craigslist
- Dark brown desks: ikea
- Small vases: cb2
- Herman Miller Aeron desk chairs: amazon, from our old office
- Light up “m” “u” “l” “u”: Alameda Flea Market
- Reclaimed shelves: DIY; wood from craiglist, parts from Home
- Globe, spool, vintage
knick-knacks: Lawson Fenning and Flea Markets
- Demilune table: friend’s storage
- One-of-a-kind wooden lamp: Lawson Fenning
- “Passion” poster: DIY by me (own
the original, but got lost in the move, no disrespect to the artist, just
needed something to fill the frame until we can find it!)
- Frame: Pier 1
- Macrame plant holder: amazon
- Teepee: DIY by me (drop cloth,
dowels, twine: Home Depot)
- Wrench art: Alameda Flea
- Rocking horse: Alameda Flea
- Vintage Backgammon: Lawson Fenning
- Bentwood chair: friend’s storage
- Leather beanbag: Apartment Therapy Classifieds
- Board games: craigslist, world market, amazon
- White sheepskin rug: Angel Rugs downtown LA
- Tranquil room
- White couch, chairs, table, rug: our ceo’s storage
- Wall art: cb2, yarn installation: DIY by me
- Gold lanterns: Target
- Glass milk jar: World Market
- Hanging chandelier: DIY (glass balls from cb2)
- Floor lamp: West elm floor model
- Brainstorm room
- Whiteboard walls: 4x8 sheets of whiteboard Lowe’s
- Glass table: zgallerie // craigslist
- White fold chairs: ikea, from our old office
- Dartboard: ebay
- Darts: etsy
- Sofa: the Hutton Sofa from room & board // friend’s
- California flag: ebay, tea-stained by me
- Leather patch ottoman: Restoration Hardware // craigslist
- Wire tray: Lawson Fenning
- Instagram poster: Posterfuse (startup based in Atlanta with
crazy-awesome customer service and high-quality product!)
- Embroidered hoops: DIY by me
- Hanging chair: craigslist
- Vintage Aztec pillows: Addison Antiques
- Brown and off white pillows: Target
Thank you to Leah Jacobson (Senior Director of Communications) and Doris Steere (Art Director + Designer) for coordinating this photo shoot.
Also, big thank you to my dear friend Jake Harrison for an amazing introduction!
(Images: Bethany Nauert )
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