Ahoy! Pacific Helm's Happy Modern Office

Ahoy! Pacific Helm's Happy Modern Office

Gregory Han
Apr 8, 2013

Name: Pacific Helm HQ
Location: San Francisco, CA
Size: 150 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year

One hundred and fifty square feet. That's smaller than some master bathrooms or walk-in closets. So how do you fit four people to work within such tight quarters? Like an ocean-faring vessel, the small office of San Francisco design studio, Pacific Helm, has been optimized for their "crew" of four...but also get it all done in comfortable, vibrant nautical style!

Pacific Helm turned to Marta Crowe, an interior designer who specializes specifically in designing, decorating, and organizing office spaces for small companies in San Francisco. Marta shaped the space incorporating each of the company's employees personalities, referencing their fashion and penchant for toys and candies with a graphical nautical theme. The space may be small, but the office retains a spacious layout where everyone has their own dedicated space to get work done without bumping elbows.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Happy Modern!

Inspiration: Pacific Helm is a design studio, and the team has an incredibly fun personal style. They like lots of color, tons of candy, and their brand has a playful nautical theme. Jessie Char, Business Lady at Pacific Helm, owns closets full of amazing clothes, one of the most marvelous items – a hot pink pea coat! Really, any of her outfits could be a muse for an entire room. And Louie Mantia dresses draper with a hat and vest most everyday, and collects super cool toys!

So to make the team at home the design brings in some nautical elements (without being cheesy) and lots of color, toys, and candy. The separate meeting room follows the same color palette, but is toned down for clients. The company branding can be seen at Pacific Helm.

Favorite Element: The little things – the wooden fish, white painted books, huge jars of candy and all the toys

Biggest Challenge: Making a small white office of 4 people feel fun, without feeling overcrowded.

What Friends Say: "Smaller companies often settle for less-than-great work spaces, which is a little sad. This space shows how the design of an office can really add to the character and culture of the company."

Biggest Embarrassment: Jessie's desk is always covered in ugly paperwork, a necessary evil of business ownership.

Proudest DIY: Waves! The stencil took a bit of work, but in the end the paint went on flawlessly! 

Biggest Indulgence: The school clock on the meeting room wall. Worth every penny with its smooth second hand!

Best Advice: Don't be afraid to be relentlessly fun in your office space! Oh, and water your plants.

Dream Sources: Blu Dot, Jonathan Adler, DWR, Lotus Bleu, Flora Grubb, and many other incredible local SF boutiques. 

Resources of Note:


• Benjamin Moore: Icy Blue, Spa Day, Caribbean Azure
• Behr: Dark Cavern


  • Parsons Desks: West Elm
  • Yellow Metal Stool: CB2
  • Peg Coat Rack: CB2
  • Shelving: IKEA
  • Candy Jars: Container Store
  • Cork Tiles: Amazon
  • Scenic Drive Prints: Three Fish Studios
  • Rising Sun Print: Wayne Pate


  • School Clock: West Elm 
  • Orange Chair: CB2 Couch: Urban Outfitters 
  • Odyssey Dining Table: CB2 
  • Fiddle Fig
  • Succulents, Air plants: Flora Grubb

Thanks Marta, Kim, Jessie, Louie, Brad, Shahrouz!

(Images: Kim A. Thomas)

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