St. Louis Park entrepreneur Janie Finn has transformed her industrial office
space into a welcoming oasis.
TAKE A LOOK AT THE PHYSICAL SPACE AROUND YOU—maybe your living room, an office or a coffee shop. Does the space feel utilitarian or like a work of art? One St. Louis Park businesswoman believes form and function should meet in harmony in the spaces where we work and play. Janie Finn, an executive recruiter for the medical device industry, transformed a building’s empty shell—truly a blank slate—into a gorgeous and functional office space for her company, Finnesse Partners.
For many years, Finn worked for a large recruiting organization with offices in downtown Minneapolis. When the firm closed its doors in 2012, Finn opened her own business—now Finnesse Partners—in Minnetonka. Though leaving her previous company was bittersweet, Finn calls it “a wonderful parting,” adding the firm helped provide startup costs and furniture for her new office. “They wanted me to have the business that I built,” she says.
“We outgrew the [office] in Minnetonka within six months,” says Finn. Her realtor eventually led her to a familiar building on West 36th Street, right around the corner from Finn’s St. Louis Park home. “The moment I walked in, I knew this was the place,” she recalls. Finn signed the lease in April 2013 and started a whirlwind of remodeling, taking a totally gutted industrial space and turning it into her dream office. “We did flooring, carpet, wallpaper, ceilings, doors, windows … It was unbelievable. It’s a beautiful space.”
Finn wanted to maintain some of the building’s industrial vibe. “The ceilings were exposed, so all of the ductwork and the electrical conduits were visible. That was a good start,” interior designer Cher Harris says. “I know Janie is a little edgy and was going to look outside of the box a little bit.”
Above all, Finn wanted her clients and her employees to feel at home. “I want everyone to feel like we will take care of them,” says Finn. “I didn’t want a stuffy atmosphere, the feeling of being buttoned up.” Finn and Harris started with the brand colors of Finnesse Partners as their inspiration. “Orange and gray was a really good color scheme for us,” says Finn.
Harris adds, “Warm colors are very inviting and resonated with [Finn]. All the colors on the walls are very warm and bold oranges, contrasting with the coolness of charcoal gray.” Harris used brown, gray and yellow-striped carpet tiles in the front part of the office, which help achieve a mod look. “I did a user-friendly pattern,” says Harris. “Every so often I’d do a solid orange tile for a pop.”
Not only did the space need to be people-friendly, Finn wanted it to be earth-friendly, too. One of her favorite elements is the wallpaper in her office, which is made out of cork with shimmering orange flecks. And in areas without carpet, Finn and Harris installed non-toxic flooring. “It’s beautiful,” says Finn. “It looks like industrial wood or concrete, but it’s vinyl.”
Other personal touches make the space feel like home. “I’m very into local art,” says Finn, who has added pieces from Twin Cities galleries and art fairs to the office. “And my sister, who is very talented in woodworking, whittled me a sign that says Finnesse Partners,” she adds with a smile.
Is it hard to choose a favorite design element of her gorgeous new office? Oh yes, says Finn. “Cher found a fabulous wallpaper that looks like orange people on a white background, and I love it. It’s very modern,” she says.
Another favorite spot is the office’s cool “bonus room.” “It’s a family room, a meeting room,” explains Harris. “There’s a coffee table that pops up to conference-table height. It’s multipurpose.” Like most parts of Finnesse Partners’ office, the bonus room is functional, beautiful and—most of all—totally welcoming. Although it was never Finn’s dream to start her own company, she calls herself an “accidental” entrepreneur. For her, the office represents a true milestone in her impressive career. “I walk in every day and I could cry. It’s so beautiful here.”See Article