Moving an office can be quite a headache, but when you find the perfect place, it is very rewarding. Nate Strine was looking for a new home for his business, On-Target Design. Strine started the creative firm when he was just out of college.
“With a business and economics degree, I wasn’t happy with the jobs available for new college grads,” he says. “I wasn’t the type to go sit in a cubical and open Excel. When I decided to start my own business it definitely had it challenges. Not only was I fresh out of college -I knew I wanted to be in the creative field- but I didn’t have a creative or design degree.”
Finding people in the creative field that encouraged him, gave him confidence in his business idea.
The first office for On-Target Design was a small office in historic Dublin below Oscars Restaurant.
“Once we outgrew that, we had another suite in historic Dublin configured for us,” he says.
The company remained in Dublin for six years and then moved to a creative flex space in New Albany. Strine and his wife also moved their home-base to New Albany, allowing her to be closer to her work as well.
“We love the community over here,” he says.
While the flex space was enjoyable, with a creative atmosphere, 1500-square-feet of space, and fun extras like space to have a tiki bar, Strine felt that leasing never let him fully express his creative ideas and desires for their office. Then he saw the property at 45 North High Street.
“I had been driving by the old house in historic New Albany for years, and thought it had some great potential,” he says. “It was a mess though. I didn’t know if I had it in me to covert this old house into an office.”
Strine has overhauled a couple of homes already, and decided he was up for the challenge. Located in New Albany’s historic area, the building was a home built in the late 1800s, and was possibly the site of the village’s blacksmith. A small home with 860-square-feet and rooms with an odd layout, the place did need a lot of work.
“Everything had to be redone,” says Strine. “All new plumbing and electrical. We moved walls, added dormers, put in new flooring, and more. We tried to keep as much original character as we could, all while keeping the original footprint of the house.”
The team exposed brick and worked on the original hardwood floors to bring them back to life.
Austin Sullivan, heads up the development of websites for the company’s clients, and also has a background in architecture. That came in handy for the remodel. Sullivan drew up the plans to overhaul the facade and knew what was needed to get it turned into a commercial space.
The exterior was given a clean and modern facelift and looks completely different. New siding was put on. The added dormers give the space a bright presence on the street, waking up what felt like a sleepy eyesore. Shrubs were pulled out, the overbearing porch was downsized to a discreet awning, and a similar awning was placed over the garage doors. The single garage door was replaced with two barn doors.
During the remodel, the city of New Albany redid the sidewalks and curbs, and while it was difficult to work on the space while the extra construction was happening, the end result is stunning. And that’s just the outside.
Entering through the heavy, dark wooden door places you in a small foyer with steps leading upstairs to Strine’s and Sullivan’s offices. To the left is the conference room. The lighting fixture was made using an old canoe. Walls were removed to reveal the staircase. Raised ceilings create an open feel. A room running along the back of the house was divided into a new bathroom and a storage room. A pool table provides a place for downtime and the balls add pops of color that play off the colorful license plate wall.
“The license plates were from our old tiki bar at the previous space,” says Strine. “A lot of family and friends gave us those, and we found some special ones through auctions.”
The team opened up the wall next to the garage, creating a breezy room with a kitchen and bar and a visually connecting the space.
“On nice days, we open the garage doors and enjoy the weather,” says Strine.
The office has a relaxed, yet energized feel, and brings in the outdoors with the rich wood accents found throughout.
Sullivan sourced metal roofing for the interior ceiling from an old barn in New Albany. An old barn in Marion, where Sullivan and Strine grew up, was the source of other woods for interior decor, walls, and furniture.
“Most of our finishings are handmade from reclaimed or industrial products,” says Strine. “With the remodel of this building, we feel we’ve created something that fits the aesthetic of the New Albany community.”
The renovation took about a year and a half. The back of the property looks out onto a stream with trees and they would like to extend a deck off the back to enjoy more of the outdoor scenery.
Strine self-funded his business and business growth, only taking a loan to help purchase the building for the new office. On-Target Design currently employs Strine, Sullivan, and one other employee, Chad Ronske.
“Austin is a high school teammate and friend and we were roommates after college for a year or two,” says Strine. “Austin was looking for a career change and we found a way to make it work!”
Ronske interned at On-Target Design while attending college at Ohio University and was hired once he graduated.
“I like to keep a solid team around me and will do what I have to make sure they are taken care of,” says Strine in reference to some of the challenges one can have as a small business owner. “There are certainly ups and downs,” he says. “There have definitely been times I have put my employees pay before my own.”
He particularly likes to be his own boss, and seeing the teams’ hand work culminate in an Emmy for a video they produced last year is really exciting.
On-Target Design is a member of the New Albany Chamber of Commerce and enjoys being a part of the New Albany community. Each year they work to mentor a high school or college student.
“We love the community and the growth it is having,” says Strine. “I’ve lived here for eight years and it’s great to live and work in the same community. To have a creative space that you enjoy going to makes work great.”
Photos by Anne Evans. Before photo via Franklin County Auditor.
To learn more about On-Target Design, visit On-TargetDesign.com.
Do you know of, have, or work in, a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, please contact Anne Evans.