The Commercial Interiors Blog

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June 2017

Three Myths About Commercial Interior Design - Dispelling the Cloud of Confusion

So you’ve decided to open up a business and you’ve just purchased or leased your premises. Now what? Do you fill it with all the things needed to run the business and sort it out as you go? Before you back up the U-Haul to the door and start unpacking you might want to consider hiring a commercial interior designer. Thanks to some preconceived notions and common myths surrounding interior design in general, many might think that employing an commercial interior designer would be a waste of time and money; but before you dismiss the thought, let’s look at it and see what makes using commercial interior design an important aspect of getting your enterprise rolling.

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First, examine some of the things you think know about interior design in general. Many people view interior designers and interior decorators to be the same thing but they are not. Interior designers are college educated and trained in the field and many states require stringent licensing credentials

Second, interior design requires more than just a sense of décor or artistic aesthetics. It demands a working knowledge of how a space will be used. It will often include more complicated information as meeting sustainability or safety requirements for materials like office equipment, or adequate plumbing, ventilation, and a myriad of other details.

Third, many think that interior designers will ignore the owner’s wishes and “do their own thing.” Interior designers are very conscious of the owners wants and needs. They will work within those parameters with the mindset that the final decisions always lie with the property owner.

While these myths are often associated with residential interior design, they are just as applicable to commercial interior design. 


When entering the commercial or business realm, interior design concepts must meet more specific requirements than those in the residential arena. Whether you are building a hotel, a walk-in office that will handle dealing with clientele directly, or setting up an office that will accommodate employees only, the design of those facilities will have a direct impact on the health, happiness and productivity of everyone that walks through the door. Commercial interior designers are acutely aware of the many facets that make this possible.

For example, proper use of natural light and outside vistas will have positive influences on your employees and visitors while helping to reduce the need for using electricity for lighting.


Commercial design is about function yes, but that function is facilitated through form. When thinking about your business space, it’s not just about having the materials and facilities at hand to get the job done. The design plays a critical role in that effort. Proper commercial design can cut monthly overhead costs through the use of objects and such that serve multiple purposes and strategies, while creating a safe environment for employees and customers alike.

A crucial aspect of the commercial interior designers expertise is a robust knowledge of materials that can stand up to commercial levels of use as well as meeting sustainability and safety requirements. Commercial-grade furnishings differ markedly in this respect from residential furnishings. Drapes in hotels have higher fire retardant ratings. Seating in a pediatrician’s office must withstand the exuberance and illness of young children. Office furniture must accommodate employee health requirements. 

The critical thinking aspects of health, safety and welfare unifying the disciplines of art and science are the things that make the job of being a designer so necessary to planning interior spaces and so personally satisfying.
- Beverly Allen, Queens University of Charlotte  

From using the proper carpeting that lets chairs roll back and forth easily to knowing how the placement of emergency exits will affect furnishing layouts, the designer has a great deal more to plan and deal with than just the décor. Contact the experts at Charleston Commercial Interiors and bring your next commercial interior project to life!

Clemson welcomes the new Abernathy Hotel!

The next time you visit Clemson, South Carolina, you will have a new place to stay. Situated directly across from Death Valley, as Clemson Memorial Stadium is affectionately known, the Abernathy, a luxurious boutique hotel, welcomes you to the shopping and entertainment of downtown, the university and university athletic events.


A university town with deep ties in the local community, the Abernathy Hotel began with longtime collaborators Tom Winkopp Development and the Trehel Corporation to address a pressing need for accommodations for visitors to Clemson University. With a variety of accommodation options available, Tom Winkopp Development decided to make its first foray into the hotel sphere of hospitality.

Tom Winkopp Development selected Charlestowne Hotels for their expertise in hotel management to guide the process. With twenty hotel and resort properties in their portfolio, Charlestowne Hotels called up a longstanding collaborator, Charlotte Dennis of Charleston Commercial Interiors, whose superior interior design skills and in-depth knowledge of the stringent specifications of the hospitality industry, could only enhance this new endeavor.

With the collaborative environment and Dennis’ sense of design combined with the resources of Charleston Commercial Interiors, the Abernathy has emerged as a showcase of Clemson. The primary intent was to create an enticing environment  with a  subtle yet sophisticated reflection of the pride and tradition that surrounds Clemson and the university.


Excited to work for the first time with a new construction, every detail needed to be considered. Given this opportunity, Dennis began to flex her innate interior design creativity. Trehel Corporation project manager, Adam Owen, jumped right in to help make these ideas come to life. In true community fashion the Abernathy Hotel engaged many local businesses from local dentist and photographer Mark McInnis and the Clemson University Archives for vintage photographs of Clemson, to Dave Smith of Sign-A-Rama who produced all the art found throughout the Abernathy.

Every design decision was carefully made. Selecting subtle hues reminiscent of the Clemson purple and orange, Dennis recognized that it is possible to be a fan without being a fanatic. The wall colors, the carpet, tiles, draperies and window coverings, the color and wattage of the lighting, and every other minute detail, the Abernathy exudes a comfortable and understated elegance filled with Clemson pride.


Some elements were well thought out, such as something as mundane as your room number:

“You're walking down the hall and you know you're looking for your room number. What we did is rather than just have the room number on the door or beside the door, we used the same acrylic plaque with the metal standoffs,” explains Dennis, “just like a piece of art. It's an acrylic panel beside the door with the metal standoffs, which gives it a little interest, a little je ne sais quoi. It's got the room number and the Abernathy logo. We’ve selected a different image for each floor, an image that speaks to Clemson, like a Clemson paw or Tillman Hall.”

Other design choices happened serendipitously: the homage to the Esso Club, a local institution, with a reflective photograph; the vintage 1950s photograph of a couple, identified as the grandparents of an officer of the Trehel Corporation, having a night out, or the panoramic aerial photograph of Clemson at dusk that once placed above a large bank of windows overlooking the stadium seemed to belong there.


Then there is the tailgating for home Clemson games. For those Tiger supporters who may not want to brave the crowds, or want to avoid inclement weather, or want to have a multigenerational gathering from seniors to toddlers, and still want to be close to the action, the Abernathy created the Hospitality Suite. The Hospitality Suite provided some unique opportunities for some creative design solutions. Standing in front of the door, Dennis, Owen, and Smith threw out ideas as to how the something as simple as a door could convey the energy and excitement of Clemson on game day. Solution: become part of the team as it rushes out onto the field! Except, you will be stepping into the Hospitality Suite and overlooking the extraordinary Clemson tailgate. “The Abernathy has a camera on the front of it that will stream live on game days all the people going up and down. It will be broadcast on the website, streaming live, all the action for the day in real time,” says Michell Weil, co-owner of Charleston Commercial Interiors.


The Great Room was another opportunity to demonstrate how Dennis, Owen and Smith combined ideas to create cozy, welcoming environment: enlarged vintage photographs framed by architectural molding along the walls leading to an inviting fireplace with a striking granite focal point.


The Abernathy Hotel has been a project that embodies the Clemson spirit and sense of community. “We have a café. We are calling it the Grab-and-Go Café. The plan is to have the wine with appetizers used in Clemson, such as Clemson Blue Cheese and other items that are local, “says Dennis.

As indelible as the former mayor and adjunct instructor that the hotel is named after, every detail of the Abernathy invites visitors and locals alike to enjoy the warmth of the Clemson community.

“That has been one of the focuses too, is this many local people that can get business or work from this project, has been key,” says Dennis. “That is the part that makes the Abernathy so spectacular for us. It is been the first time we've done new construction. The budget has been very generous. We've had full control over, just about 95% of all the selections. New construction gives us a lot more flexibility to make something a little better, a little nicer, a little higher quality.”

Design ingenuity, intimate knowledge of codes and specifications for hotel buildings and interior furnishings, carefully curated list of quality manufactures, and the purchasing power are the hallmarks of Charleston Commercial Interiors. Whether your project is in hospitality, medical, office space, or anything in between, Charleston Commercial Interiors will help your renovation or new construction meet all your commercial interior design needs.