Peek Inside Make It Better’s New Office and Tech Mamma Lounge

An interior designer and a painter teamed up to transform Make It Better’s new office in Winnetka.

“This office makes a statement,” explains Cindy Galvin, of Bardes Interiors and Maze Home in Winnetka, of Make It Better’s brand new office in Winnetka, which she and her assistant, Chris Williams, designed in just six short weeks.

The light and airy second-floor space is a far cry from the windowless first-floor space that the magazine’s staff shared for the first few years of its existence. Make It Better publisher and co-founder Susan Noyes says that she envisioned the space as a creative, inspiring and fun environment for her staff, the readers and participants in classes at the “Tech Mamma Lounge,” a community space where starting in October Make It Better writers and experts will teach courses that are open to readers.

Upcoming sessions include Writing a Press Release, Brand Management, Creating a Website and Blogging 101. “This is intended to be an entrepreneurial space,” Noyes says. “If you have an idea or business that you’re trying to grow, you can do that in partnership with us here, and I’m excited about that.”

The first thing visitors will see is a wall in the entry stairwell that has been painted with blackboard paint covered with chalk-written messages. “It’s a giant graffiti wall that feels very welcoming,” Galvin says. “Susan told me that she wanted the staff to be in an environment that’s happy and cheerful.”


According to Jeff Hester, of Hester Painting & Decorating in Skokie, the paint comes in several different colors and is just one of the many interesting finishes available these days.

For example, in the Tech Mamma Lounge, he covered one wall with a dry erase finish that transforms it into a giant erasable idea board. “We painted every surface in the office,” says Hester, who did the work pro-bono. “Our company makes an effort to give back to the community, so working with Make It Better was the perfect marriage.”

In the Tech Mamma Lounge, Galvin paired a set of Louis XVI cane-back chairs with a vintage kitchen table. “I mixed traditional and contemporary to create a really fun setting for the staff, who works very long hours,” Galvin says.

For the bullpen, which is shared by editorial and production staff, Galvin selected 10 matching wood and aluminum desks from IKEA. “It’s one big room, but I wanted each of them to have their own space,” Galvin says.

Galvin selected wood and aluminum desks from IKEA for the staff. “The IKEA furniture is my neutral,” Galvin explains. “It helps to keep the balance and the harmony in the room.”

A pair of upholstered screens separates the staff area from Noyes’ desk, a glass and chrome Italian design with a double pedestal.

Above Noyes’ desk are a mirror framed in patent leather and a matching bulletin board. A pair of upholstered screens muffles the sounds from the bullpen while maintaining the open feeling. “All the upholstered screens are a green and white fabric that disappears into the architecture,” Galvin says, noting that she incorporated many geometric patterns for interest.

Nearby, Galvin created a lounge area with furniture that she donated along with her time. “I anchored the seating area with a white sofa, so I could pop the colors on the two chairs, the lamps, the pull-up cubes, accessories and artwork,” Galvin says, noting that the area can double as an office extension for group meetings. For artwork, Galvin hung framed Make It Better mementos, including the cover of the first issue and a banner poster from a fundraiser.


The colorful design has been a hit with the staff. According to the magazine’s managing editor, Kelly Konrad, the new space provides for a much more collaborative environment. Likewise, art director, Sarah Philippart, can’t say enough about the new space. “It’s light and bright, so it puts you in a good mood,” Philippart explains, noting that the windows can be opened to bring in fresh air.

Noyes is thrilled at the response and appreciation of Cindy Galvin, Jeff Hester and Wilmette-based Kashian Brothers Flooring, who provided the office carpeting at wholesale cost. “Walking into this office lifts you up and makes you feel better,” Noyes says.


The design team: Cindy Galvin, Christine Williams and Jeff Hester.