Best Live/Work Space: Fathom Creative

by Mark Wellborn

This week UrbanTurf is taking a look back at the best that DC’s residential real estate market had to offer in 2009. From the best deals to the best trends to, of course, the best listings, we believe we have sussed out the cream of the crop.

Drew Mitchell and Bill Fischer have given new meaning to the idea of a home office. As co-principals of the graphic design/interactive firm Fathom Creative, the couple has transformed a former Logan Circle brake shop on 14th Street (map) into a sleek office space that doubles as their primary residence.

“My dream for years was to have a setup like the Olsens over their store in Little House on the Prairie,” Mitchell told UrbanTurf. “Now, we have that…on a slightly larger scale.”

Second Floor of Fathom Creative by Josh Howell

For years, Fathom Creative’s offices were located in a 2,500 square-foot space just to the north of Dupont Circle. As the business grew, Mitchell and Fischer realized they needed more space. So, around 2005 they started searching for new digs. They looked at about twelve spaces before they heard that Lee Jensen was interested in selling the property that formerly served as his brake shop on 14th Street.

“Lee had been approached by developers over the years who were interested in buying the building, but he worried that they would not preserve the character of the building,” Mitchell explained. “He liked the idea of passing the torch to another small business.”

Mitchell and Fischer loved the space, but there was just one hitch: It was much larger than what they were looking for. That’s when they decided to also make it their home.

The transition took some time. They closed on the space in 2006, spent the next year and a half working with Bethesda-based Lawson Architects on the new design and then another year and a half redesigning and renovating the property. They moved in this past summer.

Office Space at Fathom Creative by Josh Howell

The office portion of Fathom takes up the first floor of the three-level property. The 150-foot-deep space that once serviced cars that were on their last legs is now home to iMacs and dry-erase boards. The layout and aesthetics scream creative design company: the walls and desks are all white, subtle ambient music can be heard throughout the office and there are no walls between work stations to hamper the creative process.

Second Floor Kitchen by Josh Howell

The second floor serves as the beginning of the property’s living space, but also as an extension of the office. Employees are free to use the kitchen as their own and they usually eat lunch together at the massive dining room table. The sliding doors separating the kitchen from the living area are the original garage doors from the brake shop.

The top floor of the building serves as the main residential floor, with a large media room bounded on both sides by bedrooms. The floor also includes a library and access to the roof. When deciding which floors would be residential and which would be office, Drew realized that he did want some separation from his professional life when he came home at night. The second floor serves as that buffer.

“The biggest consideration was how to adequately separate home life from work life,” he told UrbanTurf. “It’s easier knowing my staff is not directly under the floorboards when I wake up in the morning.”

Next Up: The Best Up-and-Comers in 2009

Previous Best Of 2009 entries:

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/best_live_work_space_fathom_creative/1606


  1. maria said at 8:44 am on Wednesday December 16, 2009:

    This place is phenomenal! I have walked by it for months and have always wanted to take a peek inside.

  1. LoganC said at 9:20 am on Wednesday December 16, 2009:

    Amazing re-use of the former space. I love that they kept the old garage doors and other knick knacks from the property’s former life.

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