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Red Fan Communications

Giving New Meaning to “Work from Home”

Deep within the heart of Central Austin sits the historic Whitley-Keltner House. Constructed in 1894, this two-story Victorian house once served as the main office and home to Sharp R. Whitley, founder, and editor of The People’s Advocate, one of Austin’s most impactful counter-culture weekly newspapers.

These days, the Whitley-Keltner House is the headquarters of Red Fan Communications, whose mission of crafting market-moving stories for B2B brands carries on the spirit of Whitley’s disruptive mission of empowering people through mass media.

Though the “home” office provided a sense of welcome and comfort that a traditional office couldn’t, the historic space wasn’t without drawbacks. Noise levels were among the team’s chief concerns, as the space’s thin walls made it difficult to concentrate. A similar loss of focus occurred due to the building's circulation, as team members would frequently walk directly through one another’s workspaces to get from one part of the office to the next.

Most of the team's desks were in the upstairs bedrooms. While this made for a unique work environment, it required the team to work extremely close to one another – often without enough seating for Red Fan’s entire team. Unfortunately, disruptions weren’t limited to desks. Because of the home’s set-up, guests or fellow team members had to walk through these workspaces whenever answering the door or taking a break on the patio.

At the onset of the project, we took the Red Fan team through a Visioning session to determine which business imperatives they wanted to bring forth. Through these sessions, it was decided that Red Fan’s new space would focus on synergy, agility, and talent. The design solution would implement a mix of collaborative and focused spaces, with a careful balance to ensure ample and comfortable seating with minimal distractions. The bulk of the upstairs would serve as individual workspaces, while the downstairs would host the primary social or meeting spaces.

To mitigate as much sound and distraction as possible, we divided the office into zones, ensuring that heads-down areas for focused work were strategically separate from bustling collaboration spaces. Each desk was outfitted with removable privacy panels made of thick fabric to absorb sound, providing the team with an ideal and quiet work environment.

To solve Red Fan’s overcrowding challenges, our design included the rollout of a desk reservation system. Now, team members can see availability ahead of time and book desks or meeting areas in advance.

These workspaces were designed with deep focus and comfort in mind. Ergonomic chairs were implemented to establish a comfortable and customizable work environment, and mobile desks allowed the team to move their workstations at will – giving them additional space when needed and allowing for easy collaboration.

Collaborative areas were designed with intentionality to emphasize a welcoming environment, as Red Fan regularly hosted clients. These spaces are outfitted with the technology needed for presentations or important business development meetings without eschewing the ‘at-home’ atmosphere enjoyed throughout the rest of the environment. This combination ensured these areas offered a perfect balance of liveliness, hospitality, and adaptability.

To celebrate the home’s historic past, a few unique sections have remained untouched. An elegant claw-foot tub, for example, still sits in the home’s original residential bathroom on the second floor as a tribute to Whitley and The People’s Advocate’s staff.

With respectful renovations and additions that pay homage to the home’s past while celebrating Red Fan’s future, the Whitley-Keltner House remains a staple of Austin’s history. By helping the Red Fan Communications team create an environment that champions productivity as much as comfort, they’re positioned to continue amplifying voices and telling unique brand-centric stories.


Square Footage: 5,000 sq ft.

Location: Austin, TX


Amy Collins


Agile Interiors

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