office design

A Cultivated Office Space

When the owners of Cultivate: A Counseling Collective approached us about designing a new office space in University Heights, we couldn’t wait to get started. At their first meeting with designer Daniel Merk-Benitez, the owners shared that they wanted the space to embody their vision of becoming “a warm and inspiring path to wholeness.” Based on that goal, we knew that the space needed to feel more like a home than an office. Daniel’s hope was to create an environment where every time a client entered the lobby, they could immediately relax, breathe easy, and feel comfortable.


We’ve all experienced an office space that’s cold and uninviting, so we made sure to run far in the opposite direction. By choosing furniture pieces that created a homey feel, artwork that was whimsical, and placing plants everywhere, we designed a space that truly welcomes people in. Beyond that, the Cultivate team wanted to infuse youthful style throughout the offices, so we added touches of brass, blush, and funky pillows. To keep things fresh and airy, Daniel used his favorite shade of white, Dunn-Edwards’ Whisper, and left the open beams and ducting to make the whole space feel more casual.


The Offices





#3 and #4


When he first started designing the space, Daniel fell in love with this photograph of a quizzical giraffe. He knew he had to use it and it ended up setting the tone for the entire space. Every client sees it at the end of the long hallway, and it screams—”This is NOT your typical office space.” In fact, a few weeks after the space opened, a young child came with their father for a first appointment. Upon entering, the child exclaimed, “Dad, this isn’t a doctor’s office! It’s a home.” Based on those words, we feel we can say mission accomplished!

We’re also happy to report that a year after Cultivate opened this space, they began construction on a second location in La Mesa Village. We were honored they asked us to collaborate again, and we can’t wait to share it here soon. Keep an eye out and thanks for reading!

Design by: Daniel Merk-Benitez

A Tribute to Bill

In a little house on a busy corner in Pacific Beach, Cummings Family Enterprises (CFE) runs its carwash and gas station business. But before it became business headquarters, the office design was the vision of Bill Cummings, former head of CFE, and his wife, Katie, a talented designer here at Kathy Ann Abell Interiors. It began as an outdated cottage before the small-house-turned-office was transformed into a functional space with hints of industrial design, bits of the outdoors, and nods to the carwashes and gas stations it oversees. From the vintage canary yellow gas pump in the corner of the conference room to the green speckled bass hanging on the reclaimed wood wall, the design is something special, and, more than that, it stands tribute to its visionary, the late Bill Cummings.

On January 11th, 2017, Bill unexpectedly passed away from a prolapsed heart valve while on a hunting trip. He was a man who loved the outdoors, his work, and, above all, a man who truly loved his family. Once you learn a little bit about Bill, it isn’t hard to see him in the makeup of the office Katie finished to honor him. The raw edge wooden desk coupled with hunting and fishing treasures show his clear love of nature while the antique Shell gas pump and art featuring the inside of a water-speckled carwash stand as a reminder of the business he worked so hard to run. Of course, the reclaimed wood wall stands out the most for on it hangs pictures of Bill with his most prized possession—his family.


The office stands as a little snapshot of Bill with small pieces of who he was placed around by the only person who could have done it right, Katie. Without the option of delaying the install of the office design, she carried out the vision she and Bill had created together just three weeks after he passed. In her own words, the install was, “Bittersweet. Bill was excited about it and to have it finished how we both wanted it was a blessing and a gift.” For Katie, finishing the space—from unwrapping the antique gas pump they had both fallen in love with to installing the glass garage door they had used to create a cool conference room—was a way to honor her husband and see his vision through. Of course, even with the office finished and ready for operation, Katie wondered if keeping Bill’s business was even possible.


In the end, it was her and Bill’s four sons who encouraged Katie and were adamant about keeping their father’s legacy alive through CFE. Now, over a year after Bill’s passing, it’s his oldest son, Brock, who’s stepped into his father’s shoes to keep CFE thriving. Along with his grandfather, Brock has kept his dad’s business successful and stepped up in a way that Katie says, “would have made Bill very proud.” Though the office still reflects Bill and pays homage to him and his vision, perhaps the best tribute to his memory is the picture of CFE this past summer, when all four of his sons came to work their father’s business together. While Bill will always be a part of the business in some way, his true legacy is found in Katie, his wife of 28 years, and their four sons, Brock, Noah, Billy, and Jake. It’s in their love for him and for each other that Bill will always be remembered.

In memory of William Todd Cummings