Room to grow: Common House opens annex as business expands

Like Common House, the annex is an older structure, built in the early 20th century, and it’s got the same artsy, rustic, DIY, antique-furnished vibe. Photo: Amy and Jackson Smith Like Common House, the annex is an older structure, built in the early 20th century, and it’s got the same artsy, rustic, DIY, antique-furnished vibe. Photo: Amy and Jackson Smith

Before it opened in 2017, Common House—the co-working, networking, meeting, dining, and events club on Market Street—sent membership invitations to 100 people, giving the impression that it would be an exclusive place. But not long after it launched, 500 people had joined. Today, with more than 1,000 members and plans to open locations in Richmond and Chattanooga, Tennessee, Common House has clearly become a thing, attracting coverage by national publications including Vogue and the Robb Report.

Common House co-founder Derek Sieg says Little House, the new space on West Market Street that will serve as CH’s administrative offices, is “an older place with some soul and character.” Photo: Amy and Jackson Smith

Just as its popularity and membership have grown, so too has its management team. Co-founders Derek Sieg and Ben Pfinsgraff now count 12 people in various leadership roles, working to keep the Charlottesville location running smoothly and prep for the out-of-town chapters to come online.

Twelve people where there used to be three or four? The office at 206 W. Market St. was getting mighty crowded.

The solution comes in the form of a new space, called Little House, across the street from the mothership. Like Common House, the annex is an older structure, built circa 1910, and it’s got the same artsy, rustic, DIY, antique-furnished vibe.

“We wanted a space that fit with Common House,” Sieg says. “We were looking for an older place with some soul and character.”

What he and his partners found, bought, and refurbished is a stucco house with a porch and plenty of room inside for a conference room, shared office space, kitchen, and lounge-y living room.

As a bonus, Sieg discovered, Little House was once owned and occupied by the family of a current server—one of 50 employees—at Common House. “His grandfather was born and died in that house, and his mother lived there for years,” Sieg says. “It’s nice to have that personal connection.”

Little House has the lived-in feel of Common House, which is intentional and comfortable. The primary feature in the main room is a long conference table that Sieg himself built out of reclaimed barn lumber, with help from a Piedmont Virginia Community College carpentry instructor. “He has a shop out in the county and rents it out for $20 an hour and helps people with their projects,” Sieg says.

The table cuts a wide swath through conference room, which connects to the shared office and living room on the west side, and the kitchen and mudroom to the south.

Sieg says that while the building will mainly be used as Common House’s administrative offices, it has already been rented out by a local business for an off-site meeting and might eventually become an event space.

“We’re just glad that we found such a cool old building that meets our needs as we grow,” Sieg says.

Next stop, Richmond.

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