How to Deck Out Your Startup Office Space On a Shoestring

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So you’re involved in a startup - things are pretty exciting. Maybe you’ve just hired your first members of staff and moved into an office space. And much like moving into a new home, it’s totally empty. A blank canvas ready for you to make your mark.

Our working environment has a knock-on effect on our mood and productivity. Drab or stark surroundings will do nothing for morale, so it’s time to start kitting the place out. The trouble is, you’re not exactly Mr or Mrs Moneybags right now. Luckily, there are ways to do this on the cheap, if you’re willing to inject some effort and creativity.


Watching Paint Dry

Let’s start with the walls. A quick lick of paint is a magical instant spruce-up. Of course, make sure your landlord is happy for you to paint the walls. They should be - you’re saving them a job! No need to stick to plain old white - here is where that creativity I mentioned comes in.

A good option is to choose colors that tie in with your company color scheme, to help create a sense of identity. If that seems a little overbearing, you could try one feature wall in a bright colour and keep the rest neutral. Stencilling the company logo out somewhere is a nice professional touch. Another trend that has become very popular (for good reason) is using chalkboard paint to cover feature walls or smaller areas, meaning they can be written on and used much like a whiteboard. This is a great way to save money on whiteboards, at least in the beginning.


Furniture Foraging

Your walls are looking spick and span, so now it’s time to think about furniture. This is a potential heavy cost, so one thing is for sure: if you’re on a tight budget you can’t afford to buy everything new. But at the same time, there is no point wasting your money on cheap, badly made items that will break shortly down the line. In situations like this, the local flea market or thrift store is a start-up’s best friend. It’s also worth checking the local newspaper ads for any office clearouts.

Use your thrift store hunts as an opportunity to seek out larger items such as desks, storage units and shelving, as well as smaller accessories and furnishings like rugs, mugs and pencil pots.


Mirror Mirror

Every ‘how to decorate’ article will tell you to add a mirror. Including this one.

Mirrors have the magical ability to make a room feel twice as big. Strategically placed, they will reflect more light into the workplace and add to the sense of space. The bigger you can find, the better. You may be able to source one cheaply online, or if you want something with a bit of character, add it to your list when you visit the thrift store.


Bits and Bobs

Your best bet for cheap and cheerful office supplies is to scour the shelves of stores like HomeGoods, Target and The Dollar Spot. You are probably not going to find items like pens, folders and storage boxes much cheaper. Maybe at the flea market, but if it were me, I think I’d buy my staplers new. Maybe I’m fussy.

It’s always useful to have some relevant, ‘businessy’ books around the office, and they need not be brand new. If anything, a slightly thumbed through copy will give the impression to any visitors that you’ve all been reading up. Pick up a cheap second hand bookcase and upcycle it as you please, perhaps a with mist of spray or a dab of leftover chalkboard paint?


Prioritize Plant Life

Plants will bring your office to life, quite literally. A little greenery will make a big difference to the atmosphere and also help to keep the place from looking too stark. Some plants have air purifying qualities, so it’s worth looking into these. Spider plants, peace lilies, boston ferns and bamboo palms are all examples. Low maintenance plants like succulents are a good idea, as they don’t require meticulous care.

Remember to consider smell as well as appearance. A some scented geraniums, arabian jasmine or gardenia will make the whole place smell lovely.

The best places to find plants on the cheap? Try yard sales, Craigslist, local garden groups and end of season clearances.


Awesome Artwork

Offices can sometimes feel a little oppressive and impersonal. If you’re looking to create a working environment that feels fresh, innovative and welcoming, then a good way to instantly jazz the place up is with artwork. But please, before you start thinking of ordering any terrible stock motivational posters full of eagle and mountain metaphors - don’t.

It needn’t be expensive to source artwork that will add a splash of color and creativity to your walls. Why not involve your staff and help the place feel more personal to them by allowing each person to choose one piece of artwork? Posters can be bought relatively cheaply online. Add a simple frame and you’re good to go.

Alternatively, you could opt for a feature photo wall. Hang wires or use tacks, and allow staff to gradually pin up fun photos, postcards and notes that will reflect your crazy company culture.


Before you go buying anything, first think: does this new to be bought brand new? Could there be a way to achieve the same result more cost-effectively? You do not need to go overboard - often with just a few small and simple touches, an office can go from boring to beautiful in no time. Just think thrifty.

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