Leadership

Create an awesome workplace without breaking the bank

Furnishing an office or start-up space can be expensive, tiring and even boring. But entrepreneurs can get creative and savvy when it comes to building a workspace.

To make your office look and feel bigger and brighter than it is, follow these five tips.

Use home-style furniture

Flo & Frank office
Source: Claire Esparros for Homepolish
Flo & Frank office

Who says sofas and comfy chairs have to stay in the living room? Homestyle furniture gives an office a personality — and can be cheaper than office furniture.

"The cool thing about start-up spaces is that things don't have to be uniform. Things can be unique," Havenly co-founder Emily Motayed said. "We're seeing the advent of more affordable furniture options, and that's really advantageous when you're decorating your start-up."

Creating nooks in the office with comfy chairs or a couch and a coffee table is an easy and affordable way to add some flavor. If you're strapped for cash, you can even buy a coffee table and a few decorative vases from a thrift store.

"People want the office to feel like a secondary home because they spend so much time in it. So why not use home furniture? I really like bar carts, especially in a smaller spaces," Homepolish co-founder and CEO Noa Santos said.

Skip the fluorescent lights

Homepolish office design
Source: Claire Esparros for Homepolish
Homepolish office design

"Lighting is the quickest way to change the mood of a space," Santos said. "A lot of people think 'I have to use office lighting for an office.' But it's very harsh."

Track lighting and chandeliers are home-decor staples. Turns out they can be great for an office, too, he said.

Don't forget to consider the color tone of the lightbulbs you use. You can get energy-efficient lighting and still get a warm, yellow tone, which some people prefer.

Get creative with conference rooms

Homepolish office design
Source: Claire Esparros for Homepolish
Homepolish office design

Think outside of the box, or inside the box, when it comes to conference-room space.

"A great money saver for us has been to use pop-up greenhouses instead of conference rooms," Santos said. "We didn't want to take the time and money to file for architectural permits or get an engineer to rework the ventilation system."

A prefab greenhouse costs around $2,000, while building a drywall conference room can cost more than $10,000. If you ever move office locations, the greenhouse can come with you.

The one catch to the office oasis? You'll probably want to leave the door slightly open if it gets too stuffy.

Create nooks

Mic.com’s office space
Source: Christina Shields for Homepolish
Mic.com’s office space

The modern architectural shift from cubicles to giant open spaces is not always the best for productivity, some designers say.

"People are realizing, you really do a need a mix-use space with open areas and more private areas," he said.

Closed-off or private areas are useful for when an employee needs to make an important or sensitive phone call or hold a smaller, more-private meeting.

Consider designating one office with a door for company-wide use, looking for spaces that have a small conference room, or buying a prefab greenhouse that can function as one. If you have the funds, add a phone booth or small drywall conference room.

Plant some joy

Homepolish office design
Source: Claire Esparros for Homepolish
Homepolish office design

Adding plant life into a workspace is a cheap way to make it feel more vibrant.

"There's something about having fresh flowers around your space that just really livens it up and brings life to your office," Motayed said.

Beyond adding a nice touch, plants have a fun, unintended benefit for employees.

"Someone has to take care of the plants, water it every once in awhile. It gives you a little respite to your day," Santos said.