7 Tips for Renovating Your Office Space
Every entrepreneur's style, budget, patience and preferences are different. Perhaps you prefer, and can afford, a pre-designed, brand new, move-in ready office space. Or perhaps you prefer a project, can only afford a fixer-upper, or prefer a space that’s a little outside the box.
If that is the case and you are planning to renovate an old fixer-upper or a bland box into your dream office, here are seven tips to keep in mind as you get started:
1. Pick Your Style
Before you pick up that first sledgehammer, hire that first handyman or open that first can of paint, it’s imperative you have your style goals firmly in mind.
Will you stay true to the building’s history? Do your tastes run modern? Rustic? Eclectic? Industrial? Shabby chic? What style will best represent your business? If you try to start the renovation without a clear vision of your style, you’ll find it harder to make decisions about fixtures, layout, furniture and more. What’s worse, you’re more likely to find yourself redoing portions of the renovation as you realize your true preferences in hindsight.
If you are renovating a historic building, keep in mind that there may be both drawbacks and perks. Some cities may make the design choice for you and require that the building – at least the exterior – stay true to its original time period. On the other hand, there may be grants and funds available if you are seeking to preserve the building’s history and original design.
2. Prepare for the Worst
For any renovation, it’s always a good rule of thumb to budget for at least 10% more than you expect to spend, as emergencies and unforeseen needs always crop up.
A good inspection can alert you to most potential problems, but there are stumbling blocks you may not discover until you’ve started demolition. This is especially in older buildings with years’ worth of layered renovations.
Take the time to research the period your building was built. Knowing when it was first constructed or when previous renovations were completed will give you a heads up about problematic building materials like asbestos or lead paint, or other period building practices that may create issues for your renovation.
3. Be Patient
Your building may have the perfect layout or location, but turning it into a safe, workable office may take longer than you would prefer.
If you need to get, or stay, up-and-running during the process, consider a temporary office, like a container building. Forget that crummy, run-down box that served as the detention room at your old high school; today’s container buildings are fresh, sleek and customizable.
4. Work With What You Have
Before you spend thousands of dollars in demolition work, take a good look at your building’s unique features and figure out which design quirks you can make work for you.
Clean up exposed brick and turn it into a focal point, rather than spending extra to remove or disguise it. Ditch drop ceilings and embrace the height you have. Repair rather than replace intricate trim work. Turn exposed ductwork and other design quirks into bold statements instead of bending over backwards to remove, disguise or work around them.
What may initially seem like an eyesore or hassle could just end up being the most memorable eye candy your office has to offer.
5. Sell What You Can
When you do remove old materials, be sure to think ahead. Although it may be quicker to smash through with a sledgehammer, you may be sacrificing cash for speed.
Old appliances, fixtures, tile and stone - take a little care removing these items and you can probably find a buyer willing to fork over a little cash for your castoffs. Look into local salvage and scrap businesses and find out what they’ll pay for copper pipe and other metal waste.
By selling off what you don’t need or want, you can earn extra cash to put back into your project.
6. Be Choosy
Be sure to give your eyes and your budget a rest. Not every inch of your space needs to be attention grabbing or luxury priced.
Keep in mind the power of paint and the thrill of thrifting. Paint is one of the most affordable updates available and can be used to transform anything from walls to furniture to fixtures. Thrifting can be time consuming; you may have to wade through a lot of junk, but it can often lead to buried treasure.
Want an amazing mural or one-of-a-kind art piece, but can’t afford a big-name pro? Check out local high school or college art displays. Chances are there are young locals teeming with talent that will be willing to work for less in exchange for professional experience and exposure.
7. Learn From Others
With a wealth of knowledge, inspiration and shared experiences available online, there’s absolutely no need to go it alone. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or suffer through every beginner mistake.
Take advantage of sites like Pinterest and Houzz for design inspiration, innovative tech or creative use of space. Professional sites are filled with reliable how-to’s and advice, while personal blogs are available to help you learn from others’ unfortunate renovation disasters.
Your office space should be as unique and personal as your business. Renovating or upgrading a building can open up a world of possibilities unavailable in newer, cookie-cutter spaces. Keep these tips in mind to keep your renovation on track.
James works for a Caterpillar company and blogs in his free time at Homey Improvements. He also enjoys hiking, photography, and buying new gadgets. Follow him on Twitter @DIYfolks.