How to: Dress an office on a budget

Has your business outgrown your kitchen table and needs to stretch its legs?

That’s great news, but what can you do if you still run lean and must fit out your new office on the cheap?

According to the experts you can get serious bang-for-business-buck on a tiny budget.

All it takes is a little know-how.

Marc Levin, co-founder at online office furniture outfit Jason.L has loads of specialist knowledge of easy office designs and fit-outs.

His hot tips include:

Use standalone, modular cabinetry and save big bucks

“They will always be cheaper than in-built cabinetry,” Levin says. “Try to keep most of the cabinetry white as this is the most popular colour and thus the cheapest.

Partition screens with Velcro joiners

“They provide a great separation of space and if used well can look great too. They are also very handy for those leasing an office as there is no need for building changes and also incredibly easy to change spaces and layouts.”

Yes, you can have low-cost connectivity

Just avoid re-wiring in the skirting boards. “Rewiring is labour intensive and so it is expensive, but wiring over the ceiling tiles is much easier and less expensive,” Levin suggests. “Also the use of strong wireless internet is much cheaper than running CAT5 or 6 cable to each desk.”

BWM office interior in Melbourne


Don’t think everything has to be shiny and brand new – one of the best ways to save coin on an office space is via quality pre-loved decor.

Tamara DiMattina of Buy Nothing New Month agrees for most small and micro businesses, budget is everything.

“But this doesn’t need to come at the expense of a great, functional, enjoyable office environment,” she says.

Here’s her hot tips:

Think green

“For big savings go second-hand and chose energy efficiency. Most things can be, and will usually be better quality and certainly cheaper than buying new. “LEDs instead of halogen down lights are also a must, that’s a saving of up to 89% on your lighting bill,” DiMattina says.

Scour the second-hand market

“While some things are harder to find second hand, nearly everything from a fabulous feature second hand rug, to mature plants – which will both add colour, personality and vibrancy to an office – can be sourced second hand online.

Rent don’t buy

Refurbished computers, printers, scanners, phones are all available second hand; “But renting can also be a good options for those not wanting to fork out up-front.”

BWM office - Melbourne


When the Co-founder and Director of one of Australia’s biggest comparison websites, Fred Schebesta fitted out his first real office in 2011 his budget was $10,000.

Today the boss of runs a multi-million dollar company but says he has not forgotten the importance of stretching dollars when starting in business.

His top tips are:

Buy in bulk so you get a discount

“Buy the same desks, chairs, computers and other office furniture for all staff at once and from as few suppliers as possible. Doing so enables greater bargaining power when negotiating cost.

Don’t skimp on chairs

“Office workers spend a huge chunk of their days sitting in front of their computers, and we all know that happy staff members equal productive staff. Put your cash to good use and make the work environment as physically comfortable as possible for them.”

BWM office - Melbourne

Ditch the desk phones

“They’re unnecessary and everyone has a mobile phone so pay staff a monthly phone allowance instead. It’s more cost effective than setting up a complex phone system. Besides, many mobile phone deals now come with very cheap, or even free, calls and text so it makes perfect sense to operate without desk phones.”

Try tech before you buy tech

“Technology is expensive. Before rushing out to buy the latest software ask yourself if it’s merely a business ‘want’ or a ‘need’. If you’re still keen to proceed, do a trial within a contained unit in the company. We use an instant messaging program that allows staff to communicate 24/7 and the best bit? It’s free!”

Finally Genie Pepper, Co-Founder of Plum is busy renovating her Sydney office space on a shoestring budget.

With time and money tight for the children’s wear designer, here are her top dollar-saving tips:

Get lots of quotes and you can save $1000s

“We got four quotes for polishing the concrete floors,” Pepper says. “Three were very similar but the final quote was half the cost.”

Don’t be scared to negotiate

“We have found there is so much competition in furniture for offices,” Use this to your advantage and bargain hard.

Decorate business walls with local art

“We are also borrowing artworks and letting the artist show clients their work in our space so we don’t have to buy artworks.”