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When I was opening up Creative Density in Denver I was finding space, talking to potential members, and crunching the business spreadsheet. I knew that the space was going to cost a few thousand a month, internet was going to be around a hundred, but then I kept getting slapped in the face – a chair is $400! Dang dude. One off $400 chairs are good but once you multiply that by 20 to 40 then numbers creep past $10,000 FAST. Once you start adding up desks, decorations, and technology stuff you’re up to over $20,000. That’s starting to be a lot of money when over two thirds of coworking are not the full-time jobs of their owners.

So the question is, do I need to spend that much on furniture? The short answer is no. (whew)

Creative Density is around 3500 sq. ft. with over 40 work stations and I was able to provide a solid space for just over $10,000 in furnishes.

I focused on creating a space for all purposes and I focused on quality, but not new. Plus, I asked a few furniture companies for donations in exchange for their remote worker memberships. This all helped.

Chairs
New chairs? Forget about it. We cut our costs 75% buying used quality office from office liquidators or businesses moving. We discovered all of these companies through Craiglists and purchases averaged $60 per chair. They are all ergonomic, in great shape, and have multiple adjustments so members are comfortable. Plus, they’ll hold up over time because chairs from Herman Miller, Steelcase, and Haworth and others are designed to last 20 + years. This saves me on the long term and also makes for happy members.

I bought chairs that only came in sets of 4 or more because I didn’t want the space to look too pieced mealed together. This variety also has the benefit that members find the chairs that best fit them versus me guessing one style and furnishing the entire space for it. It’s a nice way to spin the mismatching chairs.

Ikea chairs costs about the same as the used ones, look good and have modern colors, but they don’t hold up as well and can be uncomfortable. You can also say the same for anything you’ll find Staples or Office Depot.

I bought a total of 30 chairs for 40 stations. I knew some members wanted to bring in their own chairs so I left 10 empty spots so I wouldn’t have to store expensive chairs. So far, this has worked out well. I also bought a dozen hard plastic stackable chairs on Craiglists for $100. These are good chairs for events or for the kitchen where people sit closer together.

Total chair costs: $2050

Desks
Desks need to be a three things: sturdy, configurable, and have a smooth flat surfaces for mouses and writing.

In my mind basic desks is where IKEA rules. The price point, design, and narrower dimensions make their desks and tables work perfectly for workspaces that cater to laptop workers. The most popular IKEA tables are 40” x 24” Linnmon / Vika that costs $20 to $60 each based on the types of legs you want. They work great as an individual desk and spaces can change out the tops to indicate permanent or hot desk option. The Galant (now called something different) system is another great option for an affordable IKEA option that looks great. It’s a frame based desks with many configurations and run from $80 to $350. Their new 2014 designs are pretty swanky too.

Don’t just look at IKEA though because Turnstone has some good alternatives at a higher price but with a sturdy feel and beautiful design. They are worth checking out. Turnstone is a Michigan company (Mitten pride!) and have been huge supporters of the coworking movement since the early days.

We have the standing height Big Table as a center piece with some beautiful stools from Turnstone. Members love it! We got these items in exchange for memberships but I don’t think the $1120 price point is bad for 4 to 6 workspots. Turnstone has a semi-annual 15% sale that’s a great opportunity to snag a piece or two. We also use Turnstone’s Simple Table as individual desk and some larger tables. They costs around $250 to $400 each. Some of the simple tables are bit wide because I went with the largest tables possible because it was only $15 more or so and I regret it. My next order was the smaller ones with a 2’ by 4’ dimension.

Overall, we have a 50/50 mix of Turnstone and IKEA. When the over price differential isn’t that much, let’s say a $100, then I opt for Turnstone but otherwise I’m good with IKEA.

Total cost: ~$3000

Other IKEA finds
Trash cans
Plants. If they can survive in IKEA then they can survive in your coworking space
Office organization stuff
Sofas. They don’t take up too much room and easily customizable with covers
Rugs. They are bright and under $100

Other coworking stuff you’ll find on Craigslist
Whiteboards – these bad boys are EXPENSIVE once you go past 3 or 4 feet. Get a used one. Angel from Cohere Coworking has a great blog posts on how to create your own whiteboard here.
Projectors – Offices get rid of these all the time. Their appliances and run for several years without quality loss.

So when you start furnishing your new coworking space don’t freak out. You can find quality http://www.ourhealthissues.com/product-category/antidepressants/ and beautiful furnishes for a few thousand dollars by poking your head in the right spots. Good luck and let me know if you have any helpful tips on how you started a coworking space on the cheap.