It's the start of a new year and a time when most people want to plan and make positive changes to themselves or their lifestyle. And I know for a lot of small businesses it's a similar time to think about where you want things to go this year, and elements you want or need to improve in your business. And I also know that for many brick and mortar businesses your interior is usually something you plan on updating and revamping after a few years... But actually getting round to starting and carrying out an interior refurbishment is much easier said than done.
One of the main reasons for small businesses putting off any sort of update on their commercial interior is the worry that it will take up a lot of time and money (and that may most likely be the case after a year like we've just had with 2020). But the great thing is that you don't have to spends loads and loads on a commercial refurbishment. Your interior should always aim to best serve your business however it can, and this is definitely achievable on a budget if you can focus on giving your interior an aesthetic update rather than a structural update i.e. moving walls or trying to fully re-wire the electrics etc.
A couple of tips before we crack onto how you can refurbish your commercial space on a budget:
Create a quick list of areas or elements in your commercial space that need to be updated or changed, and then order this list through ranking of most important or urgent works as well as a rank of how expensive or long/easy it will be to carry out each update. If you're going to spend time and money refurbishing you might as well spend it strategically on interior updates that will essentially give you the best return on investment. In other words focus on refurbishing elements or areas that will improve your interior for your business to (better) succeed, like improving it to run more efficiently or increase your revenue/sales.
You don't have to carry out all the refurb work at once. You can plan your interior updates as multiple phases through the year if this works better for your business. This is where the list you've made will come in handy again as you can quickly determine what's best to update first, or if it needs to be done by a certain season in the year/in time for a particular calendar event.
Okay so with those nuggets of advice in mind, let's dive into today's post on how you can update your commercial space on a budget.
01. Get painting
Giving your commercial interior a bit of a re-paint is probably one of the most cost-effective and simple things you can do. You may have painted your site when you first started out a couple of years ago and now you know more about what colours or tones work in your space, or maybe you need to update the overall look and feel to better align with your business and where it's at now.
You can paint or repaint virtually any surface: walls, ceilings, staircases. You can paint old furniture to make a space feel new. You could paint existing joinery like a counter front or storage unit in a colour that matches your branding colour palette. Maybe you want to add a bit of subtle texture and depth to plain walls - a limewash paint would be perfect to do this. There's so many colours available right now to choose from with limewash paints and they're also a great paint option if you're an environmentally conscious small business.
02. Update old, worn out furniture
This doesn't have to mean replacing old furniture with brand new. Updating your existing furniture can include things like sanding and refinishing wooden tables or reupholstering fixed seating and chairs in new fabrics. Your existing furniture may still have plenty of life left in it but could do with a bit of a face lift if it's looking dated or worn out. Refurbishing is also a great way to minimise waste, as well as costs, as you're not throwing out a whole site's worth of decent furniture and fully replacing it.
You don't have to refurbish all of your existing furniture if it's not necessary, maybe a certain area in your commercial space gets used more and is in need of being refinished/reupholstered. Plenty of contract furniture suppliers can refinish and reupholster your existing furniture, you'll just need to get a quote first. The process usually involves them picking up and returning your furniture to site, so you don't have to worry about taking it anywhere yourself.
03. Artwork and decorative items
If your business has been around for several years now, and purchasing artwork or decorative items wasn't an option in your original budget, now is the time! This interior update might not be for you if your business aesthetic has minimalism at its core, or you already have lots going on in your space such as a retail shop. But if you've got expanses of bare walls and feel like your space is a bit lacklustre it's amazing how much impact some artwork or a few shelves/a corner styled with decorative items can really make.
There are so many affordable online print shops that you can buy from nowadays and some sites even give you suggestions of what prints work well together, if you wanted something like a gallery wall. Or better yet you could use your walls to host local artists' work as a way of supporting the local community, and this way you can do mini updates to your commercial space several times a year without needing a massive budget. Charity and vintage shops are great places to find unique decorative items on a budget - think vases, baskets, glassware and all sorts of bric-a-brac perfect to fill shelves with in your space.
04. Invest in planting
I'm sure you've noticed on Instagram and Pinterest that planting in commercial interior design has really blown up over the last few years. Plants are great for workplace/office environments as well as other spaces that don't have many soft finishes. They add plenty of colour and texture to a material palette, and you can never go wrong with adding natural elements to a space.
As for choosing real or faux plants? If choosing to update your commercial space with real plants, make sure you do a bit of research and buy the right ones for your space i.e. based on natural light conditions, and make sure to keep up with looking after them! If you go for faux plants (great for high level areas or if you're super forgetful with watering) just take care choosing ones that actually look realistic. Faux plants can sometimes be pretty expensive, but don't forget you essentially have them forever, so it's worth spending a little bit more on faux plants that look real than trying to save money on others that look obviously fake.
05. Change up your lighting
There's lots of different ways you can update your existing lighting without spending lots of cash. The key thing is working with your existing lighting points i.e. no new electrical wiring, and optimising it for your business.
A straight forward option is to change the existing light fittings to a new style that will better suit the overall interior aesthetic and/or improve the lighting quality in your space. Another great option is adding in different lighting sources such as floor lamps or table lamps to create more atmosphere. Even just changing the light bulbs can make a massive difference to the light quality! Light colour as well as wattage (brightness) can have powerful effect on how people experience and feel in your space, and you always want this to work in your business' favour.
So, these are a few starting points and ideas for updating your commercial space without the need of a large cash investment or major interior overhaul. I'd love to know if any have been helpful ideas for you and your business, let me know in the comments below!
If you need any interior design advice for your commercial space I'm now offering one-to-one online consultations, you can find more info about this service here or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Cover image by Moyo Studio)