It’s a common fitout conundrum: ‘we want a new look, but with minimal waste.’
Luckily, we have some ideas on how to achieve both. Here’s how to create a fresh and energetic new space while making your fitout as sustainable as possible.
Step 1: Repurpose
It’s the “re”-generation (pun intended): REcycle, REwork, REfresh, REpurpose.
Not only is it sustainable but “repurposing or reworking materials from a range of places in unusual and creative ways adds extra character to your design and gives your space and your pieces a story” says Rebekah O’Callaghan, Designer of Total Fitouts Adelaide Central.
Think about what you want to keep and what could be reworked – recycling office furniture is one of the easiest ways to save.
Some common items that can be reworked:
- Desktops – if you have high quality desktops but are updating your look and feel, consider if you can keep the top and change the legs
- Table bases – vice versa, can the legs be reused with an updated tabletop?
- Kitchen bench cabinets
- Filing cabinets – old filing cabinets can be used in a variety of ways: trendy plant pots, flipped on their side without the draws to be used as storage (for umbrellas, supplies, posters, etc) or two matching filing cabinets of the same height can be table legs
- Tiles left over from other fitous – there’s often a surplus ordered that can be reused
In particular, keep an eye out for any high quality materials. Wood and timber can be repurposed, as can slabs of terrazzo or marble. It can be expensive to buy high quality so don’t let anything that can be reworked go to waste.
Chairs are expensive, particularly when you’re buying a large number. If you like the style and look of your chairs, consider reupholstering them instead of buying brand new.
Same goes for any upholstered furniture that has great bones and structure but outdated prints. It will create a unique look and feel.
A fresh coat of paint goes a long way.
Ask yourself: Do you really need new desks, cupboards, bookshelves or filing cabinets – OR could you paint your existing ones?
Take note of the structure and bones of a piece, not just the aesthetics. The aesthetics are easy to change – and paint is a lot cheaper than buying all new furniture. (Plus it’s a fun team activity and means that you’re going to have one-of-a-kind pieces in your office!)
Step 2: Buy smarter
Once you’ve repurposed, reworked and recycled as much as possible, it’s likely you’ll still need to buy some items. If that’s the case, follow these sustainable principles when purchasing.
Opt for eco-friendly materials
Surrounding yourself with natural and eco-friendly materials has multiple benefits.
Not only are you doing your part for the environment and reducing your carbon footprint, it’s also proven using natural materials is better for your health and wellbeing. Eco-friendly materials emit less toxins and being surrounded by them creates a feeling of calm and tranquility.
When making your fit out decisions, opt for eco-friendly materials:
- Timber and reclaimed wood
- Natural stone
- Rammed earth
- Materials made out of recycled plastic
“Being more eco-conscious as you make building and design choices goes a long way,” adds Rebekah.
Only buy what you need
It’s easy to get carried away – we’ve all been there – but think about what you really need in your space to help your team to be successful. After all, that’s the purpose of an office is to create a space that inspires, empowers and helps your team be successful.
Don’t go overboard. Instead focus on spending your hard-earned money on the pieces and items that are going to make a difference to your team’s wellbeing and performance.
“It’s really important to prioritise” adds Rebekah, “you won’t be able to do everything you want unless you have an endless budget so prioritise what really matters to you.”
Keeping it minimal is better for sustainability purposes – and your bottom line.
There’s going to be some things that you’re going to need to buy brand new. If that’s the case, be conscious of where you’re shopping, what you’re buying, the life expectancy of the item and the materials used.
Given the year small businesses have had, we’d encourage you to look out for sustainable small businesses. Small businesses often have fun and unique pieces, created with sustainability in mind. While the upfront cost might be slightly higher, it’ll save you in the long run.