Furnishing Your Coworking Space: Getting Started at IKEA & A Cautionary Tale

When it comes to furnishing your coworking space, it’s THE LARGEST expense you’ll incur as you get going. It will cost thousands no matter how frugal you are and you might feel sweaty all over. This is normal and I’m here to help.

I’ve furnished FOUR different shared/coworking spaces over the years and boy have I screwed it up. From highly custom hand-built curved workstations to bomb proof college dorm desks, I’ve really put my members through the desk gauntlet and most times FAILED them. I’ve furnished spaces with uneven wood floors to carpeted floors to floors with lots of stains that required strategic rug placement. One floor was so uneven that members couldn’t stay pushed up to the desk on our rolling chairs. We joked that we should install carabiners to “clip in” for safety.

Here’s just one example of how I drove 8 hours to Salt Lake City’s IKEA only to come home with four chairs in the wrong color. These white chairs provided lots of opportunities for Miami Vice jokes but the dumb color absorbed denim dye from everyone’s jeans so they were a nightmare. By the way, this was our first staging area way back in 2010. People started showing up to cowork in this room in this condition. That’s when I knew I was on to something!

I say all that because I’ve finally found the right furniture for small coworking spaces. I did all the experimentation for you so you don’t have to waste your delicious money screwing up like I did.

General Tips

When it comes to the big stuff like desks and office chairs, RESIST the allure of Craigslist (unless you find the exact type of IKEA things I’m going to recommend, then by all means, have at it!). Why? You’ll likely never find matching items in the quantities you need and when you grow or need more desks or chairs, you’ll never be able to find more of that kind and you’ll wind up in a coworking space that looks a little garage sale-esque. 

While I’m not a fan of prison-like uniformity in color/style throughout your entire space, I am a fan of having 1-2 types of workstations and chairs and then imprinting your unique style using plants, art, mirrors and pillows. This kind of ‘matchiness’ in large furniture makes it super easy to rearrange that furniture later and the room will always look pulled together no matter how you situate the desks.

Want More?

There are EIGHT more pages of pro-tips and a real IKEA shopping list you can print and take to the store to completely furnish a 12 workstation coworking space. Stop wondering and clicking and worrying if a piece of furniture will work for coworking. I’ve done all the heavy lifting. Well, except where you have to go to IKEA and do all the heavy lifting. Get the guide now!

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