More firsts: Budget for basic furniture before you can fly.


Use the excel spreadsheet for how much money you have, vs. how much stuff you need. You want to figure out how much will get eaten by the sheer multiplier of your team.

It’s always surprising to meet a CEO/CFO to whom one must explain that a 30 person office needs 30 desks and 30 chairs. And one must pay for them. No matter how cheap those desks and chairs are, they’ll put a real dent in your 50/100/800K budget. Here’s what I mean:

Cheapest stuff that won’t make you want to gauge your eyes out:

Task Chairs $250 * 30 = $7500

Desk $350 * 30 = $10,500

Storage $200 * 30 = $6,000

Total = $24,000 x 15% (taxes + delivery estimate)+ $3600

Real total = $27,600

(If you’re a true start-up, and your budget is in the 50K range, that’s a lot. This is also the time to question if designing a space for 30 employees when you have 15 today is really what you want to do. (You can always add more later.)

Mid range:

Task Chairs $550*30 = $16,500

Desk $500*30 = $15,000

Storage $300*30= $9,000

Total = $40,500 x 15% (taxes + delivery estimate) = $6075

Real total = $46,575

If your budget is $110–150K, you’re in decent shape. That assumes that the “work” is limited to painting, wallcovering, maybe some lights here and there. If it’s lower, consider axing some/most/all of the storage as it’s included on auto-pilot for most offices, but is seldom needed.

Still over? Keep the good chairs. Go lower on the desk number.


Chair $900*30= $27,000

Desk $1500*30 = $45,000

Storage $800*30= $24,000

Total = $96,000 x 15% (taxes + delivery estimate) = $14,400

Real total = $110,400

This is unrealistic for most. If you’re doing well, and want to invest in your staff, getting everyone good chairs will get you the most bang for your buck.

For the rest your budget, go closer to mid-range.

The key to this exercise is backing into per unit (ie. per employee) numbers that are realistic for you, not deciding whether you’re “low, medium, or high end”. Start with your desired end result (total budget), add in the communal areas(see below) and manipulate the cells until the numbers add up.

Again, prioritize. Always veer on the side of the more expensive chair, less expensive desk. When in doubt, toss the desk storage.

People spend their lives in their offices: let the keep their backs and their eyes while doing it. Light requires it’s own post: it’s coming.

2. Budgeting for communal space:

a. Large Conference Room: everyone seems to need one:

i. Low End: 2 dining tables that slide together :$2,000

ii. Mid-Range: Find the cheapest carpenter you can: $6,000

iii. High-End: Go shopping (suggestions in later posts): $12,000

b. Medium Conference Room ( 4–6 people conf. One per 5–10 Employees)

i. Low End:

1. Table — $500

2. Chairs (4) @ $400 = $1600

ii. Mid-Range:

1. Table = $1000

2. Chairs (4) @ 800 = $3200

iii. High-End:

1. Table $3000

2. Chairs (4) @1500 = $6000

c. Small Conference Rooms/Phone Booths. Same number as Medium-Conference Rooms.

i. Low End: $1,000/Room

ii. Mid-Range:

4. TRADEOFFS. Most need to make them, so lets start with the low-hanging fruit:

d. Your accountant needs a lockable storage/desk file-thing. Your intern does not. Most offices start with the assumption that everyone needs storage. They end with the CFO and accountant getting storage.

e. Desk lights. You probably don’t need these. Look into swapping the lights

f. People spend 8–16 hours a day in their chairs. Get the best you can afford. There’s a world of options out there, start with:

Low-End: Sit on it — Novo

Mid-range: Sayl Chair

High-end: Classic Aeron Chair