Furnishing an office is one of the biggest expenses a business faces. Wear and tear, changing design trends, and expanding needs can put a major crimp in any company’s budget, especially when employee job satisfaction is so closely tied with the work environment. It’s economical sense to consider all the options when faced with furnishing an office, whether it’s replacing a piece or an entire redesign.
Why Recycled Furniture?
Recycled furniture is not only a viable option, it’s smart. Aside from saving anywhere from 30-70% on the cost, you’re reducing your carbon footprint and relieving America’s landfills of some of the 3 million tons of office furniture discarded every year. Here are more than a few reasons to give your inner recycled/upcycled shopper some authority:
You don’t have to compromise on quality.
Most “used” furniture consisted of overstocked inventory: discontinued, former floor-model, refurbished, or sold by a company upgrading their furniture. Quality is not always the issue, but space is. One company’s ill-fitting office suite is another company’s golden find.
Style that stands the test of time.
If something has been recycled instead of discarded, it’s generally a classic style that retains value. Plenty of vintage furniture, especially midcentury modern office furniture, has been rescued from the pre-owned section. Many of these pieces can’t even be distinguished as second-hand.
If you can look past the grit and wear of something previously owned, the design options are endless. An ugly wood desk can be sanded and re-stained, eye-searingly colored chairs reupholstered. The choices can be far more creative than sometimes even new furniture.
Try before you buy.
Pre-owned or recycled furniture comes already assembled. You can sit on the chairs, test the sturdiness of the office desks, and get real measurements for tight spaces when you see the furniture instead of shopping online. Dimensions are a bunch of numbers. Feeling the back support of the most amazingly comfortable chair is something that can’t be conveyed by a picture on a screen.
This sort of goes without saying, but you’ll do more than save on the overall price. New furniture sometimes comes with unanticipated fees, delivery, stocking, and assembly. If you do the setup yourself, it costs you time and potential frustration. Purchasing refurbished furniture means it’s delivered the day after you’ve finalized the transaction, and can be placed immediately, getting you and your employees back to work faster.
How to Purchase Smart, Not Just Second-Hand
As with any office equipment purchase, know with whom you’re doing business. Check a furniture dealer’s reputation before you commit. Ask to see their products in another customer’s office space, and do some comparison shopping. Second-hand doesn’t always mean a better deal. Many experienced dealers will honor an original manufacturer’s warranty if the warranty period hasn’t expired. Some remanufacturers will also provide a warranty on their work.
Part of your homework is knowing the products. What’s the difference between something remanufactured, refurbished, or reused?
Remanufactured is a piece restored to its original condition. This means replacing parts that are broken or show too much wear and tear, and generally making the piece like new.
Refurbished is cleaning, repairing, touching up, reupholstering or repainting, and making the existing piece like new again. Upcycling—the practice of making a piece of furniture better than original manufacturing—falls into this category. In some instances, these pieces outstrip new in every way: quality, aesthetic, and price.
Reused is an item sold “as-is,” with no repair work done. These are typically the least expensive pieces that offer the most customization. A rip in a cushion is no big deal if you plan to replace all the cushions in the fabric design of your choice anyway, but that scratch-and-dent price can’t be beat any other way.
So Where Do You Look?
There are reputable remanufactured furniture dealers all over the country, some of whom do the searching for you or hold inventory from purchasing other companies’ discards. Recycling happens everywhere, and while some of these methods will take more time than others, the deals can be superb, leading to an overall amazing office of which you can be proud.