By Erin Ollila
The breakroom is an integral space in any company, but plenty of breakrooms are either a bit small or oddly shaped — in either case, it can leave workers feeling cramped and unwilling to spend much time there.
But you aren't powerless to change the situation. Using some design tricks, adaptable office breakroom furniture and strategic organization will make your space function better and feel bigger.
Organize Items to Optimize Space
First step: Remove any unnecessary items from the breakroom and store them elsewhere. If you keep spare chairs or office supplies in there, for instance, relocate them to other spaces — buy extra storage cabinets or shelving if you have to. For the items that should be kept in the breakroom, such as snacks or dishes, try adding extra shelves or a storage area that makes use of the space above eye level. Shelves and containers come in every shape and size these days, so measure your available spaces and search for whatever would fit that area.
Wherever possible, try to minimize the amount of items you keep in the breakroom. Buying coffee in bulk is a good idea, for example, but resist storing it all in the breakroom shelves. Set aside a separate supplies area where you can house the items that aren't needed immediately.
Choose Adjustable or Mobile Office Breakroom Furniture
Be creative with furniture. You might try purchasing adjustable pieces, such as tables that can expand for particular activities like staff trainings, but be refitted into smaller shapes when used regularly for lunch times. Chairs that can be folded or broken down also function well as office breakroom furniture, as they can be used when needed but stored away when not in use.
Some furniture sets take up a smaller amount of space; look for table and chair sets where the chairs can be pushed all the way under the table, or tables that are shaped well to fit the areas of your breakroom. You can likely replace two large rectangular tables with four small circular ones, for instance, which allows for more flexibility in arranging your space.
Light Colors Help Enlarge the Room
Sometimes, all you need is a little paint to transform your breakroom. Paint has the power to make a small room feel like it's bigger than it really is, especially when you use light paint from floor to ceiling. Similarly, if you're redoing the floors, a light color is your best option. Use pops of dark color in office paintings or appliances to break up the space and provide some visual interest.
Don't worry about the breakroom color not matching the rest of the aesthetic in your workplace, either. Breakrooms are meant to offer a mini-vacation from the workday, so changing the decor will help your staff reset their minds and return to their work stations refreshed.
Use Visual Tricks to Make the Space Feel Bigger
Mirrors also assist in making a small space feel larger. Hang them horizontally in direct eye range for maximum effect. Also, embrace any windows in the room. Opt for no curtains — blinds are a more streamlined option, and they can let in more natural light.
With just a few simple alterations and some time, you can make your breakroom space grow — or appear to, anyway. Before recommending investments to your boss, it's a good idea to send out a quick survey to the whole company asking what they'd like to see in the space. That way, everyone feels involved and excited for the change.