Perhaps. But I am uncomfortable with saying something is "set dressing" when there are formal rules for it. Also, I end up in way better position for when I enchant most of that stuff ! (Yes, I could just enchant an anvil, call it a lab magic item, and just drop it in my lab, no seasons spent "incorporating". Those are the rules. I would also expect the ST to mug me sometime down the road, too . There are the rules, and there are the "RULES"........)
Given that labs get destroyed too, I have the same concerns about over-customizing the lab.
That is why the Lab structure got enchanted ....... (And, of course, If you are setting up a Lab from scratch, there are a lot of "free" virtues you can get that add to safety. Spacious and Well Insulated get you a +3, and I can't think of anything with a risk modifier with higher. Mind, I didn't look too hard, not my style.)
That's one interpretation of RAW. Another is that you must still spend a season aligning the mystical energies with the structural properties of the lab to realize any benefit to Hermetic Magic. I don't recall (but there might be statements indicating the possibility) that you can add certain minor structure flaws for free as part of construction. And even so, they still take up virtue points that someone might want to use for something else.
"Free" lab virtues, according to Covanents, P.113, "Take up a negligible contribution to space", and "Free virtues have no space and (usually) no seasonal construction requirement. They may be gained in a day or two if the relevant materials are procured, or if the relevant circumstances are satisfied.". The rules are clear, they take up no "virtue space" (Aka, their space is 0, as opposed to Major and Minor virtues, which have a space of 1), and take, at best, a day to "attune the mystical energies". I said free for a reason. They are FREE!
I know you don't like to look at the rulez, by your own admission, but Spacious and Well Insulated are Minor virtues, not Free virtues.
Ah, look again, Spacious is special. Convenants, P. 114, "If building a lab from scratch, and if space permits, you may choose to start with this Virtue, without needing an extra season of work.". As to the other, memory makes a mocker of us all. I meant Superior Construction. The total safety, beginning, is still +3. What could I do, early, that would need more?
Magic item lab free virtues are easy to spiff up a basic lab, but they cost seasons on their own to create. "Enchanting an anvil" and dropping it in your lab likely cost you just as much time as putting in a mundane focus, and cost you vis to boot. The only time savings comes if you can (like any Verditius worth their salt) enchant a focus "faster" per plus than installing a mundane one. Most magi besides Verditius are simply not going to be able to meet that standard.
Thematically, it fits quite well that a Verditius' lab is filled with magic items support his work, and that other traditions rely more upon other boni.
Oh, no argument there. Alas, enchanting an anvil and dropping it in LOOKS like you are avoiding the rules to incorporate a focus into the lab. I have just found it easier to install the sucker, then enchant it. Arguing with the ST over the rules is not fun, not why we play the game, yes?
Oh, yes. I burn to discover Awakened Devices, so I can have a Disney Lab......
The big advantage of installing then enchanting is that it gives you two boni, +3 (Greater Focus) Items, and then +3-4 in whatever Te/Fo specialty you enchant it with... PLus it reduces the clutter.
Oh, yeah, it's pretty cool. I would point out you can enchant it in a "Specialization", such as items.....