In the same way decluttering can make you healthier and happier, redecorating can help to generate fresh ideas, boost creativity, and ramp up productivity levels. This is especially true in the places where you spend the most time creating, like at your desk (aka my dining table right now). If you’re feeling unmotivated or uninspired when you sit down to work, then you know it’s time to refresh your workspace and switch up your surroundings.
If, like us, you’re ready to make some physical design changes to your workspace and get those creative juices flowing again, then buckle up because Emily Henderson has all the tips and advice to reinvigorate your space and your state of mind. This is especially needed since many of us have been working from home full-time. But this change has actually positively impacted Henderson’s work life.
“I for one was wildly over scheduled (self-imposed) so it has completely shifted, hopefully permanently, my perspective on work,” she explains. “I love a hustle, and I’m sure I’ll get back into it a bit, but the forced slowdown made me realize how depleted I let myself become. It was like a ‘busy detox’ and I am so much more present now with my kids, it’s crazy! I work less but I feel more productive.” We have to agree. In fact, the idea of returning to a regular office is becoming less and less appealing.
Read on for a few simple updates that will help you turn your place of work (wherever that may be) into a place of joy, inspiration, and somewhere you love to be every day. Because let’s face it, our home desks are a bigger part of our lives than ever before.
image by hannah haston
Figure out what inspires your creativity (and what doesn’t).
Everyone’s brains work differently based on their environment (and your job) so Henderson suggests honing in on what environments inspire you to A. Want to sit down to work and B. Work most productively.
“It’s similar to knowing what music or sounds help you thrive while working, and which ones distract you,” she tells me. “I need as little clutter as possible so I have a tray that corrals the mess so that the rest of the table can be as clear as possible. I need natural light and a super comfortable chair, but it can be a super small space or even at a dining table. So figure out your non-negotiables for productivity and try to hone in on those as best as possible.” Sage advice.
Consider furniture and décor that does double duty.
A lot of us are working from home now but not everyone has the luxury of a dedicated home office space. Henderson suggests investing in multitasking pieces that work hard like you do. Or carve out an area that doubles as your dining table or couch but still feels like a productive working environment. “I like ’the work tray’ which is a tray that keeps it all in one place so you can move around when you need to (or off the table for lunch/dinner),” says Henderson. Or if you’re working from bed, invest in this acrylic bed tray—game changer!
Upgrade your desk accessories.
Think about it—you probably spend at least 40 hours a week at or near your desk, so why not spruce it up to make it feel more like you? “You want your space to reflect your personality for sure, and a lot of this can come in the way of pretty pen cups (I get a strange amount of joy in this) or a beautiful notepad,” says Henderson. “Personalize with what brings you joy, those little things that make you happy and that you want to look at. It could be picture frames, the right stapler, even a stack of awesome design books that keep you inspired.”
Try some of these great solutions for adding more personality to your desk, and helping you stay organized:
— A statement pen holder adds a little quirk to your Monday mornings.
— These stacking trays are a chic way to make stacks of paper look like they belong.
— Combine form and function with a wall calendar pretty enough to frame.
— Level up with these gold-plated scissors. No one will get away with borrowing yours and never returning them again.
Bring in natural elements.
Studies show that nature can instantly make us feel more inspired and see things with a different perspective. If you can’t take breaks to work outside for a few hours of the workday, bring the outside in. Natural gems like seashells, crystals, rocks, and flowers are all inexpensive ways to branch out with your desk décor to include things that give it a real seasonal approach.
Jac Cameron, the co-founder and creative director of AYR Denim in NYC, looks to crystals to decorate her desk space and drum up good energy. “I have a million crystals around me. Next to the candle on my desk, there’s an amethyst crystal. Energetically, I like what it does for me. There’s also labradorite. It has an iridescence, and it’s good for the creative process. And behind me on the windowsill, there are some pieces of rose quartz.” Ommmm.
Surround yourself with those you love.
Another easy way to mix up your décor and refresh your workspace with the seasons is to add some chic picture frames and change out the photos with a few of your favorites. Seeing familiar faces and happy memories will create an instant mood boost and motivate you, too.
Add a few plants.
We already know that having more natural lighting in the office leads to better well-being for employees, but it’s also been proven that having plants in the office results in more productive, less stressed, and more focused employees.
Plants, specifically, have a restorative effect on the brain, and can actually boost concentration levels and attention capabilities. Studies have shown they actually can increase worker productivity by 15%. Our little green friends also decrease stress levels, make us more motivated, and can help clean the air around us. And that’s something we can all get behind.
“Looking or being near nature is hopefully something that most of us can get more of now that we aren’t in big office buildings,” says Henderson. “Position your desk to look out a window if you can, if not then yes, get a pet plant or two to help circulate the air.”
Don’t have a green thumb? No problem. Refresh your workspace with this round-up of our favorite faux plants that look anything but.
Remember what we said about clutter earlier? Fight the urge to shove all of those papers into a junk drawer. Instead use desk storage boxes, baskets, bins, or drawer dividers to organize supplies you don’t necessarily need on your desktop. If you don’t have a desk drawer or prefer certain items to sit on top of your desk, get creative with your storage with stackable drawers or color-coordinated boxes that not only turn clutter into art but make it easier to find what you need when you need it.
Of course, your storage needs very much depend on your job. At a minimum, Henderson says most of us need a tray. But depending on your needs, opt for a desk with drawers to hide junk, or go vertical and opt for either shelving or even a hanging small cabinet to house books/notebooks and general supplies.
Also, labeling and staying on top of your filing will make a huge difference in helping to avoid those scary paper mountains from forming on your desk. Filing can actually be fun when you use beautiful file folders and have somewhere cute to put it all. That stack of paperwork looks suddenly stylish and a lot more manageable to tackle.
Light it up.
Henderson HQ is “big about senses” so that means candles and flowers (even if they are dried or picked from the backyard). “If I didn’t see my kids all day every day I’d probably opt for a photo of them (and maybe I still will) but clutter makes me feel chaotic when I work, so I’m all about setting a vibe without a lot of stuff,” she says.
Lighting candles in the office can help with your creative flow and instantly turn up the cozy vibes at your desk, which oddly enough makes you more motivated to be productive. If lighting candles make you nervous, there are some great flameless candle options to refresh your workspace that will still help to increase overall ambiance and mood as well. Of course, I’ll also forever stand by my theory that a salt lamp can fix anything including candle FOMO in any space.
Make it comfortable.
An office is about more than just appearances. It’s also about functionality and comfort. As you’re refreshing your workspace decor, you may also want to consider making some changes that improve the ergonomics of your space. That could include:
— Investing in a monitor riser that will place the monitor at eye-level. Or, stacking some coffee table books under your monitor to make it sit higher.
— Getting a keyboard tray that places your keyboard below your desk.
— Getting a footstool to put your feet on while you sit.
All of these things really depend on what ergonomic problems you’re having right now, such as sore knees, lower back pain, or sore wrists. Having the right ergonomic solutions will reduce the chances of a repetitive stress injury or other health problems down the road. Most of us spend multiple hours on end sitting at our desks every week, so do yourself a favor and make it a comfortable, homey place where you feel like you can truly produce your best work and enjoy coming to every day.
Henderson’s #1 tip for maximizing your home environment.
“In an office, form follows function, but lucky for us, the market has really started making good looking and comfortable desks and more importantly chairs. Get yourself a comfortable chair,” she advises.
Start refreshing your workspace with some of our favorite home office furniture and décor below.
This post was originally published on January 18, 2021 and has since been updated.