During my undergraduate and graduate school years, I spent a lot of time sitting at a desk in my dorm or apartment, working away at papers and reading assignments. I thought of these spaces as simply “my desk.” They often shared the room with my bed, my dresser, and sometimes even my coffee maker. It never occurred to me to call my desk area “my office.”
Now that I’m no longer a student, and I’m working (part-time) from home, I’m reconsidering the way I think of my desk and the little corner of the apartment it occupies. My tiny desk shares our living room with our couch, my fiancé’s desk, my yoga mat, and our coffee table. It’s no private study, but it’s become a space where I can focus on my work and create my professional identity. It’s the center of my organizational prowess (yes, I just said that), but it’s also a place that nurtures my creativity and inspires me to be more myself, in both my professional and personal spheres. And that, my friends, is a home office.
If you do any work from home—even if it’s just paying bills and storing important documents—a home office tailored to your style and needs is a pretty great, perhaps essential, thing to have—even if it just in the corner of another room!
How to Create an Inspiring Home Office Space:
Choose your spot. If you already have a desk set up somewhere you like, you can skip to the next tip. If you don’t, keep in mind that where your office is set up is just as important as how you set it up. What helps you focus on your work? Do you need to be beside a window? (I do!) Do you need peace and quiet, or do you feel more motivated when you’re closer to the everyday bustle of the home? Do you need a more open space? Or can you manage in a tighter space? Plan your office location accordingly.
Decide how you will stay organized. For my blogging work, I keep my beauty and nutrition reference books close by, all in one built-in shelf on my desk. In a magazine holder, I keep recent magazines and file folders of magazine clippings that may inspire articles. By my computer, I’ve posted my weekly work schedule to keep me on track. In my top desk drawer, I use old stationary boxes to keep my paperclips, post-its, and other handy supplies.
Storage is best when it’s organized and accessible. I encourage you to get crafty with your organization. Repurpose old containers and find interesting ways to stack your stuff.
Display what inspires you. This could be as simple as a framed photo of you and your beau or a print of your favorite painting. Alternatively, you could create an inspiration board or a wall collage. Find images or quotes that lift you to a happy, creative place.
Keep it you. Your home office doesn’t have to look like an office in an office building (unless you want it to!). Don’t be afraid to add some homey touches like a candle, a bouquet of fresh flowers, or a throw draped over your chair. Speaking of chairs—keep it comfortable (unless that will put you to sleep, of course!). Depending on the nature of your work, you may not even need a traditional desk in your office. I knew a beautiful poet whose office consisted of bookshelves and a plush chair at the center of the room. Marvelous!
Consider lighting. First, you want to be able to see well. Invest in a good lamp that matches your aesthetic and illuminates enough space. Where the light hits is also important for the feel of your office. My desk lamp is pretty small and stands no more than 1 ½ feet above my desk. It’s perfect for an intimate, cozy vibe. In college, I draped little white Christmas lights around the top shelf of my desk, which created a festive and feminine mood.
Pick your color(s). Do you have a color that really inspires you? Perhaps a bright red chair would suit you perfectly. Or maybe blues will soothe you as you trudge through emails. I love light colors (but also black). You’ll find a lot of pastels (and a bit of black) on my inspiration board!
What kind of office space inspires you?
More working from home tips: 5 Ways to Be Efficient While Working from Home
Related: How to Make Your Apartment Cozy
Photos: Burrs & Berries via Flickr, Mary Hood