Working from home sounds like a dream to those who don’t do it.
– Spruce Up Stylist, Fiona Kelly of Fiona Finds
Though working from home does indeed provide flexibility and other perks it can also be challenging in terms of separating life from work. One of the best ways to make a clear separation between a pending project and a pile of laundry or other non-job related tasks is to have a designated work space. This does not require you to have a separate room in your home or apartment. In fact, it can be a converted closet or a nook in the kitchen. The goal is to create a mental separation between paying work and (non-paying) life chores by creating a joyful and productive area to focus. The following list offers a few key elements for making this a reality. In general, things that appeal to you visually will inspire you. Truthfully, you don’t need to invest a ton of money to make your workspace look and feel great.
A flat surface
Notice that I didn’t say desk. You can use any surface that is conducive to your space and the type of work that you do. If all you need is a computer then get a small table or use existing counter space. If you need a place to lay things out or accommodate clients or peers for meetings get a slick dining table. Think outside the box.
Just you? Get yourself a comfortable and stylish chair. There are so many out there. An iconic mid-century reproduction, spinning desk chair, a vintage find. Get what feels and looks good to you.
It will help define the space and offer a sense of warmth. Something soft and cozy will feel great on your bare toes (you work from home remember!)
Try to be near a window and have it opened slightly for some fresh air. If it’s chilly, grab a sweater. If you are confined to a space with no window you can strategically hang a large mirror that is positioned to reflect natural light. The mirror will also create an illusion of a more open and light filled area.
A house plant on your desk, succulents growing in wall planters, a large floor plant placed in the corner of the room or perhaps a vase of fresh flowers. Whatever you like. A natural element will look beautiful and clear toxins in the air.
This is a nice way to get visually stimulated and get those creative juices flowing. Feel free to rotate your art in and out a few times a year to keep it fresh.
Stylist Tip: The general guideline for hanging artwork is to center the piece at about 5′-5″ above your floor. It’s lower than you think, but works for all heights of people. Exceptions to this, is if you are hanging artwork above a piece of furniture that might dictate the height. Just don’t leave too much space between the art & the furniture piece. Typically 6-10″ is appropriate. If you are hanging multiple art pieces side-by-side, leave about 3-5″ between them, depending on the size of each piece.
This is so important! Even if you have a space filled with natural light you will inevitably be working on cloudy days or in the evening. Have a light source that provides good task lighting but is also warm and soft. You can choose a decorative ceiling fixture, a floor lamp or desk lamp but choose something that suites your style and focuses light where you need it.
An attractive trash receptacle
You’ll need one so you might as well pick one that you love! This one is in the top 10 most liked items in our style tuner!
Mood boards shouldn’t be limited to creative types. These are really intended to be visual stimulants that help you stay focused and inspired in those moments when you want to get up for a (nother) snack or to unload the dishwasher. Instead, stand up, stretch and look at your mood board. It is something you will have created yourself that is totally unique, filled with images, quotes, documents etc. that inspire you. Mood boards should be a joy to create and a joy to look at. Add what feels good to you. I used to love making collages so I really get into compiling my boards. The payback is great when I need some energy and inspiration. I cut out fashion images, pictures of places I want to travel, handwritten quotes or words of wisdom, business cards from people whom I admire or from businesses I love, a card or drawing from my kids. The possibilities are endless.
Unless you MUST have your smart phone next to you at all times, keep your phone in another room and have a clock somewhere so you can track time. If you use the timer on your phone for tasks, set it, then move your phone and leave it be until the timer goes off. Don’t create or add distractions for yourself.
Keep it clean and simple
Nothing will bring you joy more that a clean area. Decide what part of your office will, without question be cleaned and organized at the end of your work cycle. You want to start clear-headed, prepared and focused when you come back to work so really take the time to do this. Clutter be gone! The smaller your workspace, the less opportunity you have to shift things around without processing. Keep flat surfaces to a minimum. You need a space for your computer and perhaps a few shelves or book case for papers, a printer and other miscellaneous things. If you store items for work, figure out a way to be organized about it and keep other non-essential material stored out of site.
As a stylist, I collect props and other finds for when the right project comes along. I used to display them in my office because most of the pieces were nice to look at but it started to feel like there were too many distractions. I moved everything down to the basement (well labeled boxes work well too) and downsized to a desk, chair, plant and small bookcase for books, cards and important documents. Less really is more.
Good luck on your journey to creating a home office that brings you joy!