Your Office: Make It Pretty & Functional

Let's talk about your home workspace for a moment, shall we? What does it look like? Is it accomplishing what you need it to? Are you proud of it or are you a blurred streak running to shut the door to contain the chaos whenever friends drop by? It doesn't have to be the room of terror. Sometimes it only takes an afternoon of organizing and updating to give your room a 'magazine' touch that still feels human. Why not feel pride for the space you call your own? It doesn't have to be perfect or even tidy, but it does have to inspire you and support your goals or else what's the point of spending time in there, right!?

While I cannot visit you at home to help organize and decorate your office, I can at least encourage you to start by clearing unnecessary clutter and to gain control over the chaos. Take a good hard look at your chair, is it comfortable? Do you have a mood board that inspires you or have you not updated it in eight months? Is the paint color on the walls a good hue for working or could you try a fresh, new color? How about the lighting (most important after seating) - You can easily update your lighting on a budget by visiting your local IKEA or Target store.

When I help friends and clients update their office space, I question them pretty much to death and then take my handy clipboard along for a complete tour. I draw 3 columns on a page listing all of the things that I see that do not work and the things that do, along with a third column of what could be improved but isn't absolutely needed right away. I also photograph the space and look at the photos on my home computer afterwards because I often find hidden flaws that I missed with my naked eye.

I encourage you to be your own decorator and inspect your space in a similar manner. You can even photograph it and share it on your blog or on Flickr, etc. to see what your online buddies have to say. Your goal is to make your home office completely work for you, you shouldn't dread opening the door each morning and you certainly shouldn't have to hide it from visitors!

This is a little 'quick makeover' tip I do at home myself -- I've talked about it here on decor8 before... I have a piece of glass cut to fit the top of my desk and each month I change the theme by switching out the fabric, wallpaper, or wrapping paper that I place between the desktop and the glass. It's a really inexpensive way to spruce up your space (once the initial glass top is purchased).

Of course, I cannot simply talk about pretty offices. I must show you a few of my favorites from a site I like to look at for inspiration called House to Home. I've already showed you a few above, more will follow below. If you are as visual as I am, you'll walk away feeling like ripping apart your office and transforming it into your personal paradise. Here in Germany I'm about to carve out a little workspace for myself so when I finish it, I'll show you my work spot here. Give me a week or two though, I still haven't located a desk and a proper chair, but I did find an amazing vintage 1950's mirror to go over it, just you wait because I know you'll LOVE it when I show you...

A simple shutter from a home store or a flea market can make a nice memo/inspiration board for the desk.

Style your inspiration board in a way that not only stimulates your imagination, but provides a nice focal point for the room. A bright lampshade on a simple lamp base perks up a desk.

My love of maps and vintage charts as decor runs deep (see this post for more inspiration), so of course this office caught my eye. You can also use maps as wallpaper and paste them on an entire wall, something that's been a bit of a trend over the past year or so.

A unique rug in a floral shape paired with a bold print over the desk (adhere your favorite fabric over foam core for example) and you have a few places for the eye to travel, avoiding the clutter on your desktop! Globes as decor are still a pretty hot trend, esp. vintage ones.

This office is a little to sterile for my tastes, but I appreciate the layout and love the picture ledges shown. Simple ledges or a shelf from IKEA can transform a space dramatically. Best part, you do not have to constantly hammer new holes in the wall when you want to rearrange your art work, just lean them on the wall using a shelf with a 'lip' or ledge and you can arrange them in a new way whenever the mood strikes you.

For some work areas, clutter is part of life because one may need many materials to perform their job (such as a seamstress or painter) and cannot bother with being overly neat. We all work differently, there is no right or wrong way to arrange your work space (with the exception of ergonomics, one must always give consideration to how they are working so please educate yourself about this to avoid potential health problems). However if you are feeling less productive in your space lately, or discouraged by its arrangement, no worries... A simple day set aside to access and organize your room can work magic. Ask a friend who has an office you envy to give you some advice or better yet, see if she'll stop over to give you some hands-on advice. In exchange, you can bake her your best cookies or offer to babysit for an evening so she can have an evening to herself. When it comes to where you dream, imagine, connect, create... You should like the spot you've carved out so you can do your best work.

We're about to approach a long weekend soon (Labor Day in the states, first weekend of September), so why not spend that extra day off sprucing up your workspace? If you have a before and after photo, send it over... I just may show it here on decor8 as an example of what a little creativity and hard work can do. :)

(All images from House to Home, permission given by Claire Toms.)