There are two times of year that I start naturally thinking about my home office. The first is September. I think it’s just left-over associations with going back to school that have stayed with me all these years and so I start thinking of all my favourite organisational tools, stationery, pens, etc. The second time is in January. The whole idea of a fresh clean slate is incredibly appealing and after answering all my year-end questions (which, if you missed them, are here) I’m ready to begin my working year anew.
The problem with this particular January is that we’re moving soon. We still don’t have an official move-in date (at which point, packing will begin in earnest) but hopefully, all going well, we are hoping to be in our new house sometime mid-to-late February. I was desperate to give my office a makeover in September (see? It’s always at those times of year). The truth is, I’m a bit over all the pink in here but then the decision to move came and the house went on the market and I knew there was little point in starting that project then. As a result, this January has given me incredibly itchy feet.
At this moment in time, I don’t yet have an office to design and plan. In the new house, we are going to be reworking the entire downstairs layout (more on this at some point soon) and included in that downstairs layout will be my new office but the kitchen and dining room will be the priority and my office will be a little lower down on the list. As there’s little I can do right now – when I REALLY want to do it – I thought I’d channel those feelings into a post about what you should probably have in your home office if you are lucky enough to be planning one or have one that needs a little refresh and rethink.
I struggled with storage for quite some time in my own office but managed to find a wonderful couple of shelving units as well as a lovely mid-century sideboard that houses pretty much everything I need it to. Choose both open and closed if you like to have some things on display and boxes and baskets are wonderful for stashing things that you need access to but aren’t necessarily attractive to look at. Assess your needs before you buy, though. For me, I wanted somewhere to store all the bits and pieces that I use for styling that don’t have a home for as well as my photography equipment so, as an example, a huge filing cabinet would have been pretty much useless. I needed cabinets for the small stuff, shelving for the large.
I also needed somewhere to stash a small amount of business paperwork and my filing and so a simple file folder holder, as well as a few dedicated file boxes did the trick. Your needs are likely to be different but see where things are piling up and decide what storage works best for your own circumstances before buying anything. If you are struggling on space, consider scanning any important documents and then backing them up in a cloud for safekeeping to keep the clutter and paperwork at bay.
I would always recommend a home office space where you get plenty of good natural light. Your body and your mind are able to function and concentrate on the work you do if you are not having to strain your eyes to see what you’re doing. Choose an area in your home that gets a lot of natural light – it will raise your spirits if you are spending a lot of time there given the benefits of Vitamin D and the propensity of sunlight to raise your serotonin levels, keeping you motivated and your concentration levels high.
If for whatever reason, that’s just not possible or you are working in a country where light is limited in the winter months (like I do), then you’ll also need to consider ambient as well as task lighting. You don’t want to be struggling to see what you’re doing, after all. Of course, where most offices resort to horrible strip lighting, in your own home, you can be a bit more creative. There are some incredible task lights on the market at the moment for not a huge amount of money and when you are looking at something day in and day out, it might as well be attractive whilst doing its job.
A comfy chair
Liv from Lust Living’s beautiful black, white and gold office sports a gorgeous office chair – yes, they do exist!
If you are spending a lot of time at your desk during the day (or evening), then you’re going to need proper support for your back and legs as it can lead to all kinds of physical problems down the road. Sitting for long periods of time, lumbar support is super important. As much as I love my black and gold chair, the leg support isn’t fantastic as I’m learning and I think it really probably needs to be replaced in time. No matter what kind of chair you might have, you’ll want to take breaks and stretch your legs every hour. Good excuse to go for a cuppa then.
A good planner
I’m quite enamoured with this beautiful Hello Day planner.
Having space for random paperwork is one thing but organising your thoughts is completely another. I have a written planner, plenty of smaller notebooks as well as an online calendar to keep track of any important tasks I have for the day, week and month as well as for ideas that I want to come back to at a later date.
I know bullet journalling is quite popular and I considered giving it a go this year but I have a feeling it would never be as beautiful as some of the examples I’ve seen over on Pinterest. I just don’t have neat enough handwriting or particularly great drawing skills! No matter what kind of plan you decide on, I think it does take some trial and error to figure out a system that works best but there are so many incredible stationery suppliers that will keep that mess of information in your head so much easier to keep on top of.
Aniko from Place of My Taste knows how to bring life into a home office – how gorgeous are all those plants?!
Admittedly, in the winter I struggle with plants. A severe lack of sunny days means I almost always lose a few and they end up getting piled around any sunny window I may have to give them the best possible chance of survival, even if it just means lots of indirect natural light on endless grey days. Of course, real plants will always be better as they act as natural air filters but I’m absolutely not opposed to a few faux plants to liven up your home office if it means adding some greenery and colour. A little life will always provide any room with a bit of additional organic dimension and plants have been known to increase productivity and happiness in any office setting.
I’m also a big believer that pretty much any room can benefit from a few well-chosen pieces of art. They don’t necessarily have to be expensive and there are some great companies which supply mass-produced art at great prices. The thing is, your home office is an extension of your home. It’s not some crappy personality-less office cubical. So decorate it as you would the rest of your home and breathe some of your own personality into the space.
Moodboard #goals from A Fabulous Fete
Moodboards or Vision Boards are also a great idea if you are in a creative industry to help invigorate and inspire you when you hit those inevitable creative blocks. They can be personalised however you like and you’ll always have a visual reminder of the things that inspire you to work hard and achieve your goals.
Pretty Desk Accessories
Pretty gold wire desk accessories – I have a few of these pieces courtesy of Chickidee Homeware
I’m such a sucker for some nice desk accessories and well if you can’t organise your stationery for the sheer joy of it, what can you do? And so I’m adding this to my list of must-haves because when your immediate workspace is cheerful and enjoyable, you won’t actually mind sitting at your desk to start your day. My own desk has a never-ending rotation of items and while you can find some incredibly expensive desk sets, I find a more mix-and-match approach is always nice. At the moment, a pretty spent candle is holding pencils and a tiny candle tray is holding my business cards and I have a little ceramic bunny that holds my paperclips. You can be as creative as you like when choosing what works for you but there are also some really fabulous desk accessories on the market right now. I particularly like the wire effect ones in gold as they are inexpensive, don’t take up a lot of visual space on your desk and look great.
And finally, what you add to your home office to make it work for you is entirely up to you and this means you can express your personality around your home office however you wish. When I decorated my office a couple of years ago, I wanted some bold wallpaper and a few clashing patterns because it invigorated me. I think my next office may be a bit more subdued (although a beautiful wallpaper is still on my list) but I loved it for a long time – I just happen to have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to my room designs. But you should always do you. Bring in things that are personal to you and that motivate you to do the best job you can. If that’s pictures of your kids alongside of a ‘World’s Best Mum’ mug then go for it. If it’s letters from your clients telling you that you changed their life for the better, pin that shit up on a board and read it every day. If it’s an award or an accolade, get that up on the shelves. Celebrate your achievements, create a personal space and I promise you’ll thrive.
What are your own office must-haves? I’d love to know what you have in your own home offices. Go! The comment box awaits…