Courtesy Joy Cho/Oh Joy! on Instagram
Real Simple
May 04, 2018 4:30 pm

Whether you work from home or have carved out a space for something you love like crafting, reading, or writing, your home office is a place that should inspire the flow of creativity and allow you to get down to business. But often, that’s not the case. In fact, home offices can be the most neglected spaces in our homes—messy and unfriendly environments for inspiration, driving us to work anywhere but in the actual office, like the couch, or kitchen, or bed (guilty!). To help you create and update your own inspiring space, we asked experts—from designers to bloggers and editors—for their advice on the best home office updates and small home office ideas that will make you want to buckle down and get to work.

1. Think chic

Your space should inspire you—and reflect your unique personality. So don’t be afraid to go all out. “We wanted to design a space that was fashionable, functional and reflected homeowner Desi Perkins’ personality. The black accent wall added some drama and depth to the space and we added a chandelier above the desk to add a little glitz and glamour. The wood tiled sideboard keeps the space organized, serving as a storage unit for beauty products and countertop for office supplies. The functionality of the space makes it possible for Desi to stay on top of the business side of her career while the chic decor provides the perfect backdrop for her videos and Instagram photos.” — Leura Fine, CEO and Founder of Laurel & Wolf

Get The Look: One way to glam up a home office is by refreshing your lighting. This eye-catching pendant lamp with gold detailing from Target will give your space a luxurious, yet professional feel.

2. Add green

Breathe some life into your space, so you’ll want to stay longer. “I try to ensure a balanced home office which is practical, ergonomic, comfortable, and clean—if these elements aren’t in place I know I’ll end up working at the kitchen table! A lovely plant is said to help keep you feeling calm and clean the air—plus it looks pretty too. I like either a Snake Plant or a ZZ plant. Both look lovely, are good for cleaning the air, and are low maintenance!” — Niki Brantmark, Author and Founder of My Scandinavian Home

Get The Look: We adore this elevated cute little clay planter—perfect home for a snake plant—to add some dimension to your work space.

3. Get artsy

Decorate with images that speak to you. Even if you’re crunching numbers all day. “Fill your office with vibrant art to energize your space and make you feel motivated. I create my own artwork and have it framed by Simply Framed, or I shop from Chairish and Society6.” — Dabito, Founder & Creative Director at Old Brand New

Get The Look: Dabito is happy to share his genius DIY instructions for his multi-purpose wall shelf/desk. (They’re surprisingly easy to follow, phew!) But if you don’t want to spend your Saturday spray-painting and building shelves this wall unit from Ikea is a similarly chic option that can be up and ready fast!

4. Find the rug

Ground your space with a colorful area rug—for visual interest and soothing sound-absorption. “The multi-colored rug brings in other colors that accent the peach and green nicely, too. But you could also do a neutral gray rug with this color combo. Keep the furniture simple and clean to make it more sleek, and then add in some green foliage to give the room some texture!” — Joy Cho, Founder & Creative Director of Oh Joy!

Get The Look: World Market is great for beautiful, affordable textiles, and we’re loving this multi-shaded patterned rug, which works with light blue, plum, apricot, or creamy white walls.

5. Practice hygge

Related article: Small decor swaps for a summer-ready bedroom

Make it welcoming—but not too cozy that all you want to do is nap. “Neutral colors on your walls and floor, paired with natural wood, plants and some kind of textile, like blankets, throw pillows, rugs or a yarn wall hanging, create a simple yet cozy working space.” — Caitlin & Manda, Co-founders of The Merrythought

Get The Look: This soft space-dyed throw from West Elm is just what your home office needs. Create a DIY blanket ladder, and hang a few wool ones near your desk for keeping warm in winter; switch them out with thin, cotton ones in the summer.

6. Hang a gallery wall

It’s your space—crowd it with what you love. “Style a gallery wall against a neutral wall. You can arrange them on the floor first, moving the prints around until you achieve the harmonious look that you want. Use removable wall strips to hold your prints up. This allows for the flexibility of changing the look of the wall.” — Geraldine Tan, Founder & Editor of Little Big Bell

Get The Look: We love Minted for their huge, affordable collection of prints. They also provide a free service so that you can text a picture of your wall to their stylists, and they’ll put together a recommendations of art pairings for you. Matting and frames are a way to make art prints look more expensive and styled, but can be a pricey investment. Don’t rule out Michaels—they do custom framing in store!

7. Mix old and new

Don’t be afraid to steal decor from other rooms in the house. A mix of vintage and modern makes a home feel warm and lived in and personal, instead of feeling like a showroom. “We paired a gorgeous antique rug that the client already had (hidden away in a dark spot elsewhere in the house!) and a pair of new red chairs. The art on the walls is limited to black and white images so that the color in the space doesn’t become too overwhelming. It is such a comfortable, beautiful room to work in.” — Melissa Mascara, Designer at Homepolish

Get The Look: Nothing in the attic? Shop antique stores, flea markets, and even Craigslist to find pieces for your office, whether it’s an aged roll top desk or vintage lamp, and pair these with brand new items, like a pair of vibrant chairs for guests to use when you’re hosting a meeting from home.

8. Let light in

Stay connected to the great outdoors. “Natural light makes a space feel bigger—which is always a plus in a small space. For my home office I actually used fogged window film on all the windows so I could always have the blinds up. This allows enough light to feed the plants in the room and keep them, as well as myself, lively! And when you feel alive, you’re always more efficient.” — Hayley Francis, Founder and Blogger at Neon Doves

Get The Look: If you, like Hayley, have an office that also functions as a dressing room/walk-in closet, affix a non-adhesive frosted film to windows, to allow sunlight into your space while maintaining privacy.

9. Work in color

Choose colors that speak to you—not what’s trendy. “I found this Stone Blue color by Farrow & Ball provided the perfect background for a productive day’s work. Having a bit of fun with the filing cabinets in a non-conventional turquoise meant that even the more functional elements of the room looked attractive.” — Emily Murray, Founder & Editor at The Pink House

Get The Look: Whether you’re painting office walls, shelves, and ceiling with one color to make the space feel larger, or using a filing cabinet like this one from CB2 for just a pop of color, working in a color-filled environment can make you more inspired to work from your office—and not the couch.

10. Optimize your space

Organization is key—use every trick in the book. Nobody works well in a messy home office. “Don’t waste an ounce of space by tucking printers, filing, etc into corners and in drawers. Use all your vertical space, too, by putting cabinets up to the ceiling with varying types of storage and a wall hanging pin board to help organize supplies that might otherwise end up shoved in a drawer!” — Carly Callahan, Designer at Homepolish and Founder of Callahan Interiors.

Get The Look: This is one home office decor idea that’s non-negotiable! Kick off your newfound commitment to organization with this rose gold wall grid.

This article originally appeared on Real Simple.

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