A desk crammed into your living room corner hardly inspires productivity and creativity, but sometimes 10-square-feet is all you can spare for your home office. We tapped some creative home design experts for seven tweaks that can help you make a big impact on a small space—making it more efficient and work with your existing decor.
1. Stay on theme. "Is your home all-white, modern and minimalist?" asks Shelly Lynch-Sparks, head of commercial design at Homepolish. "Or perhaps you prefer vintage furniture, funky patterns and bright colors?" Carry those themes into your office corner so that your desk , chair and accessories complement—rather than compete with—the rest of the room. "Your office space should reflect your style and feel cohesive with the rest of the space."
2. Get in the right mindset. "When you're working from home, one of the hardest things is to separate your home life from your work life," says Jodie Watson, organization expert and owner of Supreme Organization. "Say to yourself, 'when I am here, I will work. I'm not doing anything around my house, I'm not paying bills—I am working on my business.'" Make that your mantra each time you sit down at your desk, she says, and watch your productivity increase tenfold.
3. Invest in a comfortable office chair. "I know that hot pink Eames knock-off is adorable, but it isn't practical," says Lynch-Sparks. You can't opt for style at the expense of comfort if you want to log long, productive hours at your desk. "There are an array of chic office chairs out there—and they're worth the extra money so you don't have to spend it at the chiropractor."
4. Add a pop of color. "Color affects your mood and your productivity," Lynch-Sparks says. While cool-and-blue colors conjure calm feelings, primary colors spur energy in your space. So splash paint on a single wall or select a piece of art in hues that inspire the feel-good emotions you want in your home office. "Chromo-therapy is real, so let's get those chakras going!"
5. End the paper trail. "No matter your job, paper is always a problem," says Watson. "Having your papers in order makes all the difference in getting your work done." While there's no one-size-fits-all paper-filing system, consider this general suggestion: Create an "action inbox" where you place papers that need your immediate attention, and file the rest—in an organized, labeled manner—out of sight, Watson says.
6. Go green. "Succulents are my favorite because they're low maintenance and only need to be watered once a week," says Lynch-Sparks. "Plus, you can get a super cute planter to match the rest of your space. Yay for living accent colors!"
7. Put what inspires you front-and-center. Don't shove photos into your desk's corners if gazing at your last vacation motivates you. "Photos of your kids, a motivational message, your to-do list—whatever inspires you and makes it a place you want to be—belong where you can see them," says Watson. "That way, you'll actually enjoy being at 'work.'"
What are some ways you make your home office work best for you?