A Holistic Approach To Creating Your Perfect Office Space
If you’ve ever seen the desk inspo account @BeyondTheDesktop, you know how preoccupied with peoples’ workspaces Beyond The Interview is. Personally, I sincerely believe that pride and focus in the aesthetic of one’s workspace is essential for esteem, motivation, and creative stimulation, and, for the majority of this article, I will be speaking about spaces that are a bit larger than the corner desk space, and way more private than your local coffee shop bistro table.
The entire process of creating your most functional work starts by stopping to consider the type of person you are. Where do your comforts lie? Are you relaxed and simplistic in nature, or more complex, stimulated, and loud? I read an article once comparing one’s perfect office space to a reflection of their wardrobe style preferences, and I found the comparative metaphor to be spot on. Do you prefer casual wear and sportswear, or are you a fan of mixing colors and patterns? Are you drawn to cotton or to cashmere? Do you seek out trends and the latest collections or stick with tried-and-true staple pieces?
All of these questions really do help frame the description of one’s personal aesthetic. Your space should stimulate you like your yellow dress, keep you even-tempered like your denim and neutral articles, and totally relax you like your sweats and running shoes. To create the perfect workspace, the recipe calls for a careful consideration of your walls, your desktop, your rug and chair, and most important, your accessories and paraphernalia (which I’ll expand on below).
An indispensable office tip is to consider generously what makes you happy and what your general needs are. I enjoy keeping up with the news, at an albeit unhealthy level, so it was crucial for me to have a television that was visible from my desk. As a caffeine fiend, I also have an espresso machine, as well as a few single shot cups, passed down to me from an old friend and bottles of red wine and scotch within reach at any given times. A personal office space is just that—personal. Allow yourself to cultivate a space that both rewards the work you’ve done and feeds the procrastination, or “thinking time” as I like to call it, that is inherent in the creative process.
It’s important to be comfortable and wholly yourself in the space where you work. The goal is to relax into the real you, stimulated by an atmosphere that begets your more authentic ideas (while also feeding your drive and alertness). When you build a space to reflect your spirit, your work will in turn reap the benefits. And this theory does not just apply to people working in a creative field. We do our best when we feel good—so for anyone with a job they consider serious or unimaginative, your space should still reflect you.
Take me, for example. I grew up in New York, and although my life and work has been in Los Angeles for nearly 10 years, I truly believe that when one is a New Yorker, they will always be exactly that. The casual sneaker and workout-clothing-optional fashion climate of L.A. gave rise to an almost daily uniform of leggings and a vintage tee. But this is strictly conditional, as one rarely finds me underdressed when I’m back East. I’m not afraid to mix colors, patterns and fabrics. In fact, this sartorial pastiche inspires me, and the same rush of aesthetic pleasure is exactly what I went for when creating my home office over the last year in L.A.—layered patterns, rich colors, and carefully-chosen accessories that make me feel as pleased as one can get from an external, inanimate source.
I rarely shy away from color, and more than one area of my house is bathing in it, but for my office, I really wanted to overwhelm my senses by using a mixture of animal prints, antiques, red accents, and an intense wallpaper that attacks you from all angles. As a writer, I wanted my space to be filled with symbols of creativity and history. My father’s side of the family is the artistic one; my grandmother, Sally Eilers, was a silent film actress and my grandfather was a producer and director. My father was a writer who worked in every medium, from playwriting to poetry. As all of the above family members are no longer in the land of the living, I have some fun artifacts I inherited from their own work spaces (the best kind) which add a spiritual history and familial energy to the place where I develop my ideas. I have some university accolades and other nonspecific awards and certificates that I have placed in gold frames and lined the walls bordering my balcony doors.
My desk is an executive desk from 1943. Antiques bring with them a narrative, and I thoroughly enjoy sitting at my desk—covered in candles and small objects—and contemplating all the possibilities of it’s life previous to being in my possession. Did it belong to a businessman? A doctor? A writer? Were important meetings held in its presence? I also have a chandelier from 1932 to illume my nighttime writing sessions in a bit of history.
Antiques are magical in this way, and I highly recommend finding something fun with historical sense to adorn your work space. They do not have to be costly—in fact, vintage objects are often cheaper than today’s West Elm or Pottery Barn ephemera. I have collected things like typewriters and inkwells from flea markets over the years to conjure up writers of the past. If I were a doctor, perhaps I would seek out a Victorian-era stethoscope. If I were a banker, perhaps an antique calculator, abacus, or set of scales. My mother, who works passionately for animals, collects fossils and small porcelain owls and crabs to keep her happy as she sits at her desk. Maps, across the board, I find, are always a lovely thing to collect if the world inspires you. If you want some more good energy, bring on the crystals—I know little about them but find the accessories make lovely enhancements to a space.
Earlier I referred to the important of light at my desk. It’s not only necessary to see the work in front of you but also essential to setting the vibe, especially if you’re a creative. I shamelessly fill my office with dozens of scentless candles and will light them all at once to stimulate an intense writing session. There’s something about a flickering blaze that invokes a Charles Foster Kane-amount of gravitas to a situation, deal-making or not. Scent is another factor in activating my work space. Like a fresh bouquet of flowers, a candle whose aroma envelops the entire room alerts the mind and signals a get-down-to-business concentration level. I’ll light up my Reading Candle and induce a Pavlovian response for when it’s time to focus on an important work document or marathon writing spell.
Deskside accoutrements can ultimately determine how productive and organized you stay while sitting down to work. I like to think of stationary, writing utensils, and other accessories as vital to a desk’s integrity. I found my Scalamandre zebra print desk chairs and red swivel armchairs at a charming estate antique store in Palm Beach and accented the furniture with Fornasetti ashtrays, a wastepaper basket, and pillows (the brand’s majority of designs essentially match one another). My desk ornaments are a mix-match of gold and Lucite in an attempt complement an antique étagère.
A workspace’s walls and floors inform just as much as the surfaces do. As with my desk’s chair, I could never get enough animal print, so I layered zebra print cow hides atop a leopard carpet in a reckless homage to pattern clashing. I chose a red, white, black and muted mustard wallpaper by Fornasetti (can you tell yet that I have an intense allegiance to the brand?). The wallpaper’s scene unfolds at an opera house, where theatre goers fill boxes and peer at me over balconies. I like to think that the theatre goers keep an eye on me while working so I don’t abandon my writing and move onto online shopping.
I know the style of my personal office may be too distracting and eclectic for most, but I do implore you—that is, if you’re seeking advice on creating an inspiring and homey work environment—to think outside the box! Try sage green instead of beige, black instead of white (which, according to studies is the worst color to paint an office) and mix it up. Let your space energize your wit. Give it a little extra care and thought and you’ll be surprised with how much of a punch it can pack. A final request is to not forget to give your space a little extra holiday decor love—you should feel seasonal and excited while working during the holidays, too.