As luck and good fortune would have it, when it came time for Kursty Groves to create and decorate her home office, she was able to crib lessons from some of the most well-known corporate spaces across the globe. Groves, a designer, innovation consultant, and author of I Wish I Worked There!: A Look Inside the Most Creative Spaces in Business, saw firsthand what worked -- and didn't -- from companies like Google, Dreamworks, Lego, Sony, and Hasbro.
In Kursty's case, she converted extra kitchen space at her home's far end into a work studio and outfitted it with colorful touches -- vintage apple crates as filing shelves, baked bean cans as pen storage. Like corporate spaces, it's a dedicated work area. But unlike formal offices, Kursty -- who blogs at iwishiworkedthere.com -- softened the line between live and work with a middle-ground, self-described "airlock." It is casual, with books, a sofa, and a garden view -- a blurred boundary so many people need and want in a home office. Here's what she found on her journey and how you can use that wisdom in your own home office decorating project.
Office decorating tip #1: You don't have to spend a lot. "Often the most inspiring places actually cost very little to achieve, and the best examples include spaces that people helped create themselves," Kursty says. That certainly goes for tech star Google -- offices are sometimes filled with items from ebay or flea market furniture finds. "At T-Mobile, a competition was held between teams to create inspiring bathrooms based on themes that related to inspiration and invention, and the teams were given a really low budget to achieve this," she says.
Office decorating tip #2: Make space. Many homeowners just skip setting up and decorating a home office and instead set up shop on a kitchen table. The problem is that the work of the home office -- bill paying, budgeting, paperwork -- ends up competing with the necessary work of maintaining a home -- laundry and cooking, to name two. "Creating a space that is dedicated to your work will allow you to focus," Kursty says. "Creating easy-to-access storage and shelving to keep your stationery, books, and filing will boost productivity so you're not hunting around the house for a paper clip."
Office decorating tip #3: Include what inspires you. "The more you can put your stamp on the space, the more inspiring it will be for you," Kursty says. "Think about places and things that make you feel happy and relaxed." Do you love photos, flowers, and knickknacks? Then by all means, add them when decorating your home office. Are clean and fuss-free more your style? Then pick a mix of products to reflect that. Do you love the beach? Add a bottle of sand, some shells, and beachy colors. Don't have windows? Try plants to put you in a creative mood.
Office decorating tip #4: Carve out space for activities. Should you include a treadmill in your office? Probably not. But as Kursty discovered, the best thinking doesn't always happen at desks in offices. For example, if you have lots of home-focused reading to do, include an armchair in your office decorating plans. In addition, creating a physical separation in your home office -- a screen, a decorated home office door, or a home office on another floor -- may help you organize your thoughts and be more productive.
Office decorating tip #5: Decorate a home office with items that are both beautiful and essential. Painted file cabinets, colorful walls, cool corkboards, personalized storage with interesting labels: All these dressed-up office decorating essentials lend themselves to a productive, beautiful space that you can treat just like the other rooms in your home. "Keep current work and things you need to access daily close to hand, and anything that either needs accessing less or is boring out of sight," Kursty says. Even if your home office shares space, try a decorating tip personalizing clever storage -- closet doors that open out to define the space, and with all your essentials stored on the inside of the doors, Kursty says. "Keep the color and decor neutral, but add personality and inspiration through artifacts. Find fun ways of hiding the things that don't inspire you and displaying those that do."