Let’s face it: Getting in a productive flow doesn’t always come easy. It's normal to feel unfocused sometimes at work, but the good news is that our workspace has an influence on productivity within our control. While the wrong space can be distracting, the right atmosphere can stir our senses, motivate us, and help us stay efficient and focused.
Investing in thoughtful design and layouts for your office can greatly improve your mood. After all, if you're spending 40 hours per week in a space, shouldn't you enjoy it? You can blend professionalism with your personal favorites, and create surroundings that encourage you to focus (rather than feel distracted). We learned work office décor ideas from some of our favorite office designers to find the balance.
Read on to discover office décor ideas for work to make your space as beautiful as it is functional.
Start With Ergonomics
Before getting into the specifics of your office décor, you’ll want to start by laying out a functioning workspace. "Start with great working ergonomics," Alison Davin of Jute Home suggests, noting to take different working styles and office requirements into account. "Some people like to stand while working, and using a counter-height desk allows for that,” she says. “Others like to spread out and have lots of room to keep piles of things close at bay. Someone else might prefer an L-shaped desk so they can move between two workstations or have two screens up at once."
Opt for Large Surfaces
Similar to taking each individual's needs into account, consider incorporating large surfaces that can be multi-functional. Create different workstations that suit your staff’s personality and day-to-day logistical needs. Sometimes simple observation will be all you need, or you can try interviewing your staff about what a perfect environment means to them. The same goes for designing your own personal office: What type of space suits your work style best?
Declutter Your Space
“Good office feng shui starts with decluttering," Davin says. We may live in the digital age where it's easy to acquire more file storage on our cloud accounts, but real-world clutter isn't so simple. While it's inevitable, you'll do yourself (and your productivity) a favor by creating a clean space that inspires you to start the workday. Carve out space for digital storage devices and the working basics (pens, pencils, printing paper, notepads, dry-erase boards, easels, or important files).
Incorporate Living Plants
A foolproof way to make an office feel inviting is to style it with plenty of living plants. Plants bring the outdoors in, invite a natural coziness to a space, and even clean the air. Oversized species can make a statement in your design, or small desk plants for each team member can create a cohesive look across the office.
Since many different people work in offices together, opt for air-cleaning species that freshen the space by fighting bacteria and other toxins.
Design Communal Areas
When it comes to creating a functional workplace, it's also important to make sure you design spaces for people to gather. Creating communal areas encourages your team to spend time bouncing ideas off one another, getting to know their coworkers, and socializing about projects. Opt for an extended table with plenty of seating, and give it a stylish flair to make those lunches and long meetings more inviting.
Focus on Comfort
We know that sitting all day isn't great for our bodies, and especially so if we’re in an uncomfortable chair that invites us to slouch and shift. Invest in a legitimate office chair that encourages good posture, and keep the design top of mind when choosing your chair. It can pop out behind a plain wood desk, or even serve as the focal point of your office: “Good-looking is important; we love something with leather,” says BHDM Design principal Dan Mazzarini, who recommends the Eames Executive Chair from DWR in tobacco leather.
Customize Your Storage
Similar to having a functional workspace, making space for storage is important to keep your team organized. “Customize storage to suit your needs,” says Davin. “Figure out what you need easy access to, and make your storage work for you so that everything has a home.” She suggests creating custom storage for just about every need—from files to yarn to books—so everything has a place.
Use Repurposed Furniture
According to Davin, a clever office designer's trick is to repurpose pieces you already own for storage. For example, turn a dresser into a filing cabinet, add bins and baskets to fill empty shelves, or use old dining chairs to serve as seating for guests. Create built-in closets with plenty of shelving to keep clutter out of sight and organized. Here, function and design intersect as a sense of home and personal style meet inside a warm wood desk.
Make Space for Meals
If there's any part of the workday that tends to be a unanimous favorite, it's lunch. Make space in your office to comfortably sit back and enjoy a meal with your coworkers: Not only does it help you feel relaxed after taking a break, but it also invites interesting conversation and creative ideas for projects when teammates gather.
Make It Feel Cozy
When it comes to making your office homier, Mazzarini has one obvious answer. “A rug!” he says. “A rug that grounds the room—and warms it up—takes it from workplace to residential.” Your rug can come in many shapes, sizes, and designs that connect your office space design. Some office décor stylists like celebrity interior designer Cathy Hobbs have their personal favorites: “Shag rugs," she says. "Think soft and fluffy, solid-colored and sleek. Shag rugs come in various thicknesses and shapes, and can help anchor and define a space.”
Energize Your Lighting
Bad lighting is a catalyst for feeling sleepy and drained. Traditional fluorescent office lights feel more stale than inviting, so incorporate new lights for a boost of energy. Pepper your office with lamps (big or small, standing or table) for a nice sense of relaxation and comfort. "Table lamps instead of task lighting are a great way to make a desk feel warm,” says Mazzarini. Plus, a beautiful table lamp can be the perfect statement piece on a simple desk.
Take a Break in Style
While actually working is the most important part of work, it's also essential to take time for breaks. Relax and recharge for a few minutes every hour or two to keep your mind focused and sharp. By designing a dedicated place for breaks, you'll be able to pop over quickly when you're feeling tired, then return to your projects feeling refreshed.
Use Timeless Pieces
Midcentury modern design naturally lends itself to a blend of simple angular professional design with the traditional comforts of home. “The beauty of midcentury modern design is the pieces are timeless. They can be staples that won’t go out of style, so you don’t have to worry about updating your office furniture,” says Hobbs. Incorporate the look in your own space with walnut and hardwood furniture paired with tufted side chairs. “Butterscotch, olive, white, and black are leather colors often found on midcentury furniture pieces,” she notes.
Incorporate Items You Love
Since you spend so much time at the office, it's helpful to be around items that make you feel relaxed. “Personalizing your space helps you stay inspired and get through the day,” says Davin. “Set out your favorite flowers, objects, and hang artwork. When you like the pieces around you, it improves your mood and productivity.” Add photographs from your favorite vacations, adorn the room with greenery, or incorporate candles for soothing scents.
Organize the Essentials
If your daily routine requires heavy reading, display your books in an organized fashion for easy access. Bookshelves add a professional feeling to any room—and a flair of style when designed properly. If books aren't part of your schedule, use your bookshelves to organize necessary items to pull out as needed.
Organizing books by title or author may seem most functional, but in a workplace, it can actually be more efficient to arrange your collection in sections by topic.
Save Room for Projects
A communal workspace also means communal projects, so style a dedicated area for teammates to gather when it's time to work together. Large, tall desks, oversized tables, and even standing areas with dry-erase boards are great options. Make the space feel comfortable and inviting to help encourage collaboration.
Style With Unique Décor
Giving your office a unique flair of personality can make it feel more dynamic and playful. Opt for affordable art pieces to illuminate your space, or style a few mirrors to bounce light around the room. “Small mirrors placed in a series or grouping can be a creative and attractive display,” says Hobbs. Mirrors, wallpaper, and pieces of wall art can complete each room when the walls are feeling bare.
Keep It Classic in White
“Black and white are often forgotten colors,” says Hobbs. “If you’re looking for a modern and minimal look, consider black-and-white or even all-white artwork.” This timeless, classic color scheme is always trendy. Work with contrasting colors, or opt for a uniform vibe by styling the space in bright whites. “Black-and-white photography feels great,” says Mazzarini. If you opt for a gallery wall, Manzannari suggests trying a collection of layered art with the same colored frames.
Style Calendars Front and Center
Since an organized workplace is a happy workplace, start with the most simple necessity of all. Style your calendar front and center, and opt for an oversized version in a playful print to stay on-track. Add color-coded sticky notes to remember important events, or keep it looking sleek with a black-and-white design.
Ground Empty Walls
Use the diptych and triptych methods to style your artwork divided into sections. This clever design go-to makes separate pieces of art feel hinged together visually as one overall design. “This is a common design trick of interior designers to create the illusion of art in a series,” Hobbs says. If gallery walls aren't your style, this design approach is a great way to ground empty walls with one eye-catching focal point.