Seven Tips to Elevate your Home Office

Everyone needs a space to work at home -- whether it’s to pay bills, do your job or have the kids complete their school assignments. Of course, laptops enable us to work anywhere, even at the kitchen table. But if you have the space, whether it’s a nook or a whole room, carving out a home office can help with focus and organization, fostering creativity and inspiration.

In my own home, I redesigned a small spare room for this purpose. For those who have an extra bedroom that is reserved for guests, consider using a pull-out sofa instead of a bed; this approach will make the room feel more purposeful as an office.


I’d like to give you a quick tour of the space, offering some tips along the way.

1. Design around the desk. This should be the foundation for the look of the room. It should be a piece of furniture that elevates your work, and is comfortable to sit at. My desk is a beautiful leather-topped campaign-style desk with brass accents that my parents bought in the early ‘70s and passed down to me. Lucky me! I love recommending vintage desks to my clients. I find fabulous ones at local antique shops, estate sales, on Chairish, Etsy or 1stdibs. Check out this recent fabulous mid-century L-shaped desk I found on Chairish for a client.


And this gorgeous desk made in Italy by Opera Contemporary through Casa Design Boston that looks stunning in this home office I designed:


2. Make sure your desk chair is the right height. Measure before you buy it or move it from elsewhere in the house. It needs to be comfortable and suit the style of the desk. I paired my desk with an old friend, a bamboo chair my parents also gave me when I got my first apartment. I have painted it a new color with every move since. It has been orange, blue, red and now emerald green to go with my black, gold and emerald color scheme of my office.

3. Spark joy. My design philosophy is that a room has to go beyond function and reflect something that makes you happy. For my office, I chose the Cities Toile wallpaper by Hygee and West. I love the pattern because my husband and I enjoy spending lazy Sundays in the room planning trips. I went bold and chose the black and gold colorway of the paper to match the desk. I am glad I did because when sun glints off metal paper it inspires me to keep working hard so I can get to the next place, on the map, or in life.

4. Have a spot to settle in. The next big item in my office is the lounge chair, which can encourage any antsy worker to find a new position and stay awhile. I chose the iconic Herman Miller Eames Lounge Chair to have a special spot to think, read, relax and sometimes even take a quick nap. My kids come in and will sit there and read a book while I work and sometimes it is the other way round.

Below is a lovely reading spot I created for a Cambridge client with Cole and Son’s Macchine Volanti wallaper and a vintage chair reupholstered in Romo Black Edition’s Mitanni Storm

5. Consider lighting carefully. In my office, I carried the mid-century theme through to the lighting, choosing the Nelson saucer lamp for overhead. In fact, this light would work perfectly in almost any room with almost any decor. What’s more, its affordable. That’s why I have two others in the adjacent rooms on the same floor in different shapes. As awesome as the Nelson is, overhead lighting is not enough in an office; you still need task lighting. On my desk I chose Gubi’s Grasshopper table lamp. It’s simple, functional, adorable and it comes in a range of great colors.

6. Next, find the right light bulbs. I know it is not the environmentally friendly thing to do but for task lighting I prefer incandescent bulbs for its perfect warm light color. The lounge chair required task lighting, as well, for reading. Here I used one of my favorite lighting companies, Allied Maker’s Clasp Wall Sconce.

7. Accessorize. The final step is to accessorize the room to pull it all together. Find a cozy rug that is comfortable on your bare feet and absorbs sound, like my Beni Ourain Moroccan rug I found at Brimfield from the wonderful Heja Home, which has the best rug tent at Brimfield.

(The Heja Home tent at Brimfield)

(The Heja Home tent at Brimfield)

Plants and art add warmth and personalization. For me, these boost my creativity. This Haitian painting I found sitting in the dust at Brimfield was a perfect fit, too, after the framer at Jameson and Thompson in Jamaica Plain fixed it. I just love the painting is a constant reminder of a far away place I will get to one day.

As a creative person I love not just the look of plants but the fact that they add oxygen to the room. Perhaps motivation and inspiration are the most important accessories after all.