Leigh was a single mother with a stressful job and two young children. After attending Making a Living Without a Job, she knew that self-employment was the answer for her. She quit her job,  purchased a vending machine route and tripled its sales within two months. Once that was in order, she started her next profit center, buying and renovating houses. Not only did she find that she was spending more time with her kids, she also got them involved in her business as much as possible.

One day Leigh and her children went to visit a friend who had moved into a large new house. The friend took them on a room-by-room tour of the house proudly showing off her new home. When the tour ended, Leigh’s 5-year-old daughter looked at her  quizzically and said, “Mom, where’s the office?”

Leigh’s daughter is not the only one who assumes that a home should have an office. Glossy  magazines now feature layouts of slick home offices. Builders of upscale homes are including an office in their plans. Trendspotters tell us that this work-at-home lifestyle is not a passing fad.

Whether your work space is a studio, a rented office or a card table set up in a corner of your bedroom, efficiency is only one of the requirements. Your working space needs to be inviting, a place where you function easily surrounded by  things you love and find inspiring.

My friend Karyn laughs about her first home office that was a mirror image of the corporate workspace she had abandoned. No wonder she had a hard time going there and getting her business launched. Today her office reflects her witty personality—including the life-sized Elvis Presley cutout that guards the entrance.

It’s obvious that most of us do not duplicate the corporate cubicle look when we set out to design our personal working space. Gray and gloomy may be an appropriate backdrop for corporate workers, but home workers like to spice things up a bit. Color, personal objects, music, incense, fountains, and toys are apt to be part of the new entrepreneur’s decorating style. (If you’d like to add a really special touch to your office, checkout the decorative possibilities at www.wallwords.com.)

Chances are you’re reading this on your office computer. So take a look around. Does your office reflect your power and vision, or does it resemble a junk room with a desk? Are there objects, pictures and words that lift your soul? Is it easy to find things or do you waste precious time going through piles of papers? 

As Steven Pressfield points out, a professional seeks order. “He eliminates chaos from his world in order to banish it from his mind. He wants the carpet vacuumed and the threshold swept, so the Muse may enter and not soil her gown.”

Does entering your office make you smile? It should, you know. This is your laboratory, your creation center, your idea place. So listen to Vivaldi, light some incense, get a fountain, paint the walls terra cotta, hang a poster from your favorite movie, or decorate with whatever brings you joy. It’s a one-of-a-kind creation and you’re the beneficiary. Make it both beautiful and useful.

11 Responses to “An Office That Inspires”

  1. Barbara Saunders

    My father used to get upset that we children did not do our homework in straight-backed chairs, in silence, free from distractions. I sometimes took it to the extreme of writing music with other music playing in the background. When it came to his work space, though, he read and wrote … in bed! with the baseball game on the radio.

  2. Traci

    I’m just beginning to actually “work” at home as an artist. It’s all very new to me and I’m experimenting, making mistakes and embracing the process. Since we live in a small condo, I don’t have a lot of room but I recently re-organized my things and have moved into the dining room. My favorite bookcase is in my work area with the books that I love and many of the trinkets and collectibles that I cherish. It’s always uplifting to look at my bookcase when I need a little inspiration, so the dining room is the perfect place to make art.

    At my old office, for my very serious job, I used to have magnetic words on the file cabinets, a purple Slinky on my desk and fun pens to grab whenever I needed some whimsy. The Deans at the University thought it was a little strange but they had a smile on their face whenever they stopped by.

  3. Steve

    I just took a good look at my surroundings. My home office corner is downstairs in the basement, and is both like and unlike corporate cubicles I have inhabited. A John Fielder Colorado calendar hangs on the wall to my right. The banker’s lamp next to my laptop gives off a nice yellow light. The Klipsch speakers play a mellow compilation from Pandora. I can swivel from my computer cart to the nearby round table, where I leave a dictionary open just because I like the way it looks.

    Things to do: Find the dictionary stand, add another desk lamp, find something beautiful to put on the table

  4. Barbara Winter

    Thanks, everybody, for the comments. Steve, I’d love to know what beautiful object you find for your desk. One of the favorite things in my office is a framed Arts & Crafts poster with this quote from John Ruskin: “We are not sent into this world to do anything into which we cannot put our hearts.” I glance at it several times a day to make sure I’m staying on track.

  5. Rasheed Hooda

    This post couldn’t have come at a more timely moment.

    I was just thinking of removing everything from my desk and start clean, but now I know what I want to do. Just this morning I took a picture of my work desk as a proof for one those “before and after” shots. so in a couple of days or so, I’ll have a blog post talking about this transformation. Thanks to your article here, the transformation will reflect some cool inner beauty reflected in outer beauty.

    You are too cool!


  6. Barbara Winter

    Love that idea, Rasheed. I think we should all be doing Before & After photos of our life as we make changes. It’s a visual progress report.

  7. Steve

    Clearing off my worktable, I uncovered two beautiful coffee table books, which I now can actually see again and appreciate:

    (1) Ireland: The Emerald Island (Peter Skinner)–I’m planning a fall trip around the SW corner of the island. Think green.

    (2) The Illuminated Rumi (Colemans Barks/Michael Green)–One of the producers of a Rumi documentary was doing a promotional tour, so after the screening I picked up this lovely book. “Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion or cultural system. I am not from the East or the West….”

  8. Barbara Winter

    Thank you, Steve, for reminding me of The Iluminated Rumi. I haven’t looked at my copy in ages, either, but plan to do so again this afternoon.

  9. LynnH

    I love my life. I love my business. I love this small, colorful house and my beloved husband who bought it before he knew me. I even like the desk we bought for me when I went 100% self-employed over 10 years ago. I can’t see it, though.

    Right now I’m working with the laptop on my lap (love that) on the couch. I can see the pile of papers that is on top of my desk, from here.

    Two days ago I decided to find 5 things a day to let go of. I can toss, give, donate. Yesterday and the day before, I found 7 clothing items to part with (excess clothing is maybe a worse problem in my house than papers).

    I was thinking about MLK day, and how I’d like to be my best self at least more than I am now. And the thought of cleaning the space I live in, made sense. When I have order in my eyesight, in my personal space, I think my brain works better and I can stand taller in many ways.

    I’m an artist, musician, dancer. Once I was a computer programmer with a creative house. Now I am a little too far from the order I need, much more on the right brain. But then, I can make a right-brained office that works. Off to walk and then make that desk happier-looking.

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  1. Office Nesting

    […] One thing that is helping me get my spark back is that I am ‘office nesting‘. I am re-creating my work from home nest, my own little sanctuary where I create, breath and play. I was inspired to take a look around my home office by Barbara Winter’s post “An Office That Inspires”. […]