Like many of us, this reader turned her guest bedroom into a home office. However, it still doesn’t feel productive and energizing. Does this sound familiar? Here are some tips to help you decorate a home office you’ll actually want to work in.
We moved into a new house shortly before the pandemic and planned to use this little den as a guest bedroom. But then my job turned into a work-from-home situation and I started to turn this room into a study. I bought the vintage bookshelves to fill the back wall and moved my desk in here.
Unfortunately, some of the things I got for the guest bedroom are just feeling too relaxing for an office. When it was supposed to be a bedroom, I had planned to paint the walls a dusty pink to match the rug. I had no extra seating for this room so borrowed the white patio chair from outside for now. The white cotton curtains now also feel too relaxed for an office. A more minor issue was I thought the bottom left corner of the rug appeared to be mustard yellow online when i ordered it but when it arrived, is definitely more of a green beige (and not matching the yellow in the curtains), so that’s also bothering me.
My question for you is: what can I do to wake up this room so I can feel more productive and energized?? I am definitely keeping the rug because it was a big part of the budget for decorating the room. Should I paint the room a brighter green or pink? Change the curtains? Get rid of the rattan? Or something else?? I live in Maryland and while this room has a South and a North window and can be bright, it’s often cloudy and dreary here and i’ve stayed away from white walls in the house.
If you have any tips for me please let me know. Thank you for writing your blog, I’ve learned so much about decorating over the years of reading it. Jean
Here’s the corner of the rug that was supposed to be more ochre
Help Me Decorate My Home Office
Many of us have been forced to work from home this year, and creating a functional office space was suddenly catapulted to the top of our to do lists. Most of us don’t have a blank canvas empty room to work with, so as Jean did, we improvise.
And that typically means working with things that aren’t perfectly suited to the situation. But if you work full time (or even part time) from home, chances are you will spend a lot of time in your home office (or closet or corner as it may be). It’s worth spending a bit of time and money to make it not only functional, but also a beautiful space you enjoy.
The word that stood out for me in Jean’s note was ‘energized’. Even more than ‘productive’ a space that allows us to be energized is fundamental.
I believe that a beautifully decorated space is not a distant luxury, but a necessity for a good life and a positive and productive state of mind.
There are many things that can really sap your energy in a room. And I don’t think it comes down to mere ergonomics, though that is important too.
But back to things that can quickly zap your energy in room from a decorating perspective.
First, your home office should feel like it was put together with care and love. The person using the space will mirror that mood inevitably. Who wants to work in a room full of messy storage tubs and clutter? It should be organized so you can focus on the task at hand without the nagging feeling that you really should deal with the mess.
Office spaces tend to have the spare room syndrome. They are too often are treated as afterthoughts, or worse, the catch all of rooms. They are not the master suite or the great room. They don’t get the budget or the care.
So kudos to you Jean for clearly hurdling this issue and creating a workspace for yourself that already looks loved and considered! It is really close to being perfect. But when it is still bothering you, it’s not finished yet. And that feeling will continue to nag at you.
Which brings me to another related issue. I know you already know this, but I do agree that your rug is holding the room back a little.
The shape isn’t ideal for being off centre with the shelving unit. The pattern feels too contemporary for the vintage boho vibe that is coming together beautifully in your office. The curtains are perfect with the floor lamp and the vintage shelving unit. Very charming.
I know area rugs can be expensive. All day and night I help clients with a dated area rug that they “have to work with” because it’s an heirloom, or it cost SO MUCH.
But if it’s the piece that is bossing your room around, and throwing off the harmony, it’s just not worth it. My advice is to sell it, gift it, shift it to a different room where you can decorate around it.
The problem with going out of your way to work with an element that just isn’t right is you will end up going in circles, tweaking everything around it (and spending lots of time, money and energy doing it) and STILL not be happy.
That is also draining your energy and productivity.
If you’ve ever decorated a room, but couldn’t put your finger on what is still missing, area rugs are often the culprit. Choosing the right area rug for a room is REALLY HARD. Even for decorators. It’s why so many people (including designers) often choose a natural fibre, seagrass or jute rug. And THAT is even easier to do right now with the current trending look of black, white, cognac, yellow, and natural fibre/basket weave colours.
Here’s another tip for buying an area rug online. Always order the smallest size in the rug you are considering (say, in a 2×3′ size) to make sure the colour, pattern, and texture really does work with the rest of your furnishings before committing to order the larger size you need for your room.
Or, at least make sure the supplier has a flexible return policy.
And if it’s not perfect, return it (or maybe find another room for it).
I know they are heavy, and awkward and expensive to ship. But time and time again, it’s a much less than ideal area rug that holds a room hostage.
Jean sent me the rug as she found it online and they only show one image. Like this (below). Here with the image from the site, it does look correct. They don’t show it installed in a room (which often looks a lot different). This can make it even harder to choose the right rug for your space.
I know it’s tempting to order a rug in the size you want AFTER you’ve finally made a decision, gone round and round, waffled for weeks maybe months, or even years, you just want that rug in the room RIGHT NOW.
But if the retailer only shows one image of the rug, it may be best to order the smallest size first to make sure it’s the right colour.
If you’re impatient (like me) I would only order it in the right size IF they show it installed in a room, in addition to the flat image (like the one below). And bonus, if the site has reviews. Reading the reviews will also help you get the colour right because people talk about it.
I recently ordered this leopard rug from Wayfair. Notice how different the images are.
Creative Director and Founder of Understanding Undertones® and the Killam Colour SystemTM. Decorator, author, speaker and internationally sought after Colour Expert. See Colour DifferentlyTM with Maria Killam.