The Keys to Creating a Beautiful and Functional Workspace

“Considering that we generally spend more waking hours at work than we do at home, it’s only natural to want our office environments to be the best they can be,” says Houston, Texas-based interior designer Marie Flanigan. Recently, we sat down with the design maven to discuss simple yet effective ways to tackle a workspace refresh—whether the area in question is offsite or at home in an alcove. Here, she shares her expert advice for transforming your desk into a beautiful, organized, and inspiring oasis.

Lighten up. Whether or not you work in an area with ample natural light, incorporating task and accent lighting through table and floor lamps is a must, according to Flanigan. “Flipping a switch and illuminating your space will definitely give you an extra energy kick,” she says. If you are fortunate enough to have direct access to sunlight, she suggests orienting your space to fully take advantage of the sunshine and views.

Get organized. “Cleanliness and organization are your two best friends when it comes to a productive work environment,” Flanigan says, adding, “The modern market offers countless ways to keep things nice and tidy.” Many companies offer stylish storage bins and desk accessories that go beyond the expected utilitarian uses, so go ahead and invest in a beautiful pen holder or chic stapler. Flanigan loves using coordinated or matching bins to store fabric and rug samples, and will hang drapery to conceal open shelving she’d prefer to keep out of sight.

Be shelf-aware. Shelving presents an opportunity to introduce both fun and function. From an organization standpoint, you can create a place for everything, utilizing attractive storage equipment and techniques (see above). Shelves can also offer a visual break from the daily grind, so be sure to allot some space for family photographs as well as favorite books, artwork, and objects. And while built-ins are preferable, Flanigan advises that a solidly crafted bookshelf will also do the trick.

Focus on comfort. We do our best work when we’re relaxed and comfortable—feelings associated more with being at home than in a cold, corporate environment. To make your workspace feel cozier, Flanigan’s recommends having a textured rug underfoot. “If you’re feeling stressed, slipping off your heels and taking a stroll on your rug is almost as therapeutic as taking a stroll on the beach,” she says. While you’re at it, consider incorporating throw pillows and a blanket if your seating plan allows.

Embrace color. “Throwing in an exciting dose of color through a fresh coat of paint or a new piece of art can quickly brighten up a space,” Flanigan says. “It instantly makes your office feel lively and inviting.” While a soothing palette can inspire mental clarity and focus, bold hues tend to excite the mind and heighten positive energy, ensuring that your office will be a place of productivity.

Photography by Chloe Crespi. TSG Tip 345 from Marie Flanigan of Marie Flanigan Interiors in Houston, Texas. Marie Flanigan Interiors is featured in The Scout Guide Houston.