Week one of April we figured out how to focus your priorities. Last week we talked about smart budget strategies for your business. This final blog post in the Ready to Work series is a bit of a departure for me (but such a joy to write!) Because it’s all about one of my favorite things…INTERIOR DESIGN!!! But…before I get into all the super fun deets, I want to say that there is absolutely a much more emotionally connected reason for writing and sharing this with you.
I truly believe that creating a space that is uniquely and completely yours is essential to finding motivation, inspiration and a sense of delight in the work you produce. This does not mean you have to have a home office or do all of your work from one particular space (in fact I absolutely recommend changing up your location, and type of environment from time to time…I’ll share a bit later in this post). What I do think is that allowing yourself a sacred space to work from helps you feel grounded, focused and worthy of effort. And a sense of worthiness is absolutely necessary to thriving and experiencing positive growth. Interior design should be about your interior…that deep, warm, soul-stirred place inside.
SO…are you ready?
This is really key right? The first thing you have to consider is what space you have to work with. Now some of you may have the opportunity to dedicate a whole room in your home to work from, and that is such a gift. But, we all have different sized homes, families and budgets. The thing is, it’s less about the space you have, and more about how creative you can be. In fact, even if you only have a corner of your dining room to work with, you can find a way to make it an inspired space, by bringing in special elements that make you feel energized and ready to do your best work.
Start by brainstorming all of the potential spaces in your home:
- Is there a guest room that sits unused for weeks at a time?
- Do you have a closet that primarily functions as an occasionally used storage locker? Can you purge some things from it, or find alternate storage so the space can be converted into a workspace?
- Do you live in a temperate enough location where your outdoor space can be utilized either as-is, or by making some minor modifications?
- Is there space in your basement, garage, dining, living or bedroom where you can carve out a small area to do work?
- And if you don’t…do you have a close friend or family member that would allow you to regularly use (and even set up a few small things) in a less-used part of their home? This might seem crazy, but so often we overlook people in our lives that want to see us succeed, and consider how they might be able to help. Remember that you can always think about ways you can compensate them, or find a mutually favorable trade.
If none of these seem like an option, consider joining a co-working space. Many cities now offer shared work-space environments, where you can take your laptop and other work materials and spend some time each week for a drop-in, or reoccurring membership fee.
Decide what you need the space to be for you. Again, this may mean considering if you are the only one using it, or if you have multiple purposes it needs to serve.
My workspace is in the 2nd bedroom of our home. Because it is the only other dedicated sleeping space in the home, it also serves as an additional bedroom for when we have overnight guests. For comfort’s sake, we brought in a great IKEA daybed. This transforms into a king size bed when we have guests and when it’s folded up; it just looks like a big plush couch. It even has drawers for extra linens or could be utilized for office supplies.
The second purpose of having the guest bed that’s a daybed, is so that there is a good amount of floor space available for meditation, crafting and a morning stretch routine to get my day going!
I also knew that besides books and a filing cabinet, we needed a place to store all of our 30-year-old VHS gems, old journals and photography equipment. I found great baskets and a folding storage bench to house these things. The books are out on display and easily accessible, and the things that are less often used are still there, but camouflaged and out of the way of the more functional items.
Remember when you’re out looking for pieces to bring into your work environment, what it is you’d like from a workspace and also what other roles you need it to play.
Some questions to ask:
- Do you need to have space for physical activity?
- Will this be a multi-purpose area?
- What kind of storage do you need? Can you find ways for your storage to do more than one thing for you? (ie, storage in a bedframe or under-bed boxes, slim storage cases, storage benches, hanging shoe storage for work supplies instead.)
- Do I need wall space for a calendar, whiteboard, cork board, or other functional hanging pieces like floating shelves.
COLOR!! Color is like THE biggie to me (I mean, you see how I roll here on the Arise and Bloom website! I LOVE color.) It can be such a mood influencer, and major source of inspiration.
One of the biggest recommendations I have for you is not to be impulsive…(or do if you thrive in spontaneity, but then just keep in mind things like having to spend money on new paint again when you want to pull your hair out while doing spreadsheets in a chartreuse room).
Of course Pinterest is the go-to place for keeping an mood board (here are some great pinners to check out)…it almost goes without saying…but my very first suggestion is to start taking note of wall colors and coverings and other elements of color you are drawn to when you’re out and about.
What to keep your eyes peeled for:
- What colors speak to you?
- And…more importantly…what do you want it to DO for you? Do you want to feel relaxed, energized, sassy, playful or refined?
- Can you live with print, or would you rather the detail be in the decor you add to the room?
- Don’t assume that bright is the only way to go bold. Sometimes a dark navy or charcoal paint can create a really luxurious mood.
- Buy a few small sample size containers of paint. Sometimes, you may love a color until you get it on your wall and see how the light hits it.
- Remember that your walls are not the only place color can live. Even if you can’t paint, or want to keep your walls white, you can introduce a lot of colorful and stylized elements by what you bring into the space.
Living things. If you know me, you also know I’m huge into metaphors, especially those around change and growth. Nature provides a wealth of comparisons we can draw from about metamorphosis and the process of growing. I really encourage you to regularly check in with yourself about personal insights you’re gaining through work in your own business or project. For this reason, I feel like it’s so valuable to find ways to acknowledge and be reminded of this growth.
When I created my workspace, I decided it was the perfect opportunity for me to try my hand at something I’d experienced disappointment with before: keeping succulents alive! I went to this funky little boutique that had a ton of baby succulent starts and bought myself a selection of four, plus an air plant (because why not right?)
Working on my business consistently and wanting to keep that space in good order has helped me remember to keep a good watering schedule for these babies too! And one year later…they are thriving!!
I highly recommend implementing some greenery, keeping fresh flowers or maybe even getting yourself a colorful beta fish and a pretty glass bowl for her to live in!
Your unique pieces. Once you have a space, an idea of your needs and a color story, comes the fun part, curating the pieces that will give your space personality and character of it’s own.
For me, my office is special because all of the extra feminine elements that I know my fiancé might not appreciate as much, get to live in this space. Since flowers are a major source of inspiration for me, there are a lot of floral elements. I also brought in a lot of bold bright colors, whimsical pieces and things that feel uniquely “me”.
I also recommend keeping things that remind you of your purpose and both your personal and professional mission. For me this means that there is scripture on my walls (and my window…see that last picture!), my coaching certificate, a special salt lamp a former classmate gave me in celebration of starting my business and lots of colorful pictures from my travels. These things remind me why I’m doing this work, where I’m going and the inspiring places I’ve been.
Light. Light is a huge factor when planning out your workspace. It’s great if you have a space with natural light, but don’t forget about when the daylight is gone. Will you need various types of light? A dedicated work lamp, lighting for filming video, light for your art or plants? Also, lighting is another way to bring style into the room. Sean and I crafted my overhead light from an Indonesian fishing basket I found in a salvage store. Remember that even something as functional as light can be a way to infuse personality and style into a space and keep you feeling excited to go to work in it!
The Rules. We rarely connect rules with the word, fun. But in creating a space that feels like you (and one you can actually get some work done in), you need to create some “guidelines” for how you and others treat the space. And there’s no reason you can’t have fun with it. To help you brainstorm rules of your own, here are some rules I came up with for my space…some functional, some fun.
- No shoes. I chose a rug that has a bright, fun pattern and I want to keep it as a nice element in the room for as long as possible. Plus, it’s a reminder of one freedom of working at home: I can go barefoot or work in my fuzzy slippers!
- Good speakers! Music is so essential to getting me going, so I had to make sure I had good quality for grooving while I work!
- Maintaining a stockpile of great smelling candles. I ALWAYS burn a candle while I’m on client calls or blog writing. Plus, the upside is that the room always smells delicious when I walk in.
- Keep my calendar(s) always up to date and my monthly goals outlined on my white board at the beginning of each month.
- Keep my “piles” to a minimum. This one is tough…I’m a paper-piler! But I do my best to only have one (short) unfiled stack of paperwork in the room. I keep the space clean, uncluttered and feeling new so I don’t feel overwhelmed before I even begin working.
Break (some) Rules!!
So now you have the space, you have the elements and the purpose and alllll the good stuff….even the rules, right? Time to break some rules…specifically about where and how you do all that important work. Want some fresh ideas?
- Occasionally think about ways that you can mix it up. If you are a coffee shop kinda gal, maybe it’s time to venture away from the local Starbucks and seek out some funky and new-to-you local coffee houses.
- If the outdoors energizes you, then pack yourself a picnic for one (shoot, even a bud vase and some flowers…get fancy girl!) and take your notebook or Mac on a date.
- Think outside the box with where you let your work take you. Maybe it’s time you ventured to the botanical garden, the art museum, or park near the airport and watch the planes take off while you work.
- Make it an extra special treat and book yourself an AirBnB or hotel room for a solo retreat night or weekend. Bring all of your work materials, but also some pampering extras like new downloaded music, a facial mask, and a bath bomb so you can pamper yourself when you need to take a work break.
- Give yourself a “free-play” work day once in a while. Remember when you were a kid and your teacher gave the class some free play time? Well if not, it just means…although having an agenda and some form of a “to-do” list is important, sometimes you have to loosen the reins. So at least once in a while give yourself permission to work on just the fun stuff, spend time playing with all the more “frivolous” things like spending time checking out new fonts, hanging out with your business buds on social media, and don’t get mad at yourself for not getting any “real” work done. Your business won’t die and you might be a more pleasant person to work with.
You…are the Muse.
Basically, there’s one important underlying theme. Your work should ultimately be about YOU. To do your best work for others, you have to truly take care of yourself. That begins by creating an environment that feels good, and reminds you why you’re doing this work in the first place.
So even if you have just a small space, buy yourself good quality pens and a great dayplanner, splurge on a fancy laptop bag with ALL the pockets, buy a pretty travel mug for your chai tea refills or find a special corner of the world that inspires your creativity.
Make your workspace a lovely environment inspired by your unique personality and most importantly, have SO much fun bringing it to life!