Power Up Your Home Office
The author of Be Your Own Decorator offers tips to make your home office look great, and work even better.
Photograph by Lucas Allen
A luxurious, lavender office designed by Katie Ridder
Whether or not you have a business that you direct from home, a place to pay bills and do other household paperwork is indispensable. And, even though any horizontal writing surface may be sufficient, making your home office an attractive place to work will make it more functional as well.
So says Susanna Salk, author of a number of good books about home decorating and a frequent guest on the Today show, whose latest volume is currently flying off retail shelves everywhere. Be Your Own Decorator is a coffee table tome with a difference. Using images of beautiful rooms from the portfolios of more than seventy-five of the world’s most acclaimed designers, Salk analyzes the elements of successful decorating. Each room in the book displays a strong example of one or more of these key components: color, mix, arrangement, balance, whimsy, accessorizing and rule-breaking. Between two covers, this delightful guide has provided the DIY decorator with a broad and deep helping of expert guidance.
Recently, Salk’s talent for deconstructing the mysteries of highly effective decorating was on display at the C. Wonder store at The Westchester. Using objects from the shop’s bright and well-curated selection of accessories, she created a desk-scape for the home office that has style and substance.
Says Salk, “A beautiful desktop should never look corporate.” In crafting a workspace, she underscores the importance of accessorizing. She describes the method behind her arrangement, as well as her objective.
“Everything should feel special, and personal,” says the author, “You should feel pleasure when you sit down to work.”
Here are some of Susanna’s tips:
- Start with a large, good-looking tray, to hold all of your desk tools, then sort them into different containers.
- Use covered boxes for your utilitarian objects—staples, erasers, stamps, and all the small things that go astray.
- Instead of a leather pencil cup, try putting your writing tools in an attractive glass.
- Pull together your photographs with coordinating frames.
“You don’t need everything to match, but you can create harmony with unity of color and material. For the desk arrangement at C. Wonder, I used touches of gold: an embossed metallic notebook, and pretty paper clips. To brighten the arrangement, I used the 2012 color of the year—Tangerine Tango—for the inbox and the stapler. She adds, “These coordinate with my favorite parrot tulips. Fresh flowers on your desk will always make you feel happy.”
Salk also encourages a lack of constraints about desk shapes.
“I have a large master suite in my home, and I use one end of it for my office. Instead of a rectangular desk, I use a circular white dining table. It works for me and looks beautiful in the space.”
Here are a couple of my favorite home workspaces from Be Your Own Decorator.
First, a tiny office full of color and whimsy from Jonathan Adler (one of his wonderful design shops is right on the Avenue in Greenwich):
Photograph by Pieter Estersohn
“Her” workspace, carved out of a corner of the master bedroom, designed by Robert Passal:
Photograph by Joshua McHugh
It’s enough to make me stop right here, and rearrange my office. See below for links to the book, designers, and Susanna’s website (and wonderful blog).