five things | decorating a home office

by | Aug 5, 2020 | All Things Home, Decorating, My House, Office, Tips and Tricks | 18 comments

I did Let’s Go with Layla (of the Lettered Cottage) today on Instagram Stories and thought I would share my tips and ideas for decorating a home office here on the blog as well!  Aaaaand, I decided “five things” would be a good series to post on the blog now and then…  just five little tips, tricks, ideas, thoughts, etc. in a neatly packaged post.  I know there is so much information spread over 3,000+ blog posts, so it’s nice to consolidate some of those ideas in a short & sweet post.

So, here we go – five tips when decorating a home office…


sometimes new is better than vintage/antique

As a lover of antiques and all things old, worn, and patinaed, it’s really hard for me to say it, but sometimes you need a new desk or a new chair for a home office to be functional and comfortable.  I use an old teacher’s desk in my studio and it works well for writing, podcast recording, but it didn’t work well for my computer, larger monitor, and all of the office supplies and filing options I wanted for my office.

decorating a home studio office miss mustard seed

So, for my office desk, I have a new L-shaped desk that can accommodate my laptop, large monitor, paperwork, office supplies, and gives me plenty of work surface.  You can read more about my desk in THIS POST.

decorating a home studio office miss mustard seed


display pretty things in the open

While a lot of office supplies aren’t the prettiest to look at, there are some really lovely supplies that can be stored in plain sight.  Papers, twine, envelopes, masking tape, rubber bands, binders, folders, etc. can all be selected within a color palette that works with your decor and can then be displayed instead of hidden away in drawers.

decorating a home studio office miss mustard seed

Shopping with this mindset accomplishes a few things.  1. ) It frees up closed storage for the unsightly things.  2. ) It forces you to put more thought into your purchases, so everything you buy and bring into your workspace is intentional.  3.) It makes mundane work tasks more enjoyable when your supplies are pretty!



surround yourself with things that inspire/motivate you

I think this is so important for a work/creative space!  Every decorating decision should contribute to creating a space that’s conducive to doing your best work.  This means that you’re not confronted with piles of bills, unfinished projects, and things that remind you of shortcomings when you enter your space.  You see things that encourage and inspire you and foster new ideas.  You have reminders of successes and past victories, hardships that have been overcome and lessons learned.  The simple decision to have those things around you can be just the push you need when you feel stuck or defeated.  You’ve done great things before.  You can do them again.

decorating a home studio office miss mustard seed

decorating a home studio office miss mustard seed



magnetic whiteboards are more versatile than cork boards

I am totally sold on using magnetic whiteboards in an office instead of a corkboard.  Pushpins can sometimes be stubborn to push in and switch around, the board can get chewed up over time, and I’ve never been a lover of the color of natural cork.  Small, strong magnets are easy to move around and can hold heavy fabrics and papers, even a crocheted swatch and a dried fern.  They can easily be moved and shuffled around.  the white background also gives a clean surface to clearly see swatch colors and sample patterns.  And, when I spot is clear, I can use it to write notes that can easily be erased.

THESE are my favorite magnets to use.  I got my whiteboard from Hobby Lobby and then applied gold leaf to the frame to dress it up.  You can find a tutorial on applying gold leaf HERE.

decorating a home studio office miss mustard seed


arrange books by subject, size, and color

I know arranging books by color is a controversial way to organize and I wouldn’t suggest it in a book store or library, but it works in a home setting and makes the jumble of colors and sizes more pleasing to the eye.  I don’t organize my books strictly by color, but first sort them by subject.  My painting, drawing, and art resource books are in my studio.  My design, interiors, and business books are here in my home office.  With the books sorted into those larger categories, I can then sort them by size.  This is necessary, so the books fit on the shelf either vertically or horizontally.

Once they are sorted by subject and size, then I sort them by color.  I used to have all of the blue books together, all of the green, etc., but I have more recently sorted the books into small categories…light blue, bluish-green, warm greens vs. cool greens.  I’ll then spread these smaller groups around the shelf so the color is more evenly distributed.

If this method doesn’t work for you, don’t do it!  The entire point of making customizations when decorating a home office is so that it works for you!  This works for me.  I can find what I need and it’s inspiring to look at.  It’s an entire buffet of inspiration – words, ideas, pictures, beauty, that I can access anytime.

decorating a home studio office miss mustard seed

Those are a few ideas I implement when decorating a home office.  What are things you like to have in your workspace?  Do you need things tidy or do you like a mess as a part of your method?




  1. Lisa P

    These are great tips for making a workspace organized, pretty and inspiring! I’m going to try the whiteboard/‘magnet idea—

    • Christie

      Me too! Love that tip!!

  2. Gilda

    good post,full of good advice

  3. Loretta

    I personally need a bit of a mess. Too tidy and I can’t work for fear of sabotage. But that’s rarely a problem.
    I’m working on my bookshelf. Decided purging was step 1.

  4. Mary Anne Berry

    Corralling items on a tray on my desk helps me keep more organized. (At least the mess looks more intentional!) Papers and samples are my nemesis. I try to put as much on the computer as possible, but I’m definitely a tactile person!

    • Cherie Bautista

      I love having all my pretty objects in front of me. They make me smile throughout the day

  5. Terry

    Tidy, tidy, tidy, only what I am working on at that moment. Thank you so much for the white board idea. I have been a cork board person (I actually like the color) but the magnet white board has “changed” my life. So easy to move around. I also just want to commend you how you always say “this is what works for me” rather being
    a declaration on what we should do. You are the best!

  6. MaryLisa

    I just got a second sewing machine so I’m in search of a good surface so I can have both machines at my finger tips. I can’t tell you how excited and grateful I am to have them.

  7. Tessa

    What is the writing about however you earn a living is the business of heaven? Where can I find it? It touched me.

    • Marian Parsons

      It touched me, too, and I read it almost every day. It’s from the Abundant Life Daybook and I think it’s an entry from November.

  8. Kate

    I tend to work all over the house with my laptop. When it’s a nice day, I’m on the front porch. I won’t have space for a dedicated office until all the kids move out. Right now, my desk and supplies are in a corner of my bedroom. I have a quarter sawn oak teacher’s desk. It faces the wall, but has a large window to the left so it gets a lot of natural light. I have a three-tiered vintage shelf above it where I keep supplies in pretty mugs, tins or floral frogs. The desk is large so I have room for a stack of wooden cigar boxes where I also keep supplies. My house is 100 year old and the long windows, floor vents, plaster walls, and scare electrical outlets can cause decorating and work dilemmas – although, I’d rather have these inconveniences than a modern house.

  9. Elizabeth

    I love all your ideas! Thank you for always sharing. I have a problem with trying to paint over brown wooden furniture cabinets!!! I love the white or white wash as I live in a barn house but just getting the paint brush to paint the furniture I have, makes me think I might regret painting it! How do you decide?

    • Holly Binns

      To Elizabeth with the barn home – You just have to go for it! Worst case scenario is that you hate it and have to sand and restain whatever you paint. But I bet you will love the results. So, watch a few YouTube video demonstrations, take a deep breathe and just commit. I was terrified that I would screw things up my first time. I’ve now milk painted about ten things around my house, from bookcases to a blanket box and potting table. It’s always fun to see the transformation, although you do have to power through the “ugly stage”, after the first coat is on and it looks awful. The second coat is magic. Good luck!

  10. Christie

    I love this! Can you post a little more about what home office supplies you use, maybe prior setups and why they worked/didn’t work, how to maximize wall space etc if you don’t have a lot of space. I can use all the help I can get as my husband and I are both working from home, and looking like it’s going to be indefinite. He has the office now and I’m in a bedroom turned part office. I know many are in the same boat. You have such thoughtful posts and such wisdom, thank you!!

    • beverlee b lyons

      great request, Christie. Me, too!

  11. Lisa

    Wow! What a wonderful place to paint!!…all that natural light, It is perfect.
    Can you share where you found those great lamp-on lights??? I’ve been admiring them in magazines but can’t find any myself?

    • Marian Parsons

      The clamp-on light on the easel is from Restoration Hardware Teen.

  12. Afton Jackson

    I was impressed by the part of your article that showed how to store things like documents and folders to still be able to fit the color palette of a home office. This reminds me of the problem I had with my own home office and how I had a hard time making it a part of my home without sticking out like a sore thumb. To follow your advice, I’ll look for any home office furniture store that I can buy drawers and shelves from so I can mix them in with the natural tones of my house.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


Subscribe today

and receive a FREE e-version of my planning sheets!


Articles by Date


our sponsors

Bliss and Tell Branding Company