Curating a Creative Space at the Office

Two women stand in front of a whiteboard in a conference room

Studies indicate the average person spends 90,000 hours working in their lifetimes.

If you have an office job, that’s a long time to spend in a space that can either spark inspiration or drag down your motivation. 

For most of us, we work in spaces that lack creativity, even when it’s our job to be creative. But the beige office furniture and crisp, white walls of the corporate world don’t have to be your reality. 

Curating a creative space at the office, especially when you spend so much time there, can make an immense difference for your mood, work, and productivity. Figuring out how to create that space in a place you don’t have complete control over can be difficult, though. 

Some things are unavoidable, like which direction your desk faces or the harsh overhead lighting. But playing up small details can create a work environment that invites innovation and imagination. 

Make your goals visible

For the weeks when feel like you’re chained to your desk, make sure you have a reminder of why you are there. Putting up your short- and long-term goals can help you remember why you started in the first place. 

Part of the creative process is rethinking how you’ll meet your goals and re-assessing how you’ll get there. While the jury is still out on whether publicly announcing your goals makes them more achievable, you’ll at least have a reminder for yourself. That’ll serve as a driving force behind your creativity.

A few ways to do it:

For a lot of space: Put up a vision board 

If you’ve won the office lottery and you have the long-sought-after cubicle with a wall, or even your own office, utilize that extra space by putting up your own vision board and add photos, notes, quotes, and ideas. 

Try a fun cork board, like this one from Amazon, that comes with seven hexagon pieces you can arrange in any order you’d like to display your goals, ideas, and inspirations. Whether it’s a quote from a magazine article or a photo from a family trip, it’s a fun way to make your space your own. Plus, the ability to constantly change the vision board will keep your thinking fresh and your ideas flowing.

For a little space: Add a dry erase board  

This option, from Pottery Barn, looks chic, adds an element of sophistication, and also includes magnets so you can add photos or important notes. Jot down an inspiring quote along with your goals (which you can change or update with the swipe of an eraser) and you’re well on your way to a more creative space.

Bonus tip: Look for office items that are made for dorm spaces. You likely won’t need nails or a hammer to put this stuff up, making it friendly for your office.

Add playful stationery

How you choose to keep notes should reflect your creative style. Whether it’s a quick to-do list or a note you’re sending to a colleague, keeping the perfect stationery around will make all the tedious tasks feel a lot more creative and fun. 

Choose a stationery that shows a hint of style and keeps your work professional. There’s not room in a creatively-curated workspace for plain ol’ white paper.

We like the Ink+Volt Faceted Foil Notepads because they’re exactly what you need at your desk. They’re simple, with plenty of room for note-taking, but with an extra little sparkle that will have you looking for things to write down. 

Grab a notepad with an inspirational saying, like the Lucky Clover Notepad, or a notepad that showcases your favorite animal, like the Elephant Faceted Foil Notepad.

Create a mini coffee (or tea) bar 

When that writing block hits or the 3 o’clock slump creeps in, you’ll be glad you have a French press or a pour-over coffee maker at your desk. It’s a higher quality cup of joe than you’ll get from the break room and, in the long run, less expensive than a jaunt down the street to a cafe. 

Both options are space-efficient at your desk, can be easily cleaned, and will jump-start your motivation just when you need it. All you’ll need in hot water, your favorite beans, and a fun mug like this one from Anthropologie, to get you started.

If you’re soundly in the camp that believes caffeine to be a killer of creativity (caffeine keeps our brains focused and not wandering, which some believe to be the opposite of loose, free-flowing imagination) a tea station will do the trick, too. 

In fact, one study last year found that “tea helped...divergent thinking — the process of coming up with a number of new ideas around a central theme and what most people would consider to define creativity.”

Pick up some of your favorite herbal tea and a jar of local honey, and keep that nearby when you need to tap into innovative thinking. 

Add a personal touch 

Whether it’s adding a desk-friendly plant, like a succulent (you won’t have to worry about forgetting to water with these little guys, they don’t need much), or a few framed photos of your favorite moments, adding a personal touch in your work space can keep the vibe creative and cozy. 

To keep your workspace functional and organized, stick to adding pieces that are minimal and help keep your workstation uncluttered: a stylish pot for a plant or a unique basket for knick-knacks like keys, chargers, and headphones will do the trick. 

These pieces are funky and keep the space comfortable, but aren’t too over the top. You don’t want your work space to feel like you live there. Look for fun patterns in your favorite colors or bring in a photo of your pet to get you through the day. 

The details you add to your workspace are a reflection of you and will bring out your most creative side.

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