It seems we spend more time at our desks than elsewhere, so trying to make this place less boring, more personal and nice-looking makes sense, as it can improve our mood and productivity. There is no shortage of decorative accessories that can be used, but the tricky thing is finding the right balance between decorating your desk and cluttering it (we’ve all seen examples of half the desk being crowded with family photos or a dozen cactus pots, and have hardly ever been inspired by those.)
There are less chances of overdoing it when you don’t have a big desk – just pick a few spots where you can fit in something decorative, and that’s it. If you have a big one, try following the same rule, and replace the decorative objects by different ones when you get tired of them, rather than placing too many at once. Now, if your working space is already so small it can barely hold the necessities, this is more difficult, but not impossible. Here are a few ideas:
1. Pretty Functional
Some office rules don’t allow plants or scented candles due to the risk of allergies. Some desks may not allow room for an artificial plant or flowers that look very much alive. Even when it seems you absolutely can’t fit in anything decorative, for one reason or another, don’t despair. Add pretty elements to what you already often use or need on your desk anyway.
Take a transparent plastic or glass container, or a small vase of whatever shape you prefer (just not low, and too wide at the top) and fill it with something colorful or having an interesting texture. Store bought or courtesy of nature, probably veiled in pleasant memories of the places where you picked it – anything goes as long as it can fit in and you like the look of it. Your pencils and pens still can be held by the same container, so you don’t have to compromise on space or functionality.
2. Stick-it Monthly Wall Planner
You just stick it to the wall and write on it with chalk. Whoever came up with the idea of creating this must have struggled himself with forgetting things despite writing them down or relying on smartphone reminders and notifications. Assuming that being reminded of something just once is enough often doesn’t work. That’s why many people literally stick to writing things down on pieces of paper and sticking them somewhere they’ll be noticed more than once.
Post-it notes are useful, but when your fridge door or your desk starts looking like a weird Christmas tree with a lot of those, you find it either annoying or ineffective, or perhaps both. They may fall off, failing to remind you of something, but it’s also the messy look of such sticky buddies that made people create more streamlined versions of task reminders which use vertical space instead of adding to the clutter.
Chalkboard paint and a variety of write-and-wipe items are easily available for turning walls into organizers and keeping important information in front of your eyes. You can actually mount a magnetic chalkboard onto the wall for both writing on and attaching something to. However, if you don’t want to make any holes in the wall, an adhesive version of a wall planner will work best. It’s also a perfect solution if there already are some holes or other unsightly marks that you hate. If you’d like something prettier than a wall planner next to your desk, especially at home, here is another option:
3. Coloring Wallpaper
You are probably familiar with the anti-stress coloring books craze that took over the world in what seems to be an instant. Whether you are a fan of those or not, you might like the idea of something that looks like a big page from such books and can be glued onto the wall. This is convenient if there’s a stain or a scratch to be covered, or a difference in color on the wall after some piece of furniture has been moved. Your kids may like it, too, as a wall decoration near their desks. If they are small and love scribbling on walls, this can be useful as well – but then, the coloring wallpapers need to go elsewhere in order to be within their reach or to cover some already existing drawings.
4. Small Succulent Planter
The stores may offer tons of decorative accessories, but still, nothing enlivens your working space like an element of something floral or green such as flowers, bamboo spirals or stalks in a vase, or potted plants. Depending on your work/business trips schedule, you may not be able to take care of a plant that requires frequent watering or spraying. You can’t place something big on your desk, unless you’ve got a really huge one. So a poinsettia, a potted rose or begonia plant isn’t likely to be a good option, no matter how much you may love those.
If you like cacti, they may be fine neighboring with office supplies and papers, but beware of unpleasant experiences when accidentally touching them while you are trying to grab something quickly or frantically searching for a certain item on your desk. Succulents are better for desk decoration because they don’t need to be watered often, just like cacti, but they also don’t hurt your hands. Some can even produce tiny flowers.
Since succulents are miniature plants, a small container can hold an entire mini-garden of different ones. A traditional ceramic or plastic flower pot isn’t even necessary, you can just take something like a small glass jar, or even an empty face cream container, put a handful of soil into it, and that’s enough for a few succulents to grow on.
The variety of lovely designs small pots come in is likely to make you want a cute one, but the decorative potential of what you can put in between the plants is even more interesting. You can add natural and artificially created stones, shells, beads, fragments of broken jewelry that are not good for any other use, and even tiny empty bottles of your favorite perfume mini-versions.
5. Lego Smartphone Holder
On your desk, there may be little room to bring in anything additional, but your smartphone is already there – or where exactly, this time? Under some papers? Accidentally pushed into a folder while you were doing something? You may not have an idea until you have a call or some notification. Perhaps you keep it in your pocket or desk drawer, but why not let your kids make a useful gift for you, or for some other family members by putting together a Lego smartphone holder? Its design can be simple or fancy, but it will keep your device in one place where you can always see it. A box or a cup for holding your writing supplies can also be made from Lego bricks, but a Lego smartphone holder is cooler – at least, in the opinion of everybody I know. Actually, both can be nice as a matching set for your desk.
6. Photo Frames
These come in different shapes, sizes and clusters – including magnetic ones, photo holder trees, bigger and smaller photo collage frames (you can even buy a wrap-around-the-corner frame, but that one is better to use at home.) Digital photo frames are available, but you may not want to invest in those, or perhaps are concerned about their potential of becoming a distraction.
Anyway, if you have already tried to place some photo frame on your tiny desk, this resulting in knocking it over all the time, you are smiling skeptically. Again, before you declare this impossible, try attaching a photo frame to the side of something you already use for holding and organizing papers, books or folders. This can be done using double-sided tape or sticky tack (an adhesive for sticking decorations), and smaller photo frames can be attached to a square – shaped stationery box.
All of the above are also nice gift ideas, or at least fun small surprise ideas, if things like attaching photos to office filing, folder and stationery storage don’t exactly fit your idea of a gift. Even simpler than that, you can make a plain folder holder box look pretty with just a glue stick and some colorful pictures cut out of magazines. Why not give it a unique design and surprise your friend or colleague? Perhaps you have some more ideas to add that make desk décor both pretty and functional?
Photos: Natalie Gontar