5 Easy Ways to Make Your Office Happier

You spend a third of your day in that cramped cubicle or ho-hum home office. These design hacks will perk up your space and your attitude.


Play With Light

Photo by KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

Many offices are riddled with abrasive fluorescent fixtures. To combat this, Jana Bek, an Ann Arbor, Michigan—based interior designer, suggests this trio of lighting as space allows: a floor lamp for warm uplighting, a table lamp for a flattering glow (try a pink lightbulb for even more ambience), and a small swing-arm lamp for detailed tasks. For an array of all three types, visit lampsplus.com.


Have an Inbox (Ahem, a Real One)

“Most people's ‘in-basket’ is their entire desk,” says David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. “Having a single collection spot for action items clears mental and physical clutter.” And make your inbox a pretty one (Rustic letter tray, $13; staples.com): A 2012 study in Journal of Consumer Research found that selecting products with good design can improve your self-image.


Infuse the Air With Citrus

“Lemon, sweet orange, and grapefruit essential oils are uplifting,” says Sharon Falsetto, chief editor at the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. Open floor plan? Forgo a traditional diffuser and instead sparingly spritz essential oil diluted with distilled water at your workstation.


Add Artwork

Bek swears by actual artwork at a desk (versus the laminated motivational poster variety): “A piece of framed art instantly gives a space a finished, homelike feel.” A beautiful piece like a painting or print, she points out, can relax and inspire. Plus, it creates far less visual clutter than a disarray of paper ephemera pinned to a corkboard. (Here and There print pictured; minted.com for more.)


Bring a Plant to the Table

“Plants literally permeate life into a sterile workplace,” says Christopher Satch, head of plant science and education at The Sill, a plant retailer in New York City. In addition to physical benefits (all that oxygen!), indoor plants may promote creativity. ZZ plants and snake plants require minimal watering and sunlight. (From $20; thesill.com.)