Articles, Lifestyle, Rachel Morse
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Office of Your Dreams


It’s the place we spend all our working lives, which, for many of us, is more hours of the day and more days of the week than we spend at home. And yet, while we take care that our homes are comfortable, practical and attractive, few of us think of making our offices equally ‘liveable’. Rachel Morse, principal consultant and interior stylist at Colour on Location in Leura has some great tips for creating the workspace of your dreams—whatever your budget.

American interior designer Albert Hadley said, “Make your home as comfortable and attractive as possible and then get on with living.”

“Hadley’s advice could just as easily apply to a work space,” Rachel says. “Make your office as comfortable and attractive as possible and then do what you are there to do.” Having an office that makes us feel like we are ‘in our element’ is an easily overlooked part of the workplace environment. We might have thought about desk ergonomics to make sure we don’t injure ourselves just sitting at our desks, we might have thought about lighting and even about WH&S in terms of filing cabinets and trailing cables. (You haven’t? Well, as you implement some of Rachel’s ideas for bringing life to your workplace, how about you look at those too?)

Some of us might even have had the pleasure of working in a funky office and know first-hand the difference it can make. Just having interesting and pleasant things to rest the eyes on when staring into space, getting the next idea or composing an email, can make the difference between feeling inspired and motivated—or flat and desperate to escape. But where to start?

“The workplace needs to be in line with your branding (the ‘personality’ of your business), or—if you have a home office—in line with your professional personality,” says Rachel.

The style of your business

The best place to start is by thinking about the same kinds of things you considered when selecting the colours and style of your logo, business cards or website. What colours do you use? What typeface do you use? Is the general feel formal or casual, classic or contemporary?

The style of your particular business might be flowing and floral, with lots of white space and one or two pastel colours; it might be bold with strong, vibrant colour, straight lines and a chunky font.

Rachel suggests imagining your business as a person, and imagining what that person would wear, the music they would like, the colours and artwork they would favour—even what TV programs or films they might watch. If you are a sole trader this is possibly an easier exercise if you are the personality of your business. However—for some business owners—the personality of your business may not be the same as your own, and the one in the workplace may be a different person altogether from the one curled up on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon.

“If you find it difficult to describe who your business is in this way, then start with who your business is not—the things you want to avoid in your work environment; for example a particular colour or shade you dislike or a feeling that you do not want to convey to clients.”

Once you have your business’ style in mind, it is easier to visualise what kind of office that ‘person’ would thrive in. “This type of profiling is incredibly helpful,” says Rachel. “Knowing your business’ style saves time and, importantly, money, because you will not be buying items or investing in interior design—or even renting office space—that is simply wrong.”

Creating the office of your dreams on a budget

Rachel’s six basic tips for making your office more like the office of your dreams are very budget friendly.

1. De-clutter your workspace

This almost goes without saying, but a cluttered workspace really does contribute to a cluttered mind. Take a good look at what’s on your desk: do you really need all of that ‘at hand’? Can some of it go on a cork board or magnetic whiteboard? Do you need a vertical rack rather than a stacked ‘in’ tray? Does your office need a good tidy?

2. Streamline your existing work areas

Is the positioning of some of your office equipment awkward or unsightly? Could a small investment in a shelving unit make a big difference? Could an extension cord—strategically and safely hidden—mean your desk can be closer to the window to catch more natural light?

3. Choose accessories that fit your style

While you are de-cluttering and streamlining you may find you need things like a business card box, slipcases or a vertical desk-filing system. Buy with an eye to attractiveness as well as functionality—they may cost a little more than the drab grey ‘value’ items, but surrounding yourself with things you like to look at truly adds value to your workplace health.

4. Invest in plants

Live plants help oxygenate the room, drink in all the unhealthy carbon dioxide and provide colour and comfort, however even a dried or good quality artificial arrangement will brighten your space.

5. Hang more than just your business name

Style your space with awards or qualifications you have achieved—even if you don’t meet clients in your office. They can be a wonderful boost on days when you wonder if you really have it in you. Include one or two pieces of artwork that you like. They need not be expensive, just nice to look at and in line with your business’ style.

6. Colour your world

Look at the walls and floor—can you paint or wallpaper a wall? Can you change the carpet or put down a rug? Can you invest in nicer blinds (or just clean them!)? Stick to a limited colour palette (2–3 colours at most, one of which should be neutral), and, if possible, stick to your brand colours.

If you aren’t sure just what will suit your space, start small—a few items as your budget allows. “The secret is to know your business’ style. Then you can choose a few items or an entire fit-out to suit that exact style,” says Rachel. Once you start to think about how you can transform your workplace in the same way you might think about your living spaces, your imagination really is the only limit—and the office of your dreams is well worth the investment.

TIPS for transforming your office space






Paint or wallpaper, carefully chosen to suit the space, on a feature wall

Paint or wallpaper, more expensive or on more walls (2–3 colours)

Complete redecoration—perhaps hire an interior decorator


Low-cost art (charity shops, local art shows, garage sales, etc.)
Your qualifications or awards, in nice frames

Larger, or better, artwork—choose carefully to suit your style and space

Commissioned artwork (don’t forget local artists!)


Low-cost rugs (remember to anchor suitably to prevent trip-hazards)

Change the carpet, or invest in larger or better quality rugs

Bespoke rugs and/or carpeting, polished wood, parquetry or concrete floors


Bulbs that give better light
Add shades to diffuse light and create a feature

Additional lighting, perhaps floor lamps or wall lamps
Clean or replace blinds

Replace strip-lighting or invest in designer fittings
New blinds, and not just the usual louvres


Clean/repaint existing items
Fix/replace broken items
Add some cushions

Reupholster/repaint existing furniture
Replace some key pieces

Custom-designed carpentry
Stylish ergonomic chairs
Feature fabrics and cushions


Pot plants or artificial arrangements

Larger plants (depending on space)

Hired and managed plants or floral arrangements

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