You'll actually look forward to tackling your to-do list.

By Elyse Moody
January 07, 2019
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Kana Okada

Go for Chic and Affordable

An ideal setup has warmth and style that's on par with the rest of your place. (In other words, you'll actually look forward to settling in with your coffee.) But you don't have to spend a fortune. Consider this IKEA desk, with its soft-gray finish and molded trim. It's a far cry from standard-issue office furniture, but it gets the job done with six shallow drawers, plus two deep ones for files. More mindful touches: gray frames that echo the desk and unify a gallery wall; plants; a small, sleek printer that passes for a lacquered box; a good table lamp instead of a blaring spotlight; and an upholstered chair that's adjustable, so you can keep your knees at a comfortable 90 degrees and protect your back while you conquer the day.

The Details: IKEA Klimpen light-gray desk, $250, ikea.com. Pier1 Imports Devon Collection Flax desk chair, $450, pier1.com. Aerin Darina large table lamp, in Volcanic Ivory (similar to shown), $629, circalighting.com.

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Kana Okada

Try a Stylish Small Space Solution

Kitchen-island entrepreneurs and dining-table campaigners, meet your new assistant: a pretty leather tray with handles that can handle it all. It doesn't necessarily take the sting out of paying bills or excavating your inbox, but it makes it a breeze to bring out the stuff you need (and it can be quickly stashed afterward, on a shelf or in a sideboard). High sides keep your business contained; sleek pouches conceal pens, receipts, and other ephemera. Wherever you put this system to work (ottoman-top offices included), keep the palette consistent to create harmony and calm. And to take your show on the road, pack essentials into a genius Japanese zipper binder with pockets that guarantee productivity.

The Details: Made Goods Dusty Rose Lenora tray, 20.5" by 14", $700 for a 2-piece set (with a matching 16" by 12" tray), shopcandelabra.com. Mochithings Better Together A4 zipper pouch v3, $60, shop.mochithings.com. Paperthinks leather file folder, in Ivory, $15, paperthinks.us. Delfonics Quitterie pen case, in Cream (similar to shown), $18, needsupply.com. Poketo Shape paper clips, in Gold Square, Copper Pyramid, and Silver Teardrop, $14 for 20 each, poketo.com.

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Peter Ardito

INSIDER TIP: TURN YOUR FAVORITE BASKET INTO A FILE CABINET

This wicker hanging-file box is well crafted and attractive enough to leave out-letting you access papers with ease.

The Details: Peterboro Basket Co. file basket, in Honey, $59, peterborobasket.com.

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No outlet, no problem. Plain wooden cabinet knobs direct the wire for the pendant lamp and an extension cord (for neatly plugging in chargers) where they need to go.
Kana Okada

Transform a Closet or Kitchen Nook into a Command Station

For an expansive vibe, we hung an oversize photograph rather than a group of small ones. A clear work surface begets a clear mind, so we masterminded smart storage: This slim desk, made of solid white oak, has a cubby (just like in grade school) to hold your laptop and supplies, while matching accessories pick up the slack: A magnetic knife bar works to secure metal clips and spiral notebooks, and a jewelry box hides stationery. A footprintfree pendant lamp hangs two and a half feet over the desktop to light it well, and covered cords, secured to the wall circuit board– style, reach a faraway outlet without tangling underfoot.

The Details: Akron St. Reader desk, $395, akronstreet.com. Blu Dot Daily Task chair, in Red, $599, bludot.com. Color Cord Company small tapered metal shade, in Black, $35; Standard plug-in pendant light-cord set, in Black & White ZigZag, $25; and cloth extension cord, 20', in Black & White ZigZag, $25, colorcord.com. Ester M. Nersisyan Balboa Park print, 30" by 40", in Raw Wood frame, $410, minted.com. Williams-Sonoma wooden magnetic knife-holder bar, 22", in Maple, $140, williams-sonoma.com. Poritz & Studio jewelry box, in White Oak, $220, poritzandstudio.com.​

Comments (13)

Anonymous
August 10, 2020
Great article guys . Really helpful http://malekclean.wordpress.com
Anonymous
July 23, 2019
I love your ideas for office spaces, but not many of us can afford $700 for two small trays. Please remember the ordinary people.
Anonymous
May 11, 2019
What is the wall color in the picture with the Klimpen desk?
Anonymous
January 24, 2019
Neatly done.
Anonymous
January 24, 2019
I love reading and getting inspiration from the posts. I agree with everyone, price points are a bit high. $700 for a tray set, I'll put that towards a travel fund. However this does inspire me to shop my closets, or go to my all time favorite place to shop Target, TJ Maxx , Home Goods, Pier 1, Pottery Barn etc. Lots of stylish, affordable alternatives. The ideas are terrific and I love using trays...........
Anonymous
January 24, 2019
I totally agree. Who would spend that kind of money. AND.....there are so many similar items that are so much less expensive. If those items were highlighted, I think that many more people would turn to this publication for help and ideas. It's a shame, because there are few other places that offer such a wealth of information and ideas.
Anonymous
January 24, 2019
The basket photo would be more impressive if "RECEIPTS" were spelled correctly.
Anonymous
January 24, 2019
Use the things you already have in your home, these are great inspirational ideas, mix and match these concepts for what works for you. You don't always have to spend money to get this look.
Anonymous
January 24, 2019
Beauty is in the eye on the wallet.
Anonymous
January 24, 2019
Martha these are really great pieces to have or acquire but being a retiree my budget can't reach the price points. Thanks for the superb ideas.
Anonymous
January 24, 2019
I agree! Beautiful but way too expensive
Anonymous
January 24, 2019
Get real- $700 for a tray?$60 for a pencil pouch? Paperclips for $20? Affordable is part of your tag line- yet nothing listed in affordable. In one article you are having me make decorations out of construction paper and the next purchasing something for my home office that is $700 that is NOT an electronics item. Martha- hire people who understand the value of money and what is considered nice and functional. You could obtain actual ideas from people who actually work from home.
Anonymous
January 24, 2019
Thanks for the ideas but seriously this stuff is way to expensive for most of us.