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Working from home? 13 ways to be more inspired in your home office

Tips to make your office the best room in the house. 

Working from home? 13 ways to be more inspired in your home office

Corral clutter with serving trays


If your desk is multifunctional or in a room (such as a guest room or den) that serves other purposes besides work, a serving tray gives you a place to stash items and easily move them out of the way. For example, keep your office supplies in jars on a tray, and you can move them over to a nearby shelf on the weekend. Or keep a beverage carafe and glasses on a tray and bring them in to fill the desk when it’s time to declare the workweek over.

Original story by Yanic Simard for Houzz

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Invest in practical lamps

A properly lit space is crucial to maintaining your mood, productivity and health. Bad lighting can strain your eyes, especially if you’re staring at a bright screen in the dark. General background illumination can help. But instead of a harsh spotlight, go for a decorative table lamp with a warm glow.

To save space, you can also replace the desk lamp with a floor lamp or even a wall-mounted light like a swing-arm plug-in sconce. This frees up 10 to 16 inches of space and lets the light diffuse a little before reaching the desk, to light a wider area more evenly.

Stock office supplies nearby

For basic supplies like pens and pencils, think like an artist and use glass jars to keep everything in reach. The look is laid-back and stylish, and the fewer times you have to get up and search for supplies, the more productive you’ll be.

Get a desk pad

Besides being an attractive and comfortable place to set your computer and rest your arms while typing, a desk pad can also help to define a space that is forbidden from collecting clutter. A large pad will set aside enough room to move your arms and accomplish tasks without knocking over objects or beverages.

Provide refreshments

Speaking of the comforts of home, the more everyday essentials you keep on hand, the less temptation there will be to wander away from your desk. If you know you’ll need frequent top-ups on your caffeine, try keeping a coffeemaker on or next to the desk.

Or consider adding a beverage cart or a mini fridge, so sparkling water or sodas are always handy.

Organize that paper

If you aren’t perfect at keeping your papers 100 percent organized on a daily basis, it’s wise to plan ahead and give yourself a temporary place to stash documents until they can be properly addressed. Otherwise they can easily pile up on the desk itself and become permanent clutter. Set aside a specific drawer or desktop organizer for loose papers, and make sure you sort them properly every Friday before you finish the workweek (or on Monday as a reset).

Float the shelves

When your “office” is really a small nook in the home, rather than a full room, adding floating shelves provides accessible storage that keeps clutter off your work surface.

Make sure to include decorative elements on these shelves, like some inspiring books or art, so the overall look is still welcoming. Also, stick to light colors (such as white or pale wood) for the shelves. This keeps them from feeling too in-your-face.

A great home office balances the rigors of work and the relaxation of life in your most familiar and comfortable surroundings. But so often these spaces can end up feeling a little too “office” and not enough “home,” or vice versa. And that’s not good for business or pleasure.

To strike the right balance, consider these 13 decorating tips for perfecting your home office design—

Incorporate pattern and color

It’s been shown that color and pattern help keep you creative and stimulated at work, so don’t be afraid that some lively hues will distract you. For a perfect balance, keep energetic colors in your periphery while sticking to a more subdued look for the desk. That way, you can concentrate while on a roll, and let your mind wander when you need to lean back for a minute.

Pin it

If you use a bulletin board for sticking up reminders, samples and the like, go for a larger size than necessary and include a few positive photos or inspiration images. Don’t let the board be all to-do lists and bills, or you won’t ever want to look at it.

Dress up your desk with decor

One of the best parts about working from home is not being in a stuffy office. So why re-create a stuffy office at home? Include decorative elements in your office space, such as a chunky vase full of flowers, so you can enjoy the comforts of home all through the working hours.

Use a laptop

Some professions need a large desktop—or more—to work efficiently. If you don’t, consider skipping the massive monitor and work on just a laptop or tablet. This allows you to free up visual space and symbolically close the book on each workday, so you’re not always staring at a large black rectangle that’s reminding you of the work you still need to complete.

Hang artwork at the proper height

People often hang art at eye level, but your eye-level when sitting at a desk is very different from standing. Try hanging art 6 to 9 inches above your desk, and let a lamp, container or candles sit in front to play with heights and create visual layers. You can also skip hanging the art altogether and simply lean a piece on your desk for a more offbeat look. If the desk faces a window, you have a great view no matter what the weather.

Consider all angles

When working in a formal office scenario, the desk often gets crammed up against a cubicle wall. But one of the freedoms of working from home is often being able to sit at an angle with no cubicle to confine you. Angling your desk into the room diagonally can make even a tight office space (such as a small den with few windows) feel larger, giving the maximum amount of space between you and the opposite walls. Try moving your desk around until you feel the most comfortable—sometimes the right angle isn’t a “right” angle.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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