Are you inside right now? I’d betcha 10 dollars that you are. These days, people tend to spend close to 90% of their time indoors. This is especially true now that winter is upon us and as we practice varying levels of sheltering in place.

Your Space Should Reflect YOU!

Since we are all spending more time indoors, how are these indoor environments serving us? In other words, do the interiors themselves encourage health, creativity and happiness in us? How do the objects and colors in the space reflect my goals and interests?

Take some time to reflect on these questions. For my fellow workers from home, does your office space enhance or hinder your productivity? I plan to write another blog post about working from home and steps to take to make your home office a great space to get stuff done. Stay tuned for that.

How to Personalize Your Space

Now that you are considering your indoor environment, I’d like to go over a few points that are important for everyone to implement in your homes, offices, shops, and restaurants.

1. Keep the space functional at a minimum for the main purpose of the space (working, eating, playing, etc.). Then add personalization.

This may seem obvious, but if things like walking clearances, inadequate storage, or safety are a concern, your space is not as functional as it could be. Also, do you or your coworkers or family complain that the space is too hot, too cold, too dark, or too bright? All of these concerns are valid and should be addressed to keep all occupants working and living as productively as possible. If you ask your family or coworkers what they don’t like about the space, you will be sure to get a lot of feedback. The next step is then taking action to address the feedback.

Implementing individual control for components such as temperature and lighting can quickly alleviate these concerns. Well-designed lighting can improve the ability to carry out daily tasks. Task lighting on desks can help with typing, sketching, reading and other tasks that require focus and comprehension. Are there certain members of your team that feel too cold or hot all the time? Figure out the source of the discomfort and find a way to amend it. Some common sources are the location of vents, a lack of air movement, malfunctioning HVAC systems, etc. Being physically uncomfortable is not conducive to a good mood or producing great work results. Investing in an individual’s comfort will have compounding positive effects on the individual and the team they are a part of.

Next, you may wish to ask your family or coworkers what they actually like about the space. This may be harder to answer. Well thought out design elements are often invisible and unnoticed, since they don’t cause problems. It is worth the time and consideration it takes to come up with the answers. For example, if your coworkers enjoy the amount of natural light in a certain space, can you amplify the amount of natural light in other spaces?

2. The space should reflect your personal or company-wide goals and values.

You may be thinking,but Lillie, how does a plain, old room reflect my goals and values? To build on #1, the space should function well for its intended purpose and then satisfy functional and aesthetic goals and values that you determine. This may best be explained with an example. For a residential dining room, your goals and values may be to provide a warm, welcoming place for your family to gather. In this example, it should encourage your family values of togetherness and connection. So, there is a comfortable seat for everyone, and there will not be a tv.

For a commercial office building, your goals and values may be to establish an energetic and fun place for your employees to work. You wish to increase the productivity of workers and encourage individual creativity as well as team accomplishments. In this case, studies show that increasing the amount of natural light and amount of individual control can keep workers happy and increasingly productive. 

3. Add personalization to make the place “yours.” This can be done on a macro- or micro-scale. 

What around you did you choose or purchase? Did you have a chance to give input on your office layout or your proximity to the files or coworkers that you refer to often? I hope that you did. It is best for designers to understand the day-to-day flow of the space they are designing. If two partner departments or colleagues’ offices are on opposite sides of a building, their collaboration efforts may decrease. You can see how that can impact production and effectiveness of workers.

On a macro-scale (i.e. an entire building), consider the entryway and the entire layout as a chance to reflect your goals and values. Let the space show occupants or visitors what you have accomplished and what you value most. For your building, it could be displaying artwork from local artists to show your cultural and community support and involvement. It could be establishing an open layout that encourages team collaboration. On the other hand, the layout could promote individual work and focused idea generation. For this hypothetical space, it may be best to choose finishes and furnishings that absorb sound and contribute to a quiet environment. This ArchDaily article has a great overview of office layouts and functions that best serve the team working in them.

On a micro-scale, think about the desk or workspace where you spend your working days. For your desk, it may be adding pictures of family members or a motivational quote that resonates with you. If someone walked by your desk, could they identify it as yours? This applies to people who like clear workspaces as well as those who prefer to have stacks of papers keeping them company as they work. Find a desk or workspace set up that keeps you focused and energetic. You’ll spend a lot of time here, so it’s best to make it an enjoyable space. 

#staysafe & Conclusion

My final bit of information is just to encourage you to look for ways to add personalization to your space, a lot of which will be free or low-cost. For the larger, higher cost designs and renovations, keep in mind that investments in functioning, comfortable, and energizing spaces is never a waste of money. If you have any questions or comments on this topic, please reach out to me!

So, to conclude, my hope is that you are safe, healthy, and warm reading this, wherever you happen to be.