The Desk Set


Tips for bringing your personality to your workspace!

One-third of your life. That’s how much it’s been estimated that the average person will spend working. You’ll spend just as much time sleeping. But we’d bet that your work desk isn’t nearly as comfortable or inviting as your bed. (Okay, maybe not a fair comparison.) 

The point is, even though our workspaces are where we spend a huge portion of our time, they rarely feel like they’re truly our spaces. Often, that’s due to the fact that office policies prevent us from bringing our personalities to our desks. But that’s a mistake. According to the Harvard Business Review, their studies found that employees who can personalize their areas feel a greater sense of belonging, enthusiasm and engagement with their work.

 Another reason people might hold back from putting their innermost selves on display at work is a misplaced concept of “professionalism;” the idea of separating your work self from who you are when you clock out. While it’s absolutely important to keep many aspects of your private life out of the office, showing a little personality has been shown to make others perceive you as more approachable and more of a team player. 

Where you work is obviously a part of the equation. A home office will be 100% under your control, whereas an openconcept offi ce may have tons of rules about what you can and can’t personalize. As always, refer to the rule book before you make any decisions.

That said, we’re encouraging you to make your workspace your own! Add little fl ourishes to your desk that will help coworkers, clients and supervisors get a sense of who you are – and make you feel more connected to the work you’re doing. And that’s just good business!

Desk Pad 

The easiest way to transform the overall feel of your desk is a desk pad. If you’re unfamiliar, this is a large rectangle of leather, felt or vinyl that you place under the portion of your desk you use most. Not only does it protect the surface from wear and tear, it offers a soft spot with lots of grip for writing, typing or sorting papers. Because they’re so large, choosing a style that reflects your personality can quickly change the entire vibe of your office. A classic brown leather desk pad will obviously feel different than a fun vinyl one, emblazoned with sunflowers.

Go Vintage

Nothing beats classic pieces. Local curated vintage shops are just bursting with interesting objects that could serve as desk décor... including old-school desk sets! We love The Domestic, Subject Matter and Feather Your Nest, to name a few. But don't forget about local Peddler's Malls and Goodwill for thrifty cool finds!

Boutique Chic

Lexington's many boutique home décor stores have great options. House, The Front Porch, My Favorite Things, Real Deals and Violets all offer cute accessories that can help you freshen up your desk space. Don't forget that local clothing boutiques and bookstores (like Joseph-Beth) often offer cute home décor, too!

Think Big

Thinking of replacing your entire desk? Looking for comfy chairs? Wanting to bring it all together with accessories? Look to Norwalk Furniture & Design or Boulevard Concierge for great pieces. Overwhelmed? Trust a local expert interior designer to handle the details and help you make sense of your style.


Personal photographs in the workplace are sometimes viewed negatively. But we think that’s just silly! These photos give coworkers and clients a glimpse into your personal life – thus making you more approachable and trustworthy in their eyes – while helping you find a little calm in your day-to-day work life.

For managers, consider this; according to a study by the Harvard Business Review, photographs of an employee’s loved one actually make them less likely to engage in unethical behavior. The presence of even a single photo of a family member or partner can help cut costs like expense report padding or inventory theft.

If you’re sensitive to featuring photos of the people in your life at your workplace, you still have options to bring that sense of comfort to your desk. Consider photos of your pets, a favorite vacation spot or photos of yourself during important life moments.


When in doubt, accessorize! Like pulling together an outfit, accessories are where the magic happens. Display your interests, hobbies or personal style through some well-chosen décor items. For instance, if you collect vintage cameras, select one or two to display in your office (I actually have 18 in mine, but I’m a maximalist.) A cool clock, pretty vases, an interesting lamp, small sculptures or potted plants can show a lot about who you are in just a little space.

The Desk Set

While having a matching set – complete with a pencil cup, business card holder, tape dispenser, folder organizer, stapler and paper tray – isn’t necessary, it’s a classic desk styling trick that makes the whole space feel intentional. It also can bring a lot of personality to the space. A clear acrylic set with sharp lines gives a very different impression than traditional rosewood.

One of the frustrations of a good desk set is that it can be difficult to find all of the pieces you need in the same material or style. If you’re dead set on a blush pink desk set, for instance, we recommend incorporating an accent neutral (in this case, white would be perfect) that’s a little easier to find.

Bring It All Together 

A personalized workspace will make you feel more “at home” in your workplace; you will feel more productive, connected to your work and enthusiastic about your work’s mission. If something in your workspace is making you feel disconnected, distracted or less productive, speak up! Your supervisor might be able to accommodate your need, whether that’s different lighting or more comfortable seating. You deserve it! 

The Dont's

Politics, Religion and Big Opinons

Don’t incorporate controversial statements in your workplace décor (or conversation!) unless your work environment clearly supports that choice. Even then, the potential for interpersonal conflict really just doesn’t seem worth it – and could potentially land you in HR, or worse, turn off a potential client.

“Funny” Stuff 

In this world of memes, it’s almost natural to want to share something you found that makes you laugh. But in the workplace, that’s a minefield. Not everyone will share your sense of humor, and things you might take lightly, others may be offended by. It’s best to tread lightly with the funny business.


Plug-in air fresheners, diffusers, candles and room sprays are lovely. Unfortunately, they can be a menace to people with certain allergies (I’m one; your “air freshener” is my migraine.) How embarrassing would it be to have a client who has to leave because of your candle? If your office isn't client-facing but you have coworkers, be sure to get their permission before unleashing a fragrance on their senses. That's all we ask.

Dirty Dishes

Old, stinky bowls, takeout containers and coffee mugs aren’t pleasant – for you or anyone else. Clear them out!

Your Résumé

Do we really need to explain this one?