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Desk Styling 101: How To Make Your Desk Cute AND Practical For Everyday Working (Plus A Bunch Of Affordable Accessories)

For reasons unexplainable to us, the week after Labor Day feels like the start of a new year. Perhaps it’s the official end of summer and the unofficial beginning of a new school year that beckons a new beginning. As such, we find ourselves cleaning out closets, getting rid of things no longer serving us, and organizing organizing organizing. So today, we are bringing back an old favorite to commemorate this artificial new year. If you are anything like us, you know nothing says fresh start like a clean, organized, and styled desk. If you are looking for a small and attainable project to get your juices flowing, look no further. In just 5 simple steps, your desk will be transformed and maybe you will be too:)

I read the craziest statistic the other day. It was “the average office worker spends 15 hours a day at a desk” which is truly baffling considering the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day and at least 8 of those should be spent sleeping. For many of us, our permanent work or school desk just relocated into our homes and now is in need of a major glow-up. So today I’m here to do what I do best –– look through our past EHD archives to create an easy peasy formula for how you can decorate your desk so it’s stylish like you BUT IS ALSO PRACTICAL (cause if it wasn’t functional who even cares).

Quick sidebar before anyone gets VERY worried about storage (seriously, we don’t want that), this post is strictly telling you how to make the TOP OF YOUR DESK a stylish and practical space. So we’re not chatting about filing cabinets or any other important document storage that happens under your desk (although that’s an important conversation for another day). We can only tackle so much at a time, so if you’re looking for something more specific check out our recent posts: affordable desk combos (this one has actual furniture shopping options for your desk set up), rugs you can roll your office chair on, kids homeschool desks, or check out what Emily’s hilarious work from home situation looks like (update: it still hasn’t changed). Okay, now let’s get on with the desk accessories and styling (the fun part!).

The Basic Formula:

Alright, everyone. For the simple and practical everyday desk styling, you only need 5 ITEMS OR LESS. You heard this right. That’s IT and we have some real solid affordable options here, so you can a desk set up that won’t force you to work more hours to pay for it. Here’s what you gotta do:

Step One: Grab A Lamp (Or A Sconce)

Having an extra light on or above your desk makes your life better and will look nice. It helps in the mornings and at night when it’s a little dark over there, but you still want to be able to see ya know? Function and fashion…desk lamps are a double win. We’d also recommend that you grab one that’s taller to give your desk styling some height (and so it can cast a light overhead versus straight into your eyeballs).

Step Two: Art, People!!

Now you have creative freedom here, so maybe you want to do a full gallery wall or one big piece of art. Do whatever the heck makes you happy, but I guarantee adding something framed above or on your desk will give it the personal touch you need to keep motivated for 15 hours straight. HOT TIP: This is a great place to add in a family photo if you so please! Check out the post I wrote last week on how to frame your family photos in a cool designer approved way if you need some inspo…

Step Three: A Cute Plant

This is perhaps one of the less “functional” or “practical” things when compared to a light or mousepad or whatever, but a lil plant friend will add so much life and character to your space that it really will become a necessity. You’ll see. You want the place you spend the most time to feel cozy and warm, yes?? Grab yourself that lil plant baby and pop her in a fun planter and VOILA! Instant happiness.

Step Four: Pencil/Pen Holder/Organizer:)

Easy access to a pen and paper is crucial, so you need a place for all your favorite #2 pencils, pens, highlighters, sharpies, and whatnots. Essential and SO useful.

Step Five: A Mouse Or Desk Pad

Last but not least. We fully believe in the power of a mouse or desk pad. It’s hard to find a good, affordable one (unless you scroll down below and see our roundup), but let me tell you, once you do it’s awesome.

Now that you know the basic steps, you can actually add as many or as few of these items as you want. If you read that last mousepad section and you were like, “No way, I don’t want a mousepad,” here’s the fun thing…don’t get one!! This is the basic gist you can go off of, but if you’re a minimalist, it’s your desk and your house so just do what feels right to you. Here are some inspiration photos for your desk styling pleasures:

photo by tessa neustadt | from: sara’s office reveal

Someone recently asked us in our DM’s how we would style a gaming desk…I’ll be honest, gaming desks have way more lights, keyboards, monitors, gadgets and gizmos, so I’d say to style it similar to this one above & try to keep as few items off the desk as possible. That means get creative with your walls by adding art/sconces/etc 🙂

The next desk from one of our past feel good flash makeovers pretty much nails the formula to a T:

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the feel good flash makeover reveal

Also, a good idea, if you’re looking for more storage, is to add some shelves above your desk (and add bins). Now let’s say you don’t have a giant desktop hogging up your entire work area…1. Lucky you but 2. Same formula still works:

photo by tessa neustadt | from: sylvia’s surprise makeover

This is a great way to set up your desk while still leaving room if you want to bring a laptop over at any point in your life. Also, look at all the cute and personal family photos!! Polaroid and all!

Hot Tip

Vary the heights of the items you put on your desk to add visual interest.

Okay, I think you get the desk gist, so now it’s time to round up some affordable desk options so you can put this formula into ACTION. Lezzgo:

1. Oskar Moody Metal Desk Lamp Black/Gold | 2. Fila | 3. Dean LED Task Lamp | 4. Valencia LED Task Lamp Brass (Includes Energy Efficient Light Bulb) | 5. Audrey Coulee Desk Lamp | 6. TVÄRFOT | 7. Lemke LED Task Lamp (Includes Energy Efficient Light Bulb) | 8 Pillowfort Desk Lamp | 9. SIMRISHAMN | 10. Danish Design Lamp | 11. Task Table Lamp (Includes Energy Efficient Light Bulb) | 12. TORCH

1. Elisa Desk Organizer in Navy | 2. Wood Desktop Storage Unit White | 3. Skyline Divided Desktop Organizer | 4. Glam Desk Organizer | 5. Takara Desk Organizer| 6. Leather Saddle Desk Organizer

1. Desk Mat Green Fench Toile | 2. Office Desk Mat Blotter | 3. Galdas Large Mouse Pad Marble Pattern | 4. Two Toned Boho Print Desk Mat, Aesthetic Desk Accessory | 5. Gray Desk Pad | 6. Cork Desk Pad

1. Personalized Leather Mouse Pad | 2. Modern Mouse Pad | 3. Mid Century Arches Line Art Mouse Pad | 4. Mouse Pad Contour Line Art Table Mat Cute Mousepad | 5. Mouse Pad | 6. Hard Silver Metal Aluminum Mouse Pad

1. Pen Holder | 2. Solid Brass Pencil Cup | 3. Champagne Vegan Leather Nicole Pencil Cup | 4. Concrete Pencil Cup | 5. Minimalist Grid Pen Holder Set of 3 | 6. Small Cup | 7. Kaya Striped Ceramic Cups by Justina Blakeney® | 8. Ripple Glass | 9. Saco Pencil Cup

1. Kaya Shorty Ceramic Planter | 2. 3 Piece White Loom Planter Set | 3. Areaware Mini Stacking Planter | 4. Roma Vase| 5. Medium Brass Planter | 6. Striped Tiger Planter | 7. Indigo Blue And White Striped Pedestal Planter | 8. Striped Terracotta Planter Brown/Pink | 9. Utility Objects Medium Planter

1. Linen Lines # 2 | 2. Face 2 Art Print by Justina Blakeney | 3. Inner Peace | 4. Hills I | 5. Worthy Print | 6. Colors of the Sky by Claire Duda | 7. Shes Blooming Worth by Theresa Bear | 8. Rua Esmeralda | 9. Letterboard

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: The Feel Good Flash Makeover Reveal (Aka My Favorite Thing I Did All Year)

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Esme Valderas
3 years ago

love this! Could you share where the first leather chair is from? The brown leather without wheels. Please!

3 years ago

Why do all of the desks in these pictures face the wall? Who wants to face a wall all day? Turn the desk around and put the chair with your back to the wall so you can see the room, your window, your children, whatever, but not a wall.

3 years ago
Reply to  Y

There are a ton of offices like that – it’s pretty much the traditional office setup and easy to find plenty of examples online. However, a lot of living spaces are too small for that. Plus having the wall essentially gives you another work surface! It’s also easier to route cables without having to cut holes in a rug or run them across an open area. I personally have my desk right below a window – it’s nice to have a view, but there are definitely glare issues (you never want a monitor backlit by sun). However, I make it work because there’s no other place the desk can fit!

3 years ago
Reply to  Y

I like facing a wall, if I don’t have a nice view out a window onto a nature scene. Facing out into a room is too distracting (I can’t even imagine trying to work in the same room as my hypothetical children! My parent friends have been miserable working from home)

3 years ago

Some good ideas, but doesn’t quite work for me since my desk isn’t up against the wall. I feel like my desk feels cluttered so easily so all this stuff on it wouldn’t work, but I do like the idea of having a mousepad actually!

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Sarah Brown
3 years ago

Thank you for sharing this useful guide to set up an ideal and stylish our desk. I am very glad to get this amazing advice to make our desk more stylish and good looking. Actually, I am a professional freelance writer and work at home. My passion is writing and establishes my own writing business online. I also love traveling and connecting with more people. Anyways, I really appreciate the author for sharing this awesome guide with us. Thanks Again!

3 years ago

Amazing. i love this ideas. specially the way of writing is way to good. The steps written here makes easy to read and understandable. i love ideas and collection also. thank you for sharing this.