A calm and stylish space can boost productivity and look

good, as entrepreneur Liz Earle tells Gabrielle Fagan.

Millions of us now spending some, if not all, of our time working from

home. And one of the joys of working in your own space is that you're

the boss when it comes to design and ambience - so you can escape dull

desks and bland decor and kit out your own personalised sanctuary to

suit your taste.

Entrepreneur and beauty and wellbeing expert, Liz Earle, has teamed up

with blinds and curtain specialist Hillarys (hillarys.co.uk), to reveal

her own home office and simple but effective tips to help you conjure a

stylish work area of your own, where you can be happy as well as


"It's a quick and easy strategy for creating the perfect space, or could

be used for an existing office makeover, which could be just what you

need to reinvigorate your home-working life," enthuses mother-of-five

Earle, 54, who lives on a farm in the West Country. "There's undoubtedly

a whole host of benefits to home-working, particularly from a health and

wellbeing perspective, whether that's because you're escaping the daily

commute or because you're able to spend more time with the family."

Read on to discover Earle's approach for creating a calm and stylish

home office...

1. Work with the light

"Put your desk in front of a window; plenty of natural light is the holy

grail, as it's known to significantly help increase energy, creativity

and productivity," advises Earle. "Wood or faux wood Venetian blinds are

perfect for home office windows as they filter light, which will

minimise glare on a computer screen and the slats can be adjusted to

control light levels when the sun moves round during the day. Go for

function but don't forget about style. Roman blinds soften the look, and

a pretty botanical fabric brings a lovely feel of nature into the room."

2. Make an eco desk choice

"Make your office more eco-friendly with a desk made from reclaimed

scaffolding boards and simple trestle legs," Earle suggests.

"Scaffolding boards can be picked up cheaply from a salvage yard, and

the beauty of doing this is that you can design your desk according to

your space and needs. Make sure there's room for a task light and desk


3. Invest in a great chair

"As tempting as it sounds, dragging a chair from the dining room or a

stool from the kitchen is a false economy," Earle warns. "An

ergonomically designed chair may not give you the designer feel you had

in mind - but your back will thank you for it! You can always pretty it

up with a cosy sheepskin or throw.

"Don't hunch over a laptop - set up a computer monitor at eye level and

use a separate keyboard, ergonomic mouse or track pad. Rest forearms on

the desk while typing and invest in a simple foot rest to ensure you sit

with legs at a comfortable 90-degree angle to the floor."

TIP: Try to do simple stretches and strength moves regularly throughout

the day. You don't necessarily need equipment - try out chair yoga which

can be done while seated.

4. Get crafty with accessories

"It needn't cost the earth to decorate your office. Charity shops and

car-boot sales are perfect hunting grounds for quirky, vintage pieces,

or you could indulge in some DIY creativity," says Earle. "Cover plain

cardboard box files with wallpaper or fabric for a fabulous bespoke

look. A pin-board, made from a wooden picture frame, foam and fabric, is

a great way to display photos, to-do lists or other information you want

to see at a glance."

TIP: Schedule things in your diary that make you happy, not just work


5. Bring nature into your space

"It's been proven that plants in the workplace can reduce stress levels

and increase productivity," Earle points out. "Aside from these health

benefits, plants are a cheap and cheerful way to add decoration and

bring the outdoors in. I opt for green, leafy plants like ferns or ivy,

avoiding cacti whose spikes can create the opposite of a relaxed

feeling, or flowers with a strong scent, which can be distracting or

irritating." And if caring for real plants doesn't quite work out for

you, there are great faux options available these days, so you can still

get that calming, leafy look.

6. Conceal the clutter

"But remember, the more stuff you add to your desk, the more your brain

has to keep track of," adds Earle. "Working in a crowded space can be

mentally exhausting and distracting, even if you don't realise it. Get

creative with storage. I've used soft, floaty voile curtains to disguise

a shelving unit."

7. Create an uplifting display

Finally, treasured photos that spark joy, and meaningful sayings to keep

motivation levels up, make an ideal finishing touch. "Pictures and

photographs can be a great way to inspire creativity and a feeling of

wellness," says Earle. "Pick out three or four that are significant to

you and make sure those are in your view."