a minimal white desk with candles, notepad, pencils and flowers to inspire creativity

A Room of One’s Own: how to make a creative space that works

Do you want to level up your creativity? Look no further than the creative space you already have.

If you want to inspire creativity it is important to have a workspace that is yours. An entire office or studio is wonderful. Though for many of us a desk or small corner is what we have to work with. It doesn’t matter how big or small your creative space is, just that you claim one. Mark it as sacred, and get about the business of channeling the work that inspiration gives you.

Before you start thinking about expense and redecorating take a look at our surprising and simple research-based ideas to transform what you already have into an inspiring creative workspace.

Embrace the Clutter

creative space - artist workspace

We know, we know, Martha Stewart would be horrified. It is true that an orderly, minimal, decluttered space has benefits. You might be surprised to learn that they are not of the creative variety. Research shows a messy desk ignites creativity and novel thinking. A tidy workspace will induce you to do what is expected, to eat well and be generous but an untidy space will trigger breaks with convention. We all know the best artists are not known for their adherence to convention. So save the cleaning time, messy is better.

Make Some Noise

buddha in headphones

The myth is that a creative space should be all about the Zen. Quiet, peaceful sanctuaries away from the world. Think silent writer’s retreat in the mountains. Wrong! There’s a reason so many of us wander off to the local coffee shop to get some work done. Results from five experiments show that ambient noise gets those creative juices flowing.  Get outside the box with background noise that triggers abstract thinking. And a little distraction goes a long way toward increasing concentration.

Add some sound to your creative space with the Coffivity app – ambient cafe sounds at just the right level. If you prefer sound of the musical variety Brian Eno’s Music for Airports is an inspired choice.

Prefer natural sounds? Try Insight Timer for rain on a tin roof, running streams, whales song, waterfalls, birds and more. With a bonus option to switch to a mindfulness meditation if you hit a creative slump and need to reset your brain’s focused attention.

Turn Down the Light

It seems an obvious choice to throw open the curtains and let natural light spill in. Have you considered reducing light in your creative space? The Journal of Environmental Psychology reckons less light improves creative performance. The research says dim spaces help us feel free and set off an explorative processing style. So close the blinds, turn on a lamp, get cosy and see what happens.

Make Creativity a Habit

Regardless of what your creative space looks like, whether it is light and airy, silent or a noisy coffee shop you love to visit – go there often. Neuroscience shows that if you want to  build neural pathways for creativity you have to activate them regularly. Even if it feels clunky at first, or you sit and nothing comes – teach your brain to access it’s creative side every day. Contrary to popular myth, it takes more than twenty-one days to form a habit. Besides, creativity is a lifelong pursuit, right?

So what are you waiting for? Embrace the imperfections of whatever creative space you have and get creating.


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