Personalizing & Organizing Your Workspace With Color

Color can motivate the best parts of your personality and help you be on top of your game at work.

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Color psychology (yes, it's real) reveals that the tones and palettes around us directly affect our mood, productivity and behavior. The color of your office furniture and letter trays — even your stapler — does more than decorate. It inspires.

Color can motivate the best parts of your personality, and, if your desk is a reflection of your best self, you're likely to be on top of your game during the work week. "You're more likely to want to keep everything organized and neat, since by buying your favorite colors, you're buying into the idea that your workspace can be beautiful," says Meredith Zenkel, spokeswoman for office supply manufacturer Poppin. Items such as brightly hued modular desktop trays and tabbed three ring binders binders show personality and are ideal for color-coding high-priority projects or keeping personal items separate from business. "There are so many ways to meet needs and show off personality," she says.

But of all the colors in the rainbow, and the endless shades in between, how do you decide which ones are best for personalizing your workspace? Here's our advice.

Choose Your Palette

Start with your personal response to colors. Does pink make you cheery or want to cringe? Does yellow energize you or make you cranky? Although certain colors are popular, let your own preferences be your guide over current tastes and trends.

Next, consider the properties of your favorite colors. Architect and feng shui designer Anjie Cho explains:

  • Browns are earthy and symbolize stability. Think wooden desk or table.
  • Blacks and dark blues are sophisticated and provide clarity, which support wisdom and skillfulness. These colors are great for upholstery.
  • Reds are fiery and stimulating. Used selectively for office accessories or art, these hues add passion and energy to your work area.
  • Greens and light blues are healing and relaxing, helping to balance stress. These shades are a good choice for textiles like upholstery or curtains, or for painted furniture and accent walls.
  • White sharpens your skills and focus, and its reflective property keeps your space light and bright. It's always appropriate for ceilings and trim.

If the thought of all this color makes you a little nervous, start small. Keep your walls white, beige or pale gray to form a blank canvas on which accent colors pop. "This creates a modern, clean space to add to and allows for changes later in personal styles," says Phoenix-based interior designer Jeanine Sipple Dougherty, owner of J nine designs.

Mix It Up

Cho advocates combining colors to create a balanced workspace. "You don't want it too stimulating, because it may cause stress, or too relaxing, because you may feel lazy and sleepy," she says.

Getting more color in the office is easier now that companies like Poppin recognize the value of color, according to Pablo Solomon, an artist and designer based in Austin, TX. Everything from supplies to office organization products come in an array of colors, making it simple to infuse your workspace with colors you love. "Nothing will improve the morale and productivity of an individual employee more than having the option to individualize his or her workspace," he says.

Try outfitting your desk like you're dressing for a night out on the town. If your favorite clothes give you swagger, the components of your desk could embolden your work effort, too. "Choose colors that make you smile and represent your personal style," says Zenkel. "If you wear color from head to toe, make sure your desk is vibrant. If your style is a bit more subtle, just add a few pops of your favorite color."

Leslie Jacobs, founder of New Britain, CT-based professional organizing company Les Is More, accented her workspace with orange, purple and red. "I only use a little of each in my office," Jacobs says. "But each color gets me going and I feel more energized, which leads me to get more business."

An Exercise in Creativity

Playing with various tones, shades and color combinations allows you to experiment with office trends to find the palette that works best for you. A little exercise in creativity at work just may give the Monday blues a whole new meaning.