Jan. 12. 2015
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Whenever I post pictures of my workspace, desk, and studio, I receive so many sweet comments and compliments of how I style my space- you’re all too kind! So today, I thought I’d answer a highly requested blog post on how I decorate, style, and design my home studio space to work for me and also a space that generates inspiration for my work. I’ll tell you this off the top, it includes a.lot.of.plants.

This year I’ll be getting a studio space (fingers crossed), which I’ll show you of course, but until then I adore working from home and having the luxury of convenience from cooking in the kitchen and running around the corner to write down notes at my desk- it’s a fluid system for my line of work. Nonetheless, if you’re working from home or in an office you can always make your space feel incredibly special. My rule of thumb when decorating a space is it has to fit the mood; therefore when I’m at my desk I need to feel inspired, motivated, focused, productive, yet creative and free. I think step 1 in creating your dream desk is to think about what “mood” you want to evoke!

I’ll try tagging as many brands that you see on my personal desk in order to help answer those questions, otherwise so many of these elements are antique finds, gifts from ages ago, or made by my love Bennett (he totally made my desk and shelves!).

My top tips on how to create an inspiring workspace.


1. Bringing an element of nature into my workspace is crucial. I’m very connected with nature and am always itching to be outdoors more, having plants surrounding my space is an earthy and organic touch that inspires me. AND pops of green are always beautiful, especially beautiful when they’re flowers from someone special


2. As I mentioned, it’s all about creating a mood; the smell and flickering of candle light when the hours get late and light goes dim is incredibly relaxing


3. Set up a good lighting system that’s easy on your eyes and again creates a mood that you’re looking for in your space. I adore all the table lamps from West Elm. I’m fortunate to never have to turn on a desk light because my studio room is all white and filled with large windows all around, I try to use only natural light, it’s easier on my eyes when writing so much on the computer and it’s friendly on our electric bill (added bonus!)


4. I’m a sucker for organization, office supplies, and all things that are created to make my life easier and put together. That’s why I love using old wooden crates, stackable folders, cord huggers, and more to keep organized. Try finding trays and other organizational pieces to keep clutter at bay, remember a “tidy desk is a tidy mind”. Less time thinking about how messy your desk is and more time focusing your energy on work!


5. Enough said, if you’re sitting down most days writing (I am!), make sure you have a great chair that’s supportive and comfy, it’s not all about the looks. I actually love old school chairs with a firm back and soft seat, but would be open to more if they came my way (open to your suggestions!). I also try to get up every hour and walk, do a 10-minute workout, or jumping jacks just to get my body moving! (try antique malls or investment finds!)


6. I love getting cozy when I’m sitting here writing, so that means having a nice blanket or throw that I can easily drape over when I get a little chilly or just for added warmth and creating a relaxing mood.


7. I love wearing slippers or going barefoot in the spring and summer- when the latter happens having a good rug is essential. Rugs can completely transform a space in the matter of minutes- the design, size, style, and colors can radically shift the mood and style of the room. I adore my rug from Frances Loom, it’s neutral with pops of cream and brown which go really well with the rest of the space. Choose your favorite colors and designs that inspire your work!


8. I’m all about maintaining my zen from my personal life into work, etc. My work requires so much multitasking I often have loved ones and friends ask how I do it all- it truly comes naturally, but I also have to nurture and balance that “on the go” side with some zen. Try adding inspiration in whatever form you enjoy- pictures, drawings, words, phrases, etc.

Desktop background / “Style your Screen”

9. Dressing and outfitting your desktop background can be another level of motivation or inspiration especially if you’re on the computer most of the day or have it open! It’s perfect timing because I just launched the Nutrition Stripped “style your screen” series where every first Friday you’ll have a new image to post on your computer desktop- how awesome!


10. Laying out your gear, whether it’s drawing pencils, books, rulers, a camera, computer, ipad, etc.; be prepared to have your “tools” in moments reach for ease of workflow. I always have my journal, iPad, camera, and phone around for on the fly shoots, ideas, or inspired thoughts I HAVE to write down.

Bonus: use good ole’ Pinterest to gather your inspirations, use my boards to get you started! 

I would love to hear how you all keep your workspace and desk/studio inspirational. Share and comment below!

xx McKel