When it comes to work spaces, you can’t always get what you want, but you can learn to love what you get. Follow me here: You walk into day one of your dream job. The role is just right, you negotiated a baller salary, your boss seems pretty cool. Then, you’re escorted to your desk. It’s in an oversized closet you’re sharing with three other people. It’s all part of a plan to integrate teams to make you all more collaborative. It’s a good thing. It can be a good thing. But… you’re in a closet, and there are no windows. There are just four people in a tiny, bland space.

As companies move to create more fluid workflows and co-op environments, sometimes it leads to awesome headquarters and fab perks (unlimited vacation, anyone?). Other times it can lead to some less-than-ideal spots. Luckily, we know how to do a lot with a little. Think about your office like your home (you spend enough time there!), and invest in a few updates to design a space where you feel inspired to produce your best work and motivated to push through that weekday slump. Your psyche — and your boss — will thank you for it!

1. Update the lighting. Fluorescent lighting is kind of a drag, and even more so when it’s not balanced by bright, natural sunshine. Turn off the overhead lighting and plug in a few lamps — one or two tall styles to illuminate the whole room (use halogen bulbs that mimic natural rays) and a few more table lamps next to everyone’s computer. (via ABC’s of Life)

2. Decorate like it’s home. Lay down a couple of layered rugs in the center of the room to make it look pulled together. Perk up ugly black chairs with a throw (which can also double as a wrap on cold days) and a small pillow (lumbar support!). Buy flowers that last and don’t need too much attention like hydrangeas (they’re lovely dry too) or succulents to bring a piece of outside in. Have any extra table toppers and accents hanging around the house? Pepper in little bowls, bookends, and trays to make the decor look intentional, but not fussy. Hang at least one piece of art — preferably one with a tropical vibe that can mentally whisk you away on those days when the clock seems stuck at 3pm. It’s easier and more affordable than ever to find statement pieces that match your style and pocketbook; sites such as Minted, Artfully Walls, and Denys Designs let you create custom work for less than $100. Use the opportunity to bond with your officemates, and spend a lunch break looking for a piece you all love. (via Vandi Fair)

3. Create more space. There is nothing worse than a messy desk. Especially when there are a bunch of you in one space. Everyone’s stuff piles up, and soon you feel like you’re stuck in a storage closet. De-pre-ssing! Just like with small apartments, you have to work a little magic to create solutions that work for you. Maybe it’s installing three sets of shelves above everyone’s desk: one for file holders and trays to stash current and incoming to-dos; another for books, magazines, and a few decorative accents; and a top row where you keep boxes and other things you’ll need to access in the near future. Install some cute hooks along the back of the door so people can hang their coats and umbrellas out of the way. And consolidate things that can be shared, like cleaning supplies, into one community drawer. Organization is key here! (via The Crafted Life)

4. Make it personal. This one is a no-brainer: You feel happiest when you’re surrounded by things that inspire you. Pin up pictures of family and puppies, postcards, aspirational magazine clippings — anything that makes you smile. As far as office supplies go, since you have to see them and use them every day, you might as well get pretty things. Invest in a few packs of colorful folders, fancy pens, chic file holders, and cool things like lucite staples and patterned tape dispensers (Poppin and MochiThings are great resources). These small extras will also make boring, administrative tasks much more appealing. Win-win! (via Kelsey Tucker / Emily Henderson)

5. Tap into aromatherapy.Scent has a big effect on the brain. It’s why no matter how long you’ve been split up, the smell of a certain cologne will always bring back memories of your high school boyfriend! Employ a more productive version of the same idea by installing an oil diffuser that can be outfitted with different scents, depending on the time of day and kind of support you need. Peppermint boosts alertness, lavender soothes stress, citrus wakes you up, and jasmine oil can reduce pre-meeting jitters. Unlike many candles, modern diffusers aren’t overpowering, so the smell won’t drive any of your colleagues nuts.

How do you decorate your work space? Tweet us @BritandCo!

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