Women are busy taking over the world: We’re climbing the ladders at major corporations, busting through glass ceilings on the regular, and starting amazing companies. Creating the ideal space to work in—one that helps you get it all done, while also bringing you joy—can help you thrive at your various hustles and projects, while also helping you recharge. This space is called a lady nook, and it just might be the secret to success—and happiness. It sets the tone for you to do anything and everything you want–from launching your side hustle to reaching your creative goals, whether that’s learning to play the ukulele or becoming fluent in Italian. Anything is possible!
Joy spoke to interior designer Mandy Cheng and freelance production designer Jacqueline Fong to figure out how to conjure up the perfect lady nook for any work/play/hustle/relax situation. Both Cheng and Fong work from home, and each has curated a space that helps them thrive at their work, and feel happy and relaxed.
Finding the perfect location
Your lady nook should make you feel relaxed and present. “It can be a spare bedroom if you are lucky enough to have extra space, or it can simply be a corner with your favorite chair in a studio apartment,” says Fong. It’s less about how much space you have, and more about your intention for it. It should be free from as much distraction as possible and accommodate the things you need.
Get creative: Do you have space in your garage, an extra-large closet you could clear out, or a breakfast nook you don’t use? Imagine yourself (and your things) in each space, and go from there. Fong recommends taking note of the areas in your home that you gravitate to, and the ones that make you feel your best and the most relaxed.
First, get back to basics
Your nook is going to need the things that help you get your specific job done. Think about your work needs — are you an artist who wants a drafting table? Are you making earrings to sell on Etsy and need a crafting area? Or are you a graphic designer who needs a table large enough for two desktop monitors? Only you will know what you need exactly, so make a list of your own must-haves.
For example, I’m a writer, so before I created my lady nook, I knew I needed a desk, chair, filing system for invoices, and a whiteboard to write out my ideas. Think about how you prefer to work; I like sitting at a desk but other writers might prefer a big comfy chair and a lap pillow to a traditional desk and chair.
Then, trick out your space
Now that you’ve figured out what you need, it’s time to focus on what you want. Both Cheng and Fong emphasize filling your space with the things you love. Things like plants, flowers, art, photos, knick-knacks, and tchotchkes.
Include things that remind you of your goals and inspire your creativity. Do you want to display markers of your past successes as a reminder of all you’ve accomplished, like awards or trophies? Or perhaps you want to put up a framed photo of your family to remind you why you work so hard?
Imagine a space that inspires you to do your best, and then list the things you need to make your dream a reality. Some of them you will already own, but not all. For example, if you want to put up the family photo… do you have one printed out, and is it in a frame that you like?
Time to go shopping!
Once you’ve created your master list, it’s time to hit the stores. Great places to look include thrift stores, flea markets, sites like Craigslist, and apps like OfferUp, which allow you to buy used goods from people in your community. Essentially, you can get what you need without breaking the bank or worrying about the environmental ramifications of purchasing new goods.
And remember to look beyond first impressions. If you see something you love, but it needs alterations, that’s totally fine. You can fix it on your own. “Sand the side table, paint the chair, change the hardware on the desk, or stick wallpaper on the filing cabinet. It will save you so much money, and your lady nook will look a million times better than a place that’s completely store-bought,” shares Cheng. This also works for smaller projects, including creating your own artwork, repotting plants into pretty containers, and painting frames for your pictures.
And don’t forget to give yourself time! Don’t go out and buy the first thing you see—remember, this is a space you’re going to spend a lot of time in, and so everything you add to it should raise your happiness levels at least a little.
Lighting, lighting, lighting
Cheng also urges you to take a look at your lighting situation. “Lighting is practical, yes, but it also sets the tone,” she shares. “Bad lighting can make any gorgeous space look like a dumpster fire, and good lighting makes any space look better and more inviting.”
The trick is to avoid overhead lighting and find a table-top lamp or hanging pendant that diffuses warmer tones. Cheng suggests G25 40-60w bulbs, or if you go LED, look for a bulb lower than 3000k. “Honestly, even a simple set of tasteful string lights can add so much ambiance to a lady nook without putting a dent in your wallet,” says Cheng.
Actually use your nook
Now that your lady nook is ready to go, the most important thing is use it. For that to happen, it can help to make everyone else in the house knows that when you’re in your nook, you’re off limits. Put up a “do not disturb” sign, close the door (if it exists), and guard your time in the space. If your nook is more exposed, you need to get creative about making sure you can use it in peace. For example, I have a friend who puts on a specific baseball hat when she’s in her nook, and it’s her signal to her boyfriend not to bother her.
Keep it clear of clutter
Since one of your goals is to actually use your lady nook, both Cheng and Fong advice keeping it clean. Put books back where they belong, file important papers away, and toss out any garbage. For some tips on keeping your space free from junk, check out our guide to decluttering your entire home in just 10 minutes a day.
With these tips, you can put together your own perfect lady nook in hardly any time at all. Trust me, you won’t regret it. After all, it’s a physical space to remind you there is time in the day for everything you need. You can do your work — and side hustles! and creative endeavors! — in a beautiful space that’s unique to you, and that is a very joyful thing.