How to Make a Creative Workspace (2024)

We are products of our environment. Learn how to make a creative workspace that stimulates the mind, refreshes well-being, and boosts creativity.

We are complex creatures, and so is our relationship with the environment. Just like the many creative benefits, one can gain from time in nature, so can be true about designing a creative workspace. A 2017 study found that negative elements in a workspace led to increased health issues and61%of employeesfeeling burned out. Luckily, this is beginning to change in many companies. There are also new studies coming out to help guide people on how to design better creative workspaces.

But how does one create a workspace that supports well-being and boosts creativity?

How to Make a Creative Workspace (1)

How to Make a Creative Workspace

Whether you work in an open office space or at home, there are many things you can do to create an environment that encourages creativity and soothes well-being. The guiding principle of creating a physical environment that improves well-being and creativity is putting people at ease to get the creative juices flowing. Consider these elements when designing your creative workspaces.


  • Freedom
  • Comfort
  • Flexibility
  • Functionality
  • Play

How Environments Boost Creativity

In the 1960s, psychologists began to question the interplay between individuals and their surroundings and developed the study of environmental psychology. The field examines how the natural environment and our built environments shape us as individuals. Research is aimed at solving complex environmental problems to improve individual well-being within a larger society. A recentstudyfound that creating healthier environments, rather than solely focusing on health-care systems, can lead to greater workplace well-being and productivity. Environmental psychology is not a very large field, but with more organizations adding wellness programs to their work cultures, it has the potential to be one of the most impactful regarding the future of work and creativity.


Place IdentitySelf-identity in the physical world in which the individual lives and is related to the concepts of community formation.

  • A person’s identity includes feelings of security and freedom as one is able to self-identify and especially when it comes to being able to foster agency over community formation (Bauman, 2001).
  • Fostering community is largely seen as an extension of agency because when a community is able to achieve a sense of place and place attachment, individuals can reinforce their own identities and strengthen their bonds within their community (Isabelle Anguelovski, 2014).

Place AttachmentA person’s emotional or affective ties to a place.

  • The bond between a person and a place plays an important role in how someone experiences the benefits of an environment (Knez & Eliasson, 2017). This shows that how a person frames their thoughts about a place affects how they feel when visiting. For example, if a person doesn’t enjoy their workspace, their work and well-being won’t benefit from the environment.

Place Engagement – The engagement and level of comfort a person has in an environment.

  • Evidence is building that employees may waste time and energy when trying to cope in a poorly designed workspace. People need to be more than healthy and safe in the buildings they occupy. They need environmental support for the activities they are there to perform (Vischer, 1996).
  • Active engagement with one’s environment can improve sustained attention (purposeful attention). Although more evidence is needed on whether it can influence affective restoration (mood-boosting) (Pasanen et al., 2018).

Creative spaces come in all shapes and sizes, but there are layout elements that can further support creative work.

Perhaps the most difficult element of setting up a creative workspace is the room. This because you may not be in a position to choose, but don’t fear there are many ways you can improve a room if you don’t have access to these science-backed tips for choosing the right room.


High Ceiling

  • Astudyin 2007 found that having higher ceilings is associated with feelings of freedom. These feelings of freedom helped people with abstract and relational thinking styles, which led to more idea generation.


  • A 2001studyfound that windows with views of nature were found to enhance work and well-being in a number of ways including increased job satisfaction, interest value of the job, perceptions of self-productivity, perceptions of physical working conditions, life satisfaction, and decreasing intention to quit and the recovery time of surgical patients.


  • A 2017studyfound that wood interiors can provide for a more comfortable visual ambiance.


  • Astudyfrom Cornell found that the optimal conditions for productivity are between 70-77F. What’s important is a person’s comfort. If the temperature is too hot or too cold, creativity and productivity go down. This is because a person’s discomfort can be distracting and forces energy that should be used to concentrate to be focused on trying to get comfortable.


  • If you can’t choose a room with high ceilings, try theseinterior design hacksto make a room seem taller.
  • If you don’t have a room with a view, invest in artwork and photography or put up a screen with live cams of beautiful outdoor areas.
  • If you don’t have rooms with beautiful views, bring the outdoors in with indoor plants.

Creative Lighting

When designed for creativity, great lighting adds new dimensions to a creative space that supports well-being, productivity, and creative living.

Continuing with the trends found in choosing the right room, consider what affects feelings of freedom and comfort. Lighting conditions in work and creative spaces contribute to a variety of factors related to satisfaction, productivity, creativity, and well-being.


Natural Lighting

  • According to theJournal of Environmental Psychology, natural light fosters creativity as it encourages feelings of freedom. Natural light contains ‘blue light’ which can boost the immune system, increase dopamine levels, and lower cortisol levels.
  • A 2014studycomparing the effects of natural lighting vs. artificial lighting found that people that work in natural lighting were significantly more alert and had better moods over the course of an afternoon with the changing light. They experienced more visual comfort with other circadian and wake-dependent functions as compared to those working in artificial lighting who experienced a drop in energy. This is because our cortisol levels drop significantly under artificial or poor lighting conditions.

Lighting Temperature

  • A study at Cologne University of Applied Sciences found that light temperatures affect concentration and creativity differently. For example, creativity was better under warm light (3000 K) than under colder light (4500 K, 6000 K), while concentration was best under cold light (6000 K).

Circadian Rhythm

  • When it comes to lighting, it’s also crucial to understand your relationship with the circadian rhythm. Many aspects of human physiology are biologically pegged to the circadian rhythm. If you better attune your sleep-wake cycle to the circadian rhythm, you will have more creative and health benefits from the right lighting.


  • If you’re feeling anxious, let natural light in, which has been shown to improve happiness and productivity.
  • If you need to focus or brainstorm ideas, turn the lights down.
  • Bring in more natural light by placing mirrors across from windows to bounce light and fill the room.
  • To better experience the benefits of proper lighting, improve sleep quality to work with the circadian rhythm.
  • Excessive sunlight can also hurt creativity due to glare, unwanted heat, faded material, and other unintended consequences. Consider having Venetian blinds, exterior awning, and shading devices to have more control of the environment and avoid any extremes.

Creative Colors

The psychology of colors can transform any creative space to fit a desired mood and purpose.

Can the color change your mood and boost creativity? Research says yes. The science of color is sometimes calledchromatics,colorimetry, or simplycolor science. It revolves around the perception of color by the human eye and its effects on the brain. Throughout history, color has played a role in culture and is used as symbolism to evoke human emotions. Countless studies have shown how different colors have different effects on cognition. Color is part of how we see the world and is incorporated in everything from survival to emotions, but how can it improve creative spaces?


Warm Colors

  • Red, orange, and yellow evoke so-called active emotions, or feelings that involve physical arousal (Clarke and Costall, 2008).
  • Red can increase performance in employees who have a detailed assignment (Mehta and Zhu, 2009)
  • Yellow stimulates mental alertness and muscle energy and can inspire optimism. However, too much of it can cause anxiety (Kaya and Epps, 2004).

Cool Colors

Color Psychology

Best Colors For Creativity

  • Green– Sparks inventiveness, promotes harmony, calm, and reduces eye-strain.
  • Yellow– Motivates and inspires creativity, imagination, and inspiration.
  • Orange– Increases energy and enthusiasm.
  • Blue– Inspires calm, focus, stability, safety, and serenity. It also promotes communication, trust, and efficiency.

Other Colors

  • Red– Stimulates the body and mind and increases circulation. Also creates feelings of passion and incites activity.
  • Purple– Symbolizes spirituality and healing. It promotes deep contemplation.

Colors That Hurt Creativity

  • Grey– Often represents neutrality and can lower a person’s energy.
  • White– Isolating, clinical, and hinders productivity.
  • Black– Symbolizes strength, power, precision, and professionalism but is also consistently seen as defiance.


  • Use smart lights to change colors depending on the task or effects needed to improve well-being.
  • Steer clear of thick pile carpet and other light-sucking materials on floors and walls.
  • Keep surfaces free of dust for maximum reflectiveness.

Creative Furniture

Picking furniture for your creative space heavily depends on your creative process and habits.

Furniture in the creative space needs to support the individual or teams as they move through the creative process. The best furniture for your creative space will be that which you’re comfortable and productive in. When choosing the right furniture, be sure you know the needs of your creative process and the constraints of the room.


Mess vs. Order

  • As most creatives will expect,studieshave shown that a messy environment can help with creativity and inspiration. An example of this is Einstein, who said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?”
  • However, clutter can also have a negative effect. Environments with high amounts of clutter have been linked to increasedstress,lowerability to focus, andcan create a vulnerability that leads toover-consumptionand unhealthy choices.

Standing vs. Sitting

  • Astudyby Washington University found that standing up in meetings encourages collaboration and creativity between workers.
  • Posture plays an important role in staying focused and creative output. Astudyby Texas A&M found that standing at your desk can improve posture and increase productivity by 46 percent.


  • Have separate workspaces or clean a space based on the needs of the task. For example, a mess can help creativity, while a clean and open area can help with productivity.
  • Choose a chair for comfort and adaptability.
  • Consider the creative process when planning your storage areas.
  • Prioritize clean up byclearing your deskat the end of the day.

Creative Decor

A creative workspace should be an expression of your creativity capable of inspiring and supporting your creative passions.

Nothing makes a space more creative than the personalization of decor. Especially if you don’t have control or choice of the room, the next big thing you can do is fill the space with inspiration and elements that improve well-being.




  • Inspiration can increase dopamine and is related to important psychological resources, including self-efficacy, self-esteem, and optimism.


  • Music affects reinforcement learning and can improve mood, memory, and productivity (Gold, Frank, Bogert, Brattico, 2013)
  • Use music to boost well-being and creativity.
    • Onestudyfound that playing upbeat music led can improve processing speed and memory.
    • Anotherstudyshows that listening to music has an impact on the stress response, particularly the autonomic nervous system. Those who had listened to music tended to recover more quickly following a stressor.
    • A 2012 studyfound that listening to positive music may be an effective way to improve happiness.


  • Choose decor based on what inspirespositive feelings.
    • Ask, “Does this bring me joy?”
  • Decorate with elements that sparkcuriosityandlearning.
    • Always have an area for books to read, which builds new neural connections in your brain and inspires curiosity.
  • Choose decor that embodies yourcreative goals.
    • Create an inspiration board.
    • Include artwork from favorite creatives.

Creative Plants

No creative workspace is complete without the health and creative benefits of plants.

The list of benefits of being in nature is long and continues to grow. Besides taking time outside, you can also bring nature inside to boost creativity and improve overall well-being.



  • Take breaks from working with walks outside in nature.
  • Entice your senses with outdoor smells. Lights candles and incense inspired by the outdoors.
  • Open your windows.

Creative Gadgets

Used properly, workspace smart devices and gadgets can support the creative process to boost productivity and well-being.

There are times when it’s best to turn the technology off for better work, and there are times when you can use technology to boost creativity and well-being. The guiding principle is moderation and separating technology that distracts and technology that assists.




  • One of the leading reasons for using smart products is the benefits of automation. Certain smart products and software can help speed up processes, and most importantly, reduce the inordinate amount of time spent on tasks that can create burnout.


  • Best Smart Products for Creatives
  • Best Apps for Creativity
  • Best Notebooks for Creatives
  • Best Apps to Stay Healthy and Creative
  • How to Use Trello for Creatives

Creative Play

All work and no play makes creativity a dull way. The creative process and workspace need playful elements to keep the creative workspace fresh and supportive.

The act of play has long been known to be an important aspect of human development. As children, play helps drive curiosity to learn, explore, and experiment. The intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of play are its own reward. However, as we grow older, play decreases. What’s interesting is that scientific creativity is often conceptualized as play, for example, the feelings of interest, enjoyment, and surprise. So why do adults decrease the amount of play in their lives if it can be such an important aspect of creativity, and what can adults do about it?


Play Improves Well-Being

  • Research shows that play at work is linked with less fatigue, boredom, stress, and burnout in individual workers. Play is also positively associated with job satisfaction, a sense of competence, and creativity. (Journal of Management, 2017)
  • Play has been found to not only be important to a person’s well-being but also improves relationships. (Van Vleet, Feeney, 2015)


  • Play helps employees working together experience increased trust, bonding, and social interaction, a sense of solidarity, and a decreased sense of hierarchy. Furthermore, research shows that play at work can benefit whole organizations by creating a friendlier work atmosphere, higher employee commitment to work, more flexible organization-wide decision-making, and increased organizational creativity. (Journal of Management, 2017)
  • Studies have also shown that play can drive motivation and productivity.



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