My Minimalist Workspace

Today I thought I’d give you a peek at my minimalist workspace – in case you’ve ever wondered, this is where the magic happens. :)

From the time I was a child, I’ve never been a fan of desks. When I was young, I used to spread my homework out on the floor; somehow it felt more expansive, more conducive to creative thought. I was always slightly uncomfortable in schools and offices, where I had to conform to a more proper workspace.

When I moved into my new flat, I was thrilled to see the deep, low windowsills – a perfect minimalist office! I love the natural light, and the ability to “people watch” on the street below. And sitting on my cushion puts me into a calm, peaceful mood – helping me achieve a yoga-like mindfulness while I work.

You’ll notice that I don’t have the usual desk accoutrements in my workspace – partly because it doubles as my living room windowsill, and partly because I don’t require much more than my laptop. I do almost all of my work digitally, so really don’t need pens, paperclips, or a stapler standing by. I keep a tiny stash of office supplies in a kitchen drawer, and a folder of essential paperwork in my wardrobe.

I know this setup won’t work for most people, and am certainly not suggesting you adopt it – just giving you a little glimpse into my world, and what works for me!

Miss Minimalist's Workspace

Miss Minimalist's Workspace

{If you’d like to read more about minimalist living, please consider buying my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

44 comments to My Minimalist Workspace

  • Dorothea

    That’s pretty much how my ideal workspace looks too. Love the idea of using the window sills.
    I took a very similar picture recently of my iPad and my cushion. I just need to get rid of all the other random stuff now ;)

    In a way, computers are turning into a kind of hearth of the home. They are so powerful these days that they take on a lot of the things that we have going on at home. Recipe collections, books, movies, work, social networks, games etc. A single piece of equipment can replace an office. Minimalist workspaces always remind me of how much things have changed in the past decade.

  • Julia

    I love it! I’ve been beating my office space into submission lately, but it’s been the hardest spot for me to keep streamlined. I kept & organized a desk for years, with little cups of supplies & so on, but I only work on the couch with my two dogs next to me, on a laptop. And that same laptop goes to the kitchen to be a cookbook, and to the kitchen table to be a checkbook, and to bed to be a Kindle. My desk was a monument to dust and clutter. It’s such a relief to have gotten rid of it, but at the same time, change takes time. Seeing a photo of your simple set up is so cheerful & reinforcing of my own choices. Thanks, Francine!

  • Kristin

    I love it! I really enjoy these little glimpses into your life. :)

  • JLouise

    The calmness and spaciousness can only encourage creativity (which shows in your blog and books!) and when you are done working everything just tucks away. I love it.

    I have an old, oak, simple table I use as a desk which houses my laptop and a wooden IKEA storage unit (two drawers which holds paper and three small drawers for pens, notes). While it works for me and is easy to keep clean, a great view would be a wonderful addition.

  • Yep–exactly like I envisioned what a workspace would be like for you. I would probably do the same if I had windows like that! In actuality, I mostly work in two places–like Julia, I work on the sofa with the laptop (and with my cat), or like JLouise I work at an old oak table (which is also my “dining room” table. If I open the front door (which has a full view storm door) I have a nice view of the front porch. The laptop is also my cookbook, my calendar, my accountant, my stationery drawer (email), and my secondary filing cabinet. It is not allowed in the bedroom, but that’s okay as it is old and needs time to shut down and cool off, just like me ;)

  • Gorgeous and oh-so-simple.

    I must start practicing yoga to strengthen tummy & back muscles, as I see ‘backache’ sitting too long on that pillow!

    We move tomorrow to a new town and no longer have living room furniture. I’ve been picturing getting/using big pillows on the floor, and now I can easily envision an office there too, thanks to you.

  • Milly

    Absolutely lovely, but it would kill me to spend so much time on the floor. Obviously you are young and much more disciplined about your yoga practice than I am. ;-)

    I do envy you those windows.

  • Maybe it’s the ‘age’ thing, but I need to have a more traditional workspace with support for my aging back. :) Of course, I do take my laptop from desk to chair to dining room table and to bed (occasionally). I change things up every so often.

    That said, the simplicity of your workspace is appealing. And I do believe the space in which we write effects the essence of our writing. It’s no wonder the magic you experience in this space is translated into your posts.

  • george

    normally i love your articles, but you lost me with this one. this style/method is completely against all ergonomics studies done over the years.

    you try to spend more than 10 min doing this and your back will snap in half. let alone the lack of wrist support, the lack of buttocks support, etc, etc.

    does it look cool? sure. is it good for you? hell no.

  • I absolutely love the simplicity of this. I currently have a clean desk, but way too many doo-dads actually attached to my computer, so I’m working on that! When I disconnect it all and sit out on the balcony to work, that is my favorite!

    Thanks so much for the sharing and the inspiration.

  • I currently have a desk with all the normal items (stapler, tape, paper clips) but I keep my laptop by the couch. I suppose that’s my real workspace.

    I’ve often considered selling my desk, but it would be so strange not having it!

  • HK

    I love it, Francine! I would do that, except my windowsills are too high if I were to sit on the floor. :/ Too bad, because I’d love to get rid of my desk!


  • Kelly

    Sigh – if only. I work in alumni relations, and I can’t see any way to reduce the amount of paper in my cube. I have no doo-dads whatsoever outside of a few drawings by my son, but I really need paper – articles, information about programs and activities at my university… I do a lot of writing and I need to have my research materials in front of me, and I usually write notes and phrases on the stuff I’ve printed out.

    If I were in a different career, I could see how I could have a more spartan workspace. I’ve been working on some fiction writing, but even so, I still have research materials, notes, etc…

  • I often choose to sit on the floor instead of in a chair or at a desk. Sometimes I even sit on the floor in front of the couch. I think a minimalist office would be a good choice for me too.

  • I love your workspace. Don’t you just love laptops? I gave up my desk last year and I just move my laptop around to wherever I want to be working. I usually sit in the kitchen where there’s a big window that lets in lots of light.

  • I love it, I don’t think I could be comfortable sitting on just a pillow but if it works for you that’s great. i would need a comfy chair instead of a pillow and I’d be good.

  • Tim

    Nice and inspiring. I would not want to work without space to rest my arms while typing and using the mouse, but nonetheless the photo immediately gives me a sense of calmness and makes me want to unclutter something :-) Can we have that photo in full resolution pleeeease?

  • Now that’s a true minimalist–I love it!

  • Inspirational :)
    Like you, I never used my desk as a kid, I preferred to read and do any homework on my bed.
    I only started using a desk when I was a student and got a computer. I still read and wrote notes in bed.
    I love to see these bits of your home, I know that with a kid we will not have a super sparse home like yours, but it still inspires me to reduce our things!

  • Very, very nice!!! I love it! Your minimalist workspace is so serene and peaceful. Pictures always helps us imagine different possibilities, for working, living, creating, eating, etc. For if it can work for one person, it can certainly work for others.

  • Kim

    I spent the morning clearing out my “office area.” Then as a reward I decided to come read your blog.

  • Lucy

    I love it! So serene and peaceful.

  • WickedCake

    I can only dream of a workspace so simple! 3D computer work requires a desktop and so much more, oh well, I can always admire.

  • Duncan

    Hi Francine.
    I love your photo series of your living spaces.
    This work space of yours is truly inspirational.
    I have one very important question for you regarding your digital life.
    Do you have a backup routine for your computer that preserves your important documents?
    I only ask as I have been through the trauma of losing digital photos etc from a hard disk drive failure.
    Keep up the good work, my wife and I appreciate it.

  • Nicole

    Thanks for showing us your amazing workspace :)

  • Mrs. G.

    I’m so jealous! The only thing I would change is I would use a Japanese floor chair with a back on it for support and comfort.

  • sRa

    I would love a post on minimalist financial/life/investment/insurance/tax filing system. I get BURIED in filing and never know what to keep or what to keep where. I’ve redone my files 3 times and I still have 6+ piles of paperwork lying around. I don’t know if it’s my right-brainedness or what but I can not get a handle on it.

  • henry

    here is what i did in the long run i hate the desk and the sofa and other places trying to work along with a haveing a big tv system in the front room ..

    so i took the things i liked from a set of picture i had seen and went to a person i knew and he made me a combo tv stand with a support pole for the flat screen tv and dvd player and cable tv box on side and on the other side he made a complete multi levelshelf desktop computer system with diff heights shelfs system to hold the imac unit with combo printer and scanner and cable modem and ipad stand and keyboard unit shelf with mouse tray to the off side ..

    the whole unit was design to be broken down and moved as it need for once you remove the items from the stations on it it will break down into pieces for travel ..i love it for i use my office chair with a foot rest and i watch tv as need ..move the chair over to the computer side and it a workstation ..sound crazy but it works for me

    i know that cable tv and a modem is not really beening a minimalist but i enjoy the basic item of life and the watching a dvd or tv show here and there ..

  • I just found your blog, and have been spending the last forty-five minutes browsing through your posts. So far, everything is inspiring, practical, and well-written!

    My only disagreements concerning your workspace are that I often feel I need an entirely “other” place to go and get work done. Right now, my husband and I are in a 1-bedroom, so I’m often working on the couch or at our dining room table, but when I really need a change of environment I opt for the library.

    Also, I would get leg cramps sitting on the floor for longer than ten minutes (how did I manage it in kindergarten?), so I’d definitely need a chair at least.

    Of course, these are just my personal preferences. I envy your floor-to-ceiling windows! I’m glad you’ve found a way to take advantage of that space.

  • […] my desk, all I saw was a mess. There was no space for me and my creative agenda there. Then I saw Miss Minimalist’s workspace and I was smitten. (Now, I’m not quite as minimal as she is, but I’m pretty minimal, as […]

  • Forgive me for jumping on board so late, but I just I discovered your blog recently (and just read The Joy of Less–I took your suggestion about picking a base color for my wardrobe, and it has revolutionized my closet!)

    Anyway, I find the simplicity of this workspace so inspiring. Being on the floor is grounding but the huge window is uplifting–a great combination.

    I’m looking forward to following your blog now that I’ve found it =)

  • Francine, I just love this setup! So serene and clean and simple. I have bad knees and a bad back, so I don’t think I could ever pull this off, but it looks beautiful and I would love to do it. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into the place where the magic happens. Cheers!

  • Megan

    I know this is late to join in but i have a question for everyone and didn’t know where to post it. I run a health business from home and have it as minimal as possible but have a question about my qualification certificates, i have 5 on the wall and wishing it was just 1 degree instead of 5 diplomas. They are in black frames and it bothers me that the wall looks cluttered. Does anyone have any ideas on how to make them look neat? I thought of taking them out of the frames and just laminating them but would that look tacky or unprofessional? Any ideas appreciated:)

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  • […] still between your infrequent writing sessions?  I found one blog where the writer shares her workspace, and while this won’t work for everyone, myself included, it’s interesting to think […]

  • Teresa

    Love the bright light!

  • lynn c maust

    I could never sit on a cushion at the age of 71…..and no back support? Mercy!

  • Dylan

    This would have been a great set-up when I was in my 20s, but I’m in my 50s and I need a chair when I’m working at my computer. But even back in my 20s/30s, I spent 9 years in professional school, and sitting on a pillow studying would have destroyed my back and knees. Back then there were no computers, though, so writing and studying while sitting on a pillow just wasn’t happening.

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