Betsy Helmuth (@BetsyHelmuth) is an interior designer & decorator in New York City. Her company, Affordable Interior Design, offers, well, affordable interior design. Over the years, she’s designed rooms in over 1,000 apartments, as well as many offices and home offices.

In this conversation, we discuss some simple steps that we creative pros can take to improve our workspaces — both while renting an office and in fixing up our home office. We cover lighting, colour, shelving, storage, and other little “hacks” for setting up shop and enjoying a happy, productive, creative work-day.

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Affordable Interior Design, office

Offices of Affordable Interior Design, Brooklyn, NY

Prescott's workstation

Prescott’s 2015 workstation. Note the tight cable management.

Show Notes & Links

  • Betsy is the founder of Affordable Interior Design
  • She believes you can “maximise your productivity and creativity by changing the atmosphere in which you work”
  • When looking for an office, look for the basics — location, space, costs
  • Also look for a building with similar businesses for future collaboration
  • Many companies overlook their interior office design — they look good online, but it doesn’t translate to the real world
  • Barbara Corcoran says to “overextend yourself” in terms of rent. It creates hustle.
  • “If you build it, they will come.” Betsy applies this to empty desks in your office.

“It's more expensive to move than to pay a little bit more each month.”

—Betsy Helmuth

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“A rented space needs to have some home-office flavor.”

—Betsy Helmuth

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  • Get an office near the bathroom so people pass by
  • Put your logo on the door and welcome visitors
  • Add colour, design your space
  • Design your office for the people who use it “350 days per year”
  • Try to arrange a good view in your work area
  • Match your dog bed to your logo — simple colour matching goes a long way
  • Turn off your overhead lights and use hanging pendant lights
  • Sub-lease empty desks in your office to other creatives and independent pros
  • Choose an office that’s close to your home — otherwise you’ll just want to work from home.
  • Arrange your bedroom work area so you’re not facing the desk directly from bed
  • Keep things tidy to avoid extra stress on your mind
  • Reduce glare using diffuse window treatments
  • To get true colour, go outside with your paint swatches. To see how it looks in a room, paint a portion of the wall.
  • Avoid light blue or sage green for an office, they’re too relaxing.
  • Use pops of yellow or orange, they’re stimulating and energizing.


  • Wear headphones even if you’re not listening to anything. That trains co-workers not to interrupt.
  • Keep one desk photo or screensaver of your family/pets

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About the author: Prescott Perez-Fox

Prescott Perez-Fox is a graphic designer, brand developer, and educator with 18+ years experience in branding, packaging, graphic design, and web design. He runs The Busy Creator.

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