Decorating Your Office Walls

Decorating Your Office Walls | CorporetteBeyond your diploma, what are the best ways to decorate the walls of your office while keeping a professional-looking workspace? Reader V wonders…

Hi! Any thoughts on the best wall decor to send a professional image? I currently have a lot of blank space — I want to jazz it up, and I also want to make sure it contributes to my office having a professional decor. Thanks!

Great question, V! We’ve talked a lot about office decor in the past, including decorating office walls and inappropriate office decor — but not in a while.  Some thoughts:

  • Go for framed artwork.  I think you can get away with a lot of stuff if it’s framed (or not meant to be framed, like stretched canvas, etc.).  It’s not college any more — no more ticky-tack.  Nails are ok; just follow the office protocols for hanging art. You will be shocked and alarmed at how much framing costs when you start looking into it — we once paid 20€ for a painting in Paris and $400 to have it framed here in the US — but it can add so much if it’s done interestingly.  Look for Groupon or Amazon Local deals for framing deals in your neighborhood, or know the sizes of standard, readily accessible frames.  I also feel like there are so many places to get pre-framed art, fairly affordably, such as Joss & Main, Fine Art America, and more; you can also check out Craigslist and Etsy.
  • Consider what you see versus what your visitor sees.  In my old office I had screenshots from my favorite movie (where he’s on a raft looking at the moon) printed without pixelation and framed with a wide matting — it faced my desk (and the visitor’s back) so it brought me peace, but wasn’t too obtrusive for visitors.  I also had framed family pictures (back then, just me and my parents) at the far end of my office on a filing cabinet, facing me. On the flip side, you may want to put your diploma or awards somewhere a visitor can view them.  (I actually never had my diplomas framed — don’t even know where they are!)
  • Think a bit about color theory.  Do you want to be energized by your space (reds, yellows) — or calmed down by it (blues)? How many visitors will you have, and how do you want them to feel?

Readers, how have you decorated your office walls?  Did you do it all at once or did it slowly decorate itself organically?  What was your favorite addition to your office decor? 

(Pictured above: NY Office, originally uploaded to Flickr by Matt Majewski.)



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  1. Kat, this is such an interesting thread, b/c we recentley moved over here to 3rd avenue, and I go to redecorate my office (except for the desk and chair, which I took from the manageing partner). I decided to go with a MODERN look, and instead of getting a bunch of dumm no-name art, I got a catalog of Art Poster’s from and got 4 framed FRENCH IMPRESIONIST’s, includeing Toulouse LeTrek, Monee, Degas, and Renoir. Because Rosa and I were ballet dancer’s as children, I got a very pretty picture of young ballet dancer’s. The RENOIR was of a pretty littel girl, and the ORIGINAL is at the Metropolitan Gallery on 5th Avenue. I have a very Pretty MONEE of some very pretty garden’s and the Toulouse LeTrek is a caberet scene where a man is stareing at a woman, who’s boobie’s are at least covered! I get to look at them all day! YAY!!!!!

    I recomend poster art but you MUST have a theme. It is NOT good just to hang your diploma’s. Why waste wall space prooving that I went to college and law school and passed the bar. Those are BORING! You need color on your wall, not diploma’s. Beside’s, by the time cleint’s come into my office, they are already on the HOOK and do NOT need to be impresed with my diploma’s. YAY!!!!

  2. I am a Big Law mid-level associate in a fairly conservative (though non-NYC) office, and have added many decorations to my office. I tried to add things that could be conversation starters and tell visitors about me, without being over-the-top. For example: Framed photographs of landscapes close to where I grew up hanging on the wall, framed photographs of my family on my desk, framed diplomas and awards, and one piece of brightly colored art that is the first thing people see when they enter my office. I have also decorated with a bamboo plant, and various knick knacks on my bookshelf, many which I have gathered from various conferences or other work-related events. I have often been complemented on my office (I also keep it very tidy) and have never felt like the decorations were “too much.” Reminders of my family, art, and hometown also keep me happy on hard days in the office.

    And try out Some great prints and photos if you don’t even know where to start.

  3. I work in a large cubicle with tall, fabric-covered *metal* walls… so decor must be affixed with STRONG MAGNETS (because the fabric makes it so that weaker magnets will not work). Anyone in the same boat who has tips & tricks to share??

    I did buy a clear blotter for my desk, and placed a piece of artistic “buy by the sheet” gift wrap beneath it… that had a nice effect for my desktop!

  4. I work for a non-profit, but my office is decorated with photos from my travels, a few inspirational/funny sayings (which are great conversation starters), and some landscape artwork. Many of my co-workers say they like my office because it looks inviting, so I think the decor works.

    I have a co-worker who has put up heavy drapes in his office. It looks terrible. It’s like he’s trying to make it look like his living room rather than an office. I also think keeping an office relatively uncluttered and clean always makes it look better.

  5. I have gotten some nice framed and unframed prints from Society6 dot com, which someone here had recommended for I-phone cases. 20 x 200 also has some wonderful art, although its selection and supply are more limited since it sells limited editions of original works (and the ones I like always seem to be sold out in any size I can afford).

    As to the content and theme, it can be nice to tie the décor not only to the location, your home area or your personal interests but also to your work or the work of your company or firm. E.g., I do union-side labor law and the public areas of our office are decorated with labor-themed posters and prints. I have various pieces of art in my private office but also a large print of an 1890s May Day poster by the German artist Walter Crane, which is very beautiful and colorful but also ties in to what we do here. For techies, there are amazing artworks that incorporate circuit boards, as another example.

    My problem though is that the most significant design feature of my office is my messy desk. :/

    • Meg Murry :

      How is the quality of the frames from society6 ? I have been strongly considering getting some of the framed prints from Geometry Daily ( ) – the simple geometric prints appeal to the math nerd in me, while still being aesthetically pleasing to non-nerds (I think – non-nerds please weigh in). This is the first time I’ve had my own office long term, and I don’t have customers/clients in my office ever – an occasional co-worker stops in, and you can see in part of my office from the reception area, but for the most part we only have visitors in our conference room – so I don’t need to worry about decorating for anyone but myself.

      • I’ve only bought one or two items from Society 6 preframed; I got the basic white, nothing fancy, but they looked good. You also can buy most or all of their prints — including the ones in your link, they’re great! I’m the opposite of a math nerd and I really like many of them — unframed, if you want to do it yourself.

  6. I’m an associate at a big law firm in Canada with (fortunately) my own office. I love my office decor! In addition to hanging several framed photos from my travels, I have added a living picture: It is easy to maintain and does not flower, so there aren’t any offensive smells. I get lots of compliments on the living wall and it allows me to have plants in my office without cluttering my desk/floor. Win-Win!

    • Wow, those are amazing! And they would work great in my (former) house full of cats, where the only plants are in hanging baskets where they can’t reach. Will be forwarding to my soon-to-be ex who has custody of the cats.

  7. In the U.S., the craft stores Michaels & some of the fabric/craft stores Jo-Ann’s do custom-framing. They’re big chains, & they very frequently have 40% off coupons that you can find online or thru their mailing list (sign up w/an email account you don’t use often, tho’ really they don’t send much spam). Frequent sales too. They also sell ready-made frames & mats if you want to DIY. Wide range of styles, quality, & prices, so you’re bound to find s’thing suitable.

  8. My office has my degree framed, my law license framed, another framed print of a painting I love, a couple of framed paintings my kids have made over the years, framed pictures of my kids on my desk, a plant, a tiffany lamp, and a couple of other art pieces by my kids tacked on a bulletin board. I also have thank you notes from clients displayed on my bookshelf. I keep my office very clean and organized and my co-workers have all commented on how nice it is. I do not ever have clients in my office (we have conference rooms, etc for that) otherwise, I might not have as much kid art.

  9. Can I get some advice about hanging diplomas in the office? I work at a small investment advisory company and have my own office. I’ve been told that I’m welcome to hang my diplomas (BS and MBA), however I only see one other framed diploma in the entire company. I’m proud of the accomplishment but don’t want to seem like I’m flaunting. Thoughts? Also, for those of you that framed diplomas, did you frame the actual diploma or make a copy or…?

    • Late to respond, but since no one else has . . .

      I’m in law, and pretty much everyone here has their diplomas and/or licenses framed. But if it’s not the norm where you are, I probably would spend the money on something you like better. As décor, diplomas are boring even if they have nice frames and mats. (Mine are above my credenza and after 20+ years I am sooo tired of looking at them.)

      My advice might be different, though, if for some reason your school or degrees would be real conversation starters or get you points with clients. In most cases, probably not.

      But if you do opt to have them framed, you definitely frame the original. It looks nicer (they’re usually engraved or have some kind of raised seal) and keeps them protected.

    • I wanted to frame a ( color ) copy of my MBA diploma, but was told they (the diplomas) were copyrighted, and the copy shop wouldn’t do it. So I had mine framed professionally, cost about $200. I’m in retail and MBA’s are rare in my field but I have my diploma on my wall, I’m proud of it and I worked hard for it.

    • Really late to conversation, but I would not frame an MBA. We lawyers frequently frame our law degree but that is a reflection of the culture and nature of the job. You MUST have a law degree to practice as a lawyer and your value as a lawyer is fundamentally premised on and associated with the prestige of your law school, throughout the entire length of your career. (I worked in business before law and it really is bizarre) But, in business, you don’t need an MBA to be a CEO, CFO, director, or Chairman. And, in fact, some of the most successful business people never got an MBA and just learned coming up the ranks. So, I wouldn’t advertise my MBA because it may send the wrong message. Google commercials about Fed Ex and MBA. You’ll see what I mean. (Guy thought he was the bomb because he had an MBA but admin had to show him how easy it was to send a Fed Ex package. It’s poking fun at the overinflated importance an MBA grad puts on their degree).

      • I’m a director of development at a 50 person legal aid nonprofit (Boston area for reference). All the attorneys hang their undergrad/law diplomas, and some paralegals hang diplomas/certificates as well. Is it appropriate for me to hang my BA and MA diplomas? Both are from top schools. The other consideration is I’m in an open office. I have 2 walls in a corner, but the other side is open. I do see potential donors, and I’d like to show them my credentials if I’m asking for $$.

  10. Anonymous Associate :

    I have a lot of random things in my office. I travel a lot and try to bring back artwork from the countries I visit. In addition to diplomas, I have a lot of brightly colored African and Caribbean art on the walls. I also have some stoneware, blown glass flowers, and small carved animals on my bookshelves since I work nearly exclusively electronically. I have a conference table in addition to my desk, and have some lumbar support pillows there for some color. I also like to keep fresh flowers in my office as a sign of life.

    My office is in bright colors, focusing on orange. I get a ton of sunlight and have blond wood furniture, so it is a warm, welcoming environment.

    That being said, I am on the west coast and not at a conservative firm.

  11. Junior Atty :

    I’m a junior associate at a Big Law firm in a pretty small city/small office. FWIW, there aren’t many junior associates in my office, and not many female attorneys either. I bought two pretty large rustic paintings of cows, done by a local artist. Are farm animals too juvenile or unprofessional?

  12. One of the partners at my office has his law school diploma framed in a frame where the mat has two “spaces” in it– one for the diploma, and one for a (small) watercolor of his law school (example in comment). I always really admire it. Has anyone else ever seen this? Thinking about getting this done as well (eventually).

    • Kinda like this, but with the picture in landscape over the diploma:

      • I have this in my office for my undergrad one and am looking for a good photo for the law school one. I think it looks great and it’s large so it takes up a lot of wall space so less decorating. I got the undergrad one from the campus bookstore but they sell the same style on the website that Meg March referenced.

    • Late to reply–but I have this with my undergrad diploma and I love it.

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