240 Crafting a Beautiful and Functional Workspace with Tasha Agruso

Crafting a Beautiful and Functional Workspace with Tasha Agruso


In this episode, I welcome back Tasha Agruso, the founder of Kaleidoscope Living, for a discussion on creating functional and beautiful workspaces. Tasha's expertise has helped me transform my own workspace over the years and she shares practical tips for optimizing both dedicated workspaces and makeshift areas within the home, emphasizing the power of intentional design to enhance productivity and foster Work + Life harmony. 

In this episode, we cover:

  • Importance of crafting workspaces that are functional and beautiful
  • Personal experiences shaping preferences for workspace design
  • Significance of considering how different elements, such as lighting and decor, can influence productivity and well-being.

Mentioned in the episode:
The Beautiful Home, Beautiful Life event is happening May 7-9, 2024
Sign up here: www.msumrell--kaleidoscope-living.thrivecart.com/2024-lifetime-access-bhbl/

Connect with Tasha:
IG: @tasha.kaleidoscope and @kaleidoscopeliving
FB: Kaleidoscope Living
Pintrest: @kaleidoscopeliving
YouTube: TashaKaleidoscopeLiving
Website: www.kaleidoscopeliving.com

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Megan: 1:09
Friends, it is that time of year again where I get to bring back one of my favorite guests on the show, tasha Agruso, who is the founder of Kaleidoscope Living, and I love the conversation that we got to have today all around how to create a functional but beautiful workspace that will help you be productive, be the best version of yourself and truly achieve work-life harmony. I continue to learn from Tasha every single year. I have made a number of small but incredibly powerful changes in my own workspace at home thanks to what I have learned from her. So let's go ahead and get things started. Welcome to the Work-Life Harmony podcast.

Megan: 1:54
I'm your host, megan Sumrall. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner teaching all things time management, organization and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife and, just like you, I'm juggling, hashtag all the things while running multiple businesses and a family. Guess what? You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time planning and organization, to skyrocket your productivity so you can have work-life harmony. If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you, and if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my Work-Life Harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram, at Megan Sumrall, with the word harmony, and my team will send it right over.

Megan: 2:46
Hey everyone, welcome back to Work-Life Harmony.

Megan: 2:49
I have back a veteran guest, my dear friend Tasha Agruso, who finally, after all these years, we just recently got to meet in real life for the first time, which was astounding for the fact that we're like it's been what three, four years, and we couldn't believe we'd never met in person, but Tasha is.

Megan: 3:08
I'm going to let you introduce yourself, but we're going to preempt here what we're going to be talking about today. Tasha is my go-to when it comes to beautifying my home, and I'm here to tell you I have zero if there were a way to say negative skills when it comes to decorating my home, that is me, but I have learned so much from you and the founder of the Beautiful Home, beautiful Life Summit, which I learn from every year, that we're going to be talking about today as well, and today we're really going to be diving into creating a functional but still beautiful place in your home for work, and we're going to define work before we dive into this. So, tasha, would you tell everyone about yourself a little backstory here, and then we will get going.

Tasha: 3:56
Yes, and thank you for having me back. It's always a pleasure to chat with you and it was so great to meet you in person. I feel like we've known each other forever. So, if anyone is new to me, I am the founder of Kaleidoscope Living and it is just a destination for lovers of colorful home interiors, interior design, diy enthusiasts. It's my mission to help everyone create a home they love, no matter their budget, because I believe that it's such an important thing to do. I care very deeply about it.

Tasha: 4:29
I think I have shared this with you before, but I grew up in a house that was just.

Tasha: 4:34
It was what I would call a chaotic environment, because my mom suffered from a couple of different mental illnesses and, though she did her best, her moods were up and down and all over the place and our house reflected that. As you might expect, there was just a lot of disorder in the home and I discovered at a very early age, which I'm so grateful for that in the face of that chaos and that unpredictability, I could turn my room, my bedroom, into kind of a place to retreat, reset, really calibrate my mood, independently from what was happening in the house, so that I really had a lot more control over my ability to feel calm and happy. And I say I'm lucky because I think that I am lucky to have learned the impact of my physical environment on my personal well-being at a young age. Most people do not learn it that young if ever, and I love that you bring that up because really up until I met you, I always wanted to have a home that looked nice.

Megan: 5:49
But my goal was to have a home that looked nice, meaning maybe copied something in a magazine or that again, because this is not my zone of genius, but I never approached it as a where inside my home. I want to create a space where I feel in each room in our house the best I can be, that it really becomes a haven and not just a beautiful thing to share with people and really making that mind shift through you.

Megan: 6:22
We have made so many subtle changes throughout our home for us, purely for us as a family, not to have my house look a certain way to other people and I'm telling you, the whole atmosphere in our house is just different. So thank you for giving us that gift, because I know you help so many others do it as well, oh, that's what it's all about.

Tasha: 6:46
You're nailing it. It's the way it looks is part of it, because feeling good in your space is impacted by how you feel when you look around at the things in it. But, at the end of the day, design and decorating should come down to feeling good. It should be about primarily how it makes you feel, and a component of that is how it looks.

Megan: 7:14
Yeah, oh, and see, that's why I unashamedly, all the seasons, pull out all my gnomes, like they make them feel good, right?

Tasha: 7:22
Yes, it's all. That's what it is about. That's why it matters.

Megan: 7:26
Yeah, yeah. So let's dive into this conversation of how do we create a beautiful but functional workspace in our home. And before we dive into this, I want to make sure anyone listening understands this isn't just a conversation for someone who has a corporate job where they have a home office, or is an entrepreneur working from home. Every woman out there, let's be honest, does some form of work from our home, whether it's for someone else, for ourselves or in service to our family. Right, absolutely. When you're sitting down to fill out the forms and pay the bills and figure out the meal plan and the calendar, whatever the things are, we are all doing a form of work in our home.

Megan: 8:05
Yeah, and I think the go-to for so many women, if they don't have a set office, which took me years to have is I used to quote work from the dining room table. No, I'm sorry, or a lot of women, it's work from the kitchen table. So first let's talk about if we don't have a full room in our house to set up as a functional, beautiful workspace, because I think that's the easier one to tackle. Almost what can we do in our homes to create a space where we need to get work done. That doesn't just feel like we're squeezing it in around everybody else.

Tasha: 8:38
I would say the first step is and this is true for any room, but it's, I think, particularly crucial for a workspace, a place where you want to be productive, let's call it that is, to think about how you need to feel for that to be true. Okay, so, for example, I want to feel calm and serene when I'm in my bedroom, because it takes me some time to wind down at the end of the day. So that goal is going to inform certain color choices that will help me achieve a feeling calm and serene. That is not how I want to feel in my workspace. Okay, because for me to be productive, I need to feel energized and motivated.

Tasha: 9:27
So I would say the first step is think. I think that's probably true for most people, but maybe not. Maybe there are people who are most productive when they feel incredibly calm and centered and relaxed Not me. So you need to think for yourself how am I feeling when I'm at my most productive? Are you feeling excited and energized and like you could keep going for eight hours? That's how I want to feel in my workspace, but that answer might be different for you and you have to think about that first.

Megan: 9:58
I just had the biggest goal, because when the weather is nice, my husband's always shocked. He's like I thought I'd come down and find you working on the screen and porch, which is 10 paces from my office, working on the screen and porch, which is 10 paces from my office, and every time I've tried it it's failed. But I'm just now realizing that space is my haven, is my wind down. Anytime I try and work out there, nothing gets done and I couldn't figure out why. And now I'm like oh, there it is.

Tasha: 10:26
People really underestimate it. But that's a perfect example. Your physical surroundings affect how you feel in the space, and big companies use it to influence us. There's no mistake that fast food restaurants use red and yellow for their restaurants, and we can use that same impact in our own homes. But you have to be smart about it, right? You don't just want to. That's why you just have to think through the process. How do I want to feel? So I would say that's step one. So let's say that the majority of people because I think this is likely the case, let's say the majority of people want to feel energized and motivated in their whatever this workspace is. So then you, I would say, if you don't have a dedicated workspace, you need to think which space do I already have in my home where this is how I feel when I'm in it? Okay For you, megan, that is not your screened-in porch.

Megan: 11:30
No, it is not, and I don't want to turn it into that either.

Tasha: 11:34
But maybe that's how you always feel when you're in your kitchen and you already have a kitchen table there, or a lot of kitchens still have built-in little desks. Little desks, yeah, Okay, great, Then that might be the perfect place for you to sit. But if you know, I know, believe me, I know there are restrictions at physical space and so if somebody is listening thinks, well, the only realistic place I have to set up my workspace is in my bedroom, and my bedroom is very calming and serene. There are that's not ideal, but there are still things you can do.

Megan: 12:14
I see people put like screens around the work area versus sleep area or something to try and differentiate.

Tasha: 12:20
Yeah, you can hang ceiling tracks to hang floor to ceiling curtains so that you can pull it closed when you're not using it. But also, even let's say you set up a small desk in a not ideal space like the whole vibe of the room isn't ideal you can still surround, you can create a workspace, even just with small items that can still heavily influence how you feel when that is your immediate surroundings. Simple thing it could be colorful post-it notes. It could be that you use. You know your planner that sits on your desk is colorful or it's colors. I use the term colorful, it's so subjective. To me that means vibrant colors. To you it means something else. Whatever colors you light and then invoke the feeling you want, even if it's just this is where you sit to, as you said, do your meal house. And he still files even little things like the file folders. They don't have to be basic manila folders. Her phrase of sparking joy that's what it's all about. I would just tweak it to say sparks energy or whatever that goal, motivation.

Tasha: 13:53
Yes, whatever that target feeling you're trying to achieve is you can find things that evoke that feeling, and it doesn't have to be an entire room or space that otherwise makes you feel. That way you can make do with your little nook. Just make intentional decisions. Don't think this is what it is. I'm just going to feel tired and sleepy every time I sit here. It doesn't have to be that way. There's still plenty of things you can do to influence it.

Megan: 14:23
That's where I loved before I had my full office. Now the journey of my workspace in my house has been a big one for, I don't know, 18 years or so. For a while I was still in this room, but I only had one little corner, so I had a corner desk and the rest of the room was living room, piano, all of that. So it was like what is this room? We don't know. It depends on where you're sitting, but when I was in my little corner my back was to the rest of the room, so I had a window and I just had this corner desk and that was it. But I would wheel out one of those little three-tiered doors with my supplies even down to.

Megan: 14:59
I got to where I was putting up a specific picture, on that little desk and in that little tiny three-square space I cranked stuff out. Yeah, and now I'm realizing. I didn't know why it worked the way it worked, but now, because of what you said realizing. That's why, because the rest of the room did not motivate me to do anything, but I didn't see it when I was in my little nook.

Tasha: 15:22
You're in your zone. Yeah, it was where.

Megan: 15:24
I sat.

Tasha: 15:24
Yeah, a way to think about it is cubicles.

Megan: 15:31
Just picture a traditional cubicle.

Tasha: 15:32
Oh, I spent slugged some time in those. No, hasn't? I can picture them so clearly. Oh yeah, and it's really funny because back in the day I was an attorney and I worked in a traditional office environment and I did have a dedicated office, but the support staff were in cubicles, and it was always fascinating to me, because you have the people who take the time to personalize their space and make it feel good to them and you have the people that don't.

Tasha: 16:00
I don't know if they don't think it's worth the time, I'm not really sure, but I can tell you and I really had never thought about this until we started having this conversation the best support staff, the support staff that everyone wanted or was jealous of, envied your legal assistant is the best. They were the ones who had personalized workspaces. They were productive, they were more happy to be doing what they were doing because they felt at, they felt at home when they were at work. Yeah, there's really no other way to put it. And that's the thing I think. So many people put workspaces on the back burner. Right, because there's so many other spaces in our home, because it's just a job right or it's just whatever I want to spend my time, but we're spending, yeah, a lot of time.

Megan: 18:00
Some of us we're spending a large portion of our life in those environments. Now let's say you do have a dedicated space. Thankfully, I had some professionals help get mine started, but I had to go in and make it mine. It's still evolving For folks that have a dedicated space. What are some of the top tips that you find there to help it be very functional but still very personal?

Tasha: 18:33
but still very personal, I would say one of the easiest things that most people don't think about is lighting. So I would really encourage people to. I do have can lights in my office and I do keep them on. But if you can have a lamp or some secondary lighting somewhere else that makes it feel a bit softer like home and a little bit less corporate, even in your own house, that alone will make a huge difference.

Megan: 18:56
It's gonna and like my husband and I don't agree on lighting, and so I love that we don't. We used to share a workspace, and so it was this constant battle of what the living that it should be in there, so now we just get to have them the way we like them. Yeah it really.

Tasha: 19:08
It really matters. So think about your lighting and if it doesn't feel great, tweak it. Like I like a very bright space. My husband makes fun of me and says you could operate in your office.

Megan: 19:22
My husband tells me to turn down the sun. That's what he calls it. God, could you turn down the?

Tasha: 19:26
sun. Yeah, so it's not right for everybody, but you and I clearly know, and I remember saying to him we were changing the bulbs and the can lights in my office and I was like I want them brighter, I want the brightest bright option. And he was like it feels like a hospital and I said it makes me feel awake Okay, and I need to feel awake when I'm working, but I can still balance that with the lamp I have in the corner. It just makes it feel a little more comforting. Yeah, so don't underestimate the lighting. And then I really feel like, from a design perspective, you should spend just as much, if not more, energy on thoughtfully designing and creating a workspace that you love as you would any other room in your house.

Tasha: 20:14
People are willing to put in the time and effort in something like a family room, maybe even a bedroom. Common spaces tend to get the most attention, which makes sense. It's where we all spend our time and you want to hang out there and feel good. But I can tell you that my days I spend more hours in my office by myself than I spent at least a weekdays than I spend in the family spaces in my home. So don't shortcut the process or underestimate the importance, because your entire family may not enjoy the space. Oh my gosh. Yes.

Megan: 20:55
Yeah, and when I finally got into this space, I was trying to keep it to where everyone else liked it as well. And finally, when I realized I'm like this is my office, yeah, I get to build a space for me, and my family will tease me about some stuff that I have in here and I'm like I don't care.

Tasha: 21:13
I don't care, this is my space. Yeah, you should be a little bit selfish with it. And if you're just creating a zone in a room, you should be selfish with that zone. It is okay, be selfish. The other thing I would say is so you don't just want to throw it together? I guess is my, it takes time. Think through it, think about the things that you love. Shop your house to bring. If there are things you love in other places of your house that your family doesn't really appreciate or puts up with, put it in your office, put it in your, put it in your work zone. So, along those same lines, just because it's a workspace does not mean every item in it needs to be strictly utilitarian. This is another, I would say, mistake that I see. Function and usefulness in an office is very important. It's important in any space. But it doesn't mean that just because it's an office or work zone that you shouldn't have some things there that are just pretty because you like them.

Megan: 22:29
That just spark joy yeah.

Tasha: 22:31
Perfect example art on the walls. Okay, if you can find functional art that serves more than one purpose, fantastic. But not in my current workspace. I had to switch rooms in the house but in my last workspace I had a giant and a giant gallery wall of just art that I loved, above the I remember that yeah, above the tables that we used for like packing and shipping. There was no function or purpose to them, but I didn't need that wall space for anything else, so I filled it chock full of some of my favorite colorful art pieces that, frankly, my family doesn't love. They were. It was like a top 20 Tasha's hits of artwork that I loved, and that's what it should be right, it was great. I loved it.

Tasha: 23:27
In the space I'm in now I don't really have that luxury of having a chunk of wall space that doesn't need to serve some function. So I don't have that gallery wall anymore and that's okay. But I have a wall calendar that serves as functional art for me and it takes up pretty much a whole wall. So to me it still visually looks pretty, it sparks joy every time I see it and it serves a dual purpose in that it's super functional, but don't feel like the only thing you can put on the wall in an office is a calendar or a tool that is inspirational, motivational quotes.

Tasha: 24:07
It doesn't need to be a poster of a golf course or a putting hole. Leadership yes.

Megan: 24:16
Oh, and it's funny, one of the things I've leaned into the last couple of years, thanks to you, I get antsy for change.

Megan: 24:23
I like change and that's always been hard for me at home because I'm like I'm going to buy the sofa, I'm going to have this thing forever. Oh yeah, in my office if you're watching the video, you'll see I have this tiny little loop, yeah, circular thing on my wall. It's maybe I don't know two and a half feet by two and a half feet, circle, with little shelves, yeah. And I change out what's on those shelves for holidays and season. So like right now it's springtime, I had a bunch of Eastery stuff on it and it's just got one, two, three, five small little shelves and right now it's just all fun bee objects, and then I will change that out come July with all my flag stuff. But I felt like I never had, I just never thought to be able to do those things, make small changes Again, with the sole purpose of sparking joy for myself in an environment where I spend a good chunk of time.

Tasha: 25:14
Yeah, even just jumping back to what we were just looking around, my desk Like even my highlighters and pens are their colors that I like. This is the littlest thing, but you're gonna have to buy pens anyway, so I like the way these look sitting on my desk, they. So, even if I only had a corner in a space, looking at this would help me feel energized and the way I want to feel. So it doesn't always have to be some big, huge thing, it doesn't have to be paint on the wall the thing that makes you feel how you need to feel to be at your most productive, and that will help. Frankly, whatever you need to do, even if you love what you're doing, there's always things that feel like a slog, which is I don't like doing. I don't like reconciling my bank accounts, megan. I hate it. But you know what, if I feel good in my space, I'm going to just power through and get to the next and maybe you're using the pens that you like, or like filing paper.

Megan: 26:12
I hate it, but all my files are now pink and gray and they look pretty and so, yeah, I will show you a great example.

Tasha: 26:20
I had to. I don't like tech stuff. You're probably way more patient with it than I am but with the summit coming up, I really had to figure out. There was like a tech stack, if you will, and I had. I realized, tasha, that you were like spinning in circles. You have got to. I know I did not want to pause and chart it out, but I knew I needed to and I made it pretty pretty. Yeah, it's little things like that. If I'm gonna have to pause and do this, I'm gonna make it look cute and it, that little, just minor thing, made it more bearable for me to get through the fact that you just showed that and shared your story from childhood.

Megan: 27:02
The other thing that I've learned from you is the importance of allowing my daughter to have that as well, because, thinking back to last Christmas, everything on her wish list for the most part were matching things for her desk in her room, the matching pens that matched the paper clips To her having a vibe. I wasn't. I was not like that at her age. I didn't see that. But she knows. She just intrinsically knows that yeah, and if I had not learned what I learned from you, I would have been like this is ridiculous, let's just go get the school supplies. But it really makes a difference for her. So I've had to learn to step back and within budget, obviously.

Megan: 27:40
Yes for her. So I've had to learn to step back and within budget. Obviously, yes, this is your space and we have some rules in terms of tidiness, but you get to build it in a way that and I don't think I would have been as just, totally comfortable and open to that if I hadn't learned what I've learned about the underlying how this affects us mentally so much, and so I just I can't thank you enough. You mentioned the summit. Tell everyone what the deal is with Beautiful Home, beautiful Life Summit. What year is this for you? This is my fourth year participating.

Tasha: 28:11
So you're one of the favorites, so we've asked you back every year with great pleasure. I'm so grateful that you have said yes. So, yeah, this is the fifth annual Beautiful Home, beautiful Life Summit. This year it is May 7th through the 9th and basically it's a gathering of experts like yourself who are committed and passionate about teaching women, busy women how to declutter, organize and decorate their homes. All with this underlying purpose let's everybody have a home they love so that they can really live their best lives.

Megan: 28:50
What I love about your summit is you cover all those categories. This isn't just a come decorate your home. I have learned, I learn new things every year from different speakers. I've learned new software to try out that I've been able to test and play with to decide do I want to go digital or not. I've learned new decluttering strategies. I've learned the whole reverse organizing strategy. There's so many things I learn every single year from this. And the cool thing is, guys, we've got the link here below in the show notes for you to go ahead and sign up. It is free for you to join. I buy the all access pass every year because I know I can't get through all the training in time, so I would recommend just do that out of the gate, so then you can map out your journey and take the time that you want through this. Yeah, how many people have you served through this summit now?

Tasha: 29:37
It's been. We've had at least 40,000 women each year, so at this point we could hit what? The 200,000. I'm terrible at math.

Megan: 29:46
Yeah, and you could even cause it grows every year. You could be in a position to almost be at that quarter million mark through this summit. It's that good, and we had to bring that up because I think there's a lot of summits out there nowadays. People are throwing them together, but this is one that is proven year over year to over-deliver on what you promised.

Tasha: 30:05
I appreciate that, and we're only able to do that because experts like you volunteer their time and the speakers do not get paid. But the one thing I will say for anyone listening who thinks oh, I've participated in a summit before and I found it overwhelming. The other thing I have very intentionally done every year is we have never had more than 25 speakers because I do think there is a tipping point at which, yeah, the information is just as valuable, but it's too hard to come through. This year, with the feedback I've gotten every year, I'm actually intentionally made it smaller. We have only 17 speakers this year. With the feedback I've gotten every year, I'm actually intentionally made it smaller.

Tasha: 30:40
We have only 17 speakers this year and I'm excited that this year we used to organize it by day one decluttering, day two organizing, day three decorating. This year, thanks to the feedback of people who participated in the past, they all wanted it all mixed up. So now this year, you're going to get a little dose of decluttering, organizing and decorating every single day, which I think I'm very excited about that change. And, yeah, like Megan said, basic admission is free to everyone and that is how the vast majority of people participate. With basic admission, you can watch each expert session for the free viewing period, which is 24 hours each day. You get 24 hours to watch the sessions for that day and you can do that without paying a dime. The spirit of the event is we want to help you create a home you love, and if the only way you can do that is with free admission, you are still well.

Megan: 31:38
Yeah, oh, my goodness. I'm excited for it this year, because I don't know what it is.

Megan: 31:43
I'm going to learn, but I know I'm going to learn something because, I always do every single year and again, thank you for giving us your time here today and I would encourage everyone listening take that first step to identify where is your dedicated workspace going to be, and and that initial connection of is how this space decorated today, supporting me to get stuff done, because maybe it's time to find a new space or bring some things into it that support you on that. It's so important.

Megan: 32:12
Oh, thank you so much, tasha, and we look forward to seeing you at the summit. Thanks, megan. Getting on top of all things time management, organization and productivity doesn't have to stop just because this episode is over. If you want one tap access to all of my training and current top podcasts, go to the app store or Google play and download the pink B app. It's one word, the pink B. It is jam packed with simple yet powerful tips and strategies to get you out of overwhelm and into harmony. And if you have a question you want me to cover on a future episode, go to iTunes and ask your question in the podcast review section. And while you're there, don't forget to leave a five-star review.

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