What To Bring To The Office

Early last summer, after twelve years as a freelancer, I got myself a desk in a shared office in Paris!

I had been thinking about it for a while: working from home wasn’t quite working for me anymore, the space I often borrowed at Maxence’s offices was getting filled, and I was drinking entirely too much coffee at my local (beloved) coffee shop.

As soon as I decided that’s what I wanted, it was all very flow-y. I did a search on this specialized website, looking for coworking space in my own neighborhood. I knew I had found The One as soon as I saw the photos. I arranged to meet the woman who owns the office that very day, we clicked, the desk was perfect for me…

…I “moved in” a couple of days later.

My desk

My desk

And this is now where I spend most of my days — when I’m not leading private food tours (get in touch if you’re interested!) or developing and shooting recipes — and I could not be happier or more productive.

Part of my bliss in moving in was personalizing my space with a few items, which I wanted to share with you today. I hope it serves as inspiration for next time you have a new office, giving you ideas of things to bring to make your days more comfortable and your work space more “you”.

These are the things I brought to my Paris office:


My notebooks, which I take home and back every morning and every night. The black one is my soft-cover weekly planner; the pink one is for my daily affirmations; the blue one is my dotted notebook that I use for bullet journaling and task management.

My favorite kind of pen, the triplus fineliner in black.

• The feathered camembert box that Milan made me for Mother’s Day, to keep paper clips.

Tea stuff

• A selection of teas, caffeinated and non-caffeinated, loose-leaf and bagged.

• A ball infuser, for loose-leaf teas.

• A favorite tea cup, purchased in London some thirteen years ago, that has the word “fresh” embossed on the side.

• A mini-board from Earlywood on which to place my cup, to avoid staining the desk.

Pencil holder

• My favorite kind of pen in 10 brilliant colors, for lettering and bullet journaling.

• The pencil holder is my late grandmother’s vintage measuring glass, graduated all around the rim for cacao, sugar, tapioca, starch, rice, semolina, and flour.

• A roll of Japanese masking tape of which I bought a ridiculous amount in Tokyo seven years ago (still working through my supply).

Photo collage

• Various postcards and photos dear to my heart, taped to the wall behind me with said masking tape.


• A pink drinking glass with a lid (to avoid spills) and a metal straw, which I got for helping crowdfund The Ocean Cleanup.

• A wide and shallow bowl from Broste Copenhagen, for plating my desk salads.

• A napkin — actually a Japanese furoshiki.

• Some snacks, such as raw crackers from Biscru, a soup mix from Sol Semilla, and my very favorite Claudio Corallo chocolate, the sablé 80%.


A whole lotta books! Part of the thrill of having office space is that it comes with bookshelves! Empty bookshelves! For all my cookbooks!

Pictured here, books written by friends:
Do One Thing Every Day That Inspires You
The New Paris
À La Table d’une famille chinoise (in French, recipes from a Chinese family in France)
Fourche & Fourchette (in French, about field-to-table eating in France)
Classic German Baking
Syndrôme de l’intestin irritable (in French, a naturopathic approach to IBS)
Inside Chef’s Fridges, Europe
Le Grand Manuel du cuisinier (in French, a visual reference book of classic French recipes)

Flip flops and scarf

• A big wraparound scarf from Karl Marc John, for when it gets chilly.

• A pair of flip-flops to change into if I’m wearing heels.


• Some basic toiletries: my favorite hand moisturizer, from my friend who grows bulbine in South Africa; tissues; a toothbrush and my go-to organic toothpaste.

What Did You Bring To Your Office?

What about you? What have you stashed away in your desk to make you feel at home and comfortable? And if you’re a freelancer, have you taken the plunge and found office space to get your work done?


The couch nook where I meditate in the morning.

  • Megan

    Congratulations, Clotilde! Your office is lovely. I recently moved into a new office space and brought a few things to make the space my own: favorite coffee mug, Nespresso machine, beautiful desktop calendar, reusable water bottle, day planner and my Ink & Volt time blocking/task management notebook (which comes home every night). I am inspired by your postcard & photo wall and think that will be my next step. I just need to get some beautiful masking tape!

    • Love it! Please share a pic of your photo wall when you’ve put it together!

  • Your office looks both cozy and like a space for great productivity and creativity.

  • Wendy Bird

    I’m retired now so I have a home, not an office. Actually, I never had an office. I worked in a hospital and was issued a locker. Until everything was computerized, I brought pens for charting and my stethoscope. I brought my lunch which went into the communal refrigerator. I kept my purse in my locker, and the outerwear I had worn driving in. There were desks, and later computers, but they were also shared. In the old hospital, there was a big kitchen with a coffee machine. But when we moved to the new hospital, all food service was centralized. If I wanted coffee, at first I had to wait for my assigned break (yes, breaks and lunches were assigned–you can’t have everyone go to lunch at the same time) and march down to the cafeteria to buy it. Eventually, our manager bought us a coffee maker.

    • Retta Thompson Clews

      When I worked OB and they built a new maternity unit they were going to leave out the kitchen – we explained that women often (!) have their babies at night and then they are HUNGRY! So we did get a tiny kitchen. For myself, I did eventually claim a drawer at the nurses station!

    • Seems essential!

  • Amy Johnson

    Adore the vintage measuring cup as pen holder.

  • I recently started working in an office and was in some serious need of desk inspo! My desk is so barren and non-homely that it really doesn’t make me feel great. I’m going to head in tomorrow armed with loads of little bits and pieces to make it more ‘me’

    Steph – http://www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

  • Liz Conforti

    I took my spare bedroom and made it my office/workspace where I could make my craft items and write. Have a desk on one side of room and a six foot table from surplus property on other side… purchased a bin type piece of furniture to store craft supplies and put it inside my closet…six ft long…color mainly is smoke blue and jade, 1930ish style. Thank you for sharing your new space, Clotilde!

  • Annabel Smyth

    I’m retired now, but last time I worked in an office, I took a big sponge-bag filled with necessities – toothbrush and paste, an illuminated magnifying glass (I had to look at the tiny numbers on SIM cards), hairbrush, comb, moisturiser, a tiny umbrella, and, after a miserable day with wet feet, dy socks and a pair of folding slippers! Then for the office kitchen I took in a manual coffee filter and Thermos jug to make coffee into, coffee, Lady Grey tea, and plates, knives and forks that we weren’t using any more (“So civilised” said my boss, who tried to manage without). We had a fridge, microwave, kettle and mugs provided, so we were good to go!

    • Oooh, what’s Lady Grey tea?

      • Annabel Smyth

        It’s made by Twinings, I think – a black tea flavoured with some kind of citrus (orange, I think). It’s not as citrussy as the thé aux agrumes that I stock up with whenever I’m in France and like for a refreshing afternoon drink, but it doesn’t have that artificial taste that so many lemon tea bags have. I think I’ve bought it in France before now….

        • Would that be the same as Earl Grey? It’s a bergamot tea that’s super popular in France, and I am now wondering if Lady Grey is just feminist Earl Grey. ;)

          • Annabel Smyth

            No, it’s quite separate! According to the Twinings website, Lady Grey is flavoured with orange as well as with the lemon and bergamot traditional to Earl Grey. I certainly find that it doesn’t need a slice of lemon in it the way Earl Grey is nicest with.

  • Betty Cherniak

    I love your choices of items for your new office, esp. the notebooks. So simple and yet so beautiful and practical, very you. Thanks for sharing.

  • Dave Reeder

    Can’t imagine a working table without piles of press releases, magazines and tearsheets from newspapers! You’re very organised.

    • Funny! Apart from the notebooks and cookbooks, I do keep a pretty paperless desk. :)

  • maria

    I have the delight of a desk in a shared room in the university where I study. i go there 3 times a week. I have spare shoes, socks, a cosy scarf, a make up bag, coffee, almond butter, a water bottle, cards made by my kids, good chocolate, a lush facial spray as the room is dry due to heating, handcream, and loads of books, papers, folders, and research materials. I think I need a nice plate, a better water bottle and some nice teabags.

    • Your office sounds like it has all the cozy stuff in place! I need to bring in some socks now, for when I get caught in the rain going into the office.

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