Modern home office ideas are at the top of so many of our wish lists at the moment. With working from home becoming more of a permanent fixture, it’s time to ditch working from the kitchen table, or the sofa, (or from bed on the laziest of days) and get your home office set up spot on. A dedicated workspace, whether it be a whole room or just a nook, is key to productivity and helping with the work/life balance so you have a space you can ‘leave’ at the end of each day and your office space isn’t encroaching on your living space.
Modern, minimalist designs do lend themselves to workspaces so we’ve pulled together all our favorite modern home office ideas (don’t worry they aren’t all stark white spaces) to help you start creating the ideal office space. Even if your office is in the corner of your living room, there are plenty of looks here that don’t need an entire room to work and can help your office space feel separate from the rest of the space.
1. Make a statement with lighting
Home offices are very practical spaces, they need to be in fact, but that does mean it can be tricky to add in any decor that doesn’t serve a function. But lighting? That can be both functional and stylish, so make it a feature of your office and choose something statement – an antique chandelier to contrast the clean lines of an office space, a Sputnik light to give a cool retro vibe or a rattan shade for a soft boho element.
Lighting doesn’t always need be purely practical in a modern home office, just be sure that you have some task lighting in the form of a desk lamp as well an ambient lighting overhead.
2. Choose an inspiring color scheme (with a modern twist)
Green is a shade that’s known for its calming, productivity-inducing qualities so it makes sense that it's a really popular shade for modern home offices. Olive greens, sage greens, and even deeper, more moody, forest greens would all work as part of a color scheme, but we are a little bit obsessed with the high-gloss finish of the walls in this home office (yes, lacquered walls are making a come back and we aren’t mad about it), it gives the green a contemporary twist.
‘One might think that too much color in an office space would be distracting, but it’s actually more inspiring and motivating.’ says Helen Shaw, Director at Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab). ‘Blues and greens are a great choice for anyone who needs to boost their concentration whilst working from home. Both are naturally tranquil shades that act as restorers of balance and harmony. If your workload or even just the current day-to-day is overwhelming you, blues and greens are a green choice for calming the mind and encouraging focus.’
3. Keep it simple with an all white scheme
You just can’t go wrong with clean neutral shades in a modern home office, as Helen says ‘ Whites and off whites allow you to begin each day with a clean slate and a clear mind, but it also affords you the ability to switch out little details as your taste (or the seasons) shift, providing a brand-new space with little effort each and every time. Highlighting focal areas such as bookcases or woodwork in a complementary color draws the eye, adding interest.’
So it’s a versatile choice that you can easily switch up when you are feeling like a change, which when you spend every day sat in the same spot could be pretty often. Break up the walls of white with prints and add some personality with decor on your desk so the space doesn’t feel too clinical.
4. Add personality with a gallery wall
Speaking of prints, gallery walls make for great additions to home offices because they can add a load of color, pattern and texture and yet take up zero floor space. They are also easy to change, so again you won’t tire of the look the longer you spend in the space.
We’d always recommend testing out your choice of prints and the layout by creating a gallery on the floor first so you can see how it will all work before you go hammering holes in your wall. And don’t just stick to prints either, hats, tickets, plates, bags, mirrors, we could go on, so many objects can look at home in a gallery wall so get creative.
5. Get the position of your desk right
While we may not all be blessed with an ocean view, getting the position of your desk right so you feel inspired and productive is key to designing a modern home office you actually want to spend time in. The obvious choice is positioning your desk in front of a window, natural light does wonders for helping you focus and can provide a nice backdrop for your laptop.
However, if you don’t have a window in your office, or it looks out onto the street, placing it as close to a natural light source is still important but instead, try facing your desk into the room with the window behind you or place it perpendicular to it. Just make sure you have the right window treatments to reduce the glare on your screen.
6. Try centring your desk
This is a great home office layout if you share the space or have meetings where more than one person needs to get around the table. Having your desk sit front and center means you can make use of both sides or you can choose a circular design to squeeze in extra seating when you need it.
It also makes the space feel more relaxed and informal and fills the sea of floor space you often find in home offices as all the furniture is usually pushed up against the walls.
7. And think about your choice of chair too
As your back has probably already let you know, don’t buy an office chair purely on looks. You’re potentially going to be spending hours sat at it, so think practically first. Pick something supportive that suits the way you work and try and ensure it has armrests – they might be bulky but they ensure the comfiest seat. That’s not to say your chair can’t be stylish too...
‘An office chair has to be comfortable, but it is important to get the level of comfort right. A leather armchair for example would fit in a library feel, acting as a sanctuary to read and reflect, where an upright swivel chair suits written desk work. And do not be condemned to a black foam seat, go for a chair in mid-century velvet upholstery or a cantilever with interesting lines.’ advises, Martin Waller, Founder of global design brand Andrew Martin (opens in new tab).
8. Bounce light around with mirrors
Home offices are often the smallest rooms in the house, and they can often be light-starved too, but you can counteract the darkness and make the space feel more open with the oldest interior design trick there is – mirrors.
‘When it comes to decorating your home office, there are lots of clever tips and tricks. I have a thing for mirrors, especially those with barely-there brass frames. They’re so simple but are super versatile and can make the space look much bigger. Mirrors generally are great for smaller spaces as they’ll bounce the light around. Positioning a mirror opposite natural light will instantly create the illusions of a much larger space.’ says Charlie Marshall, Founder of Loaf (opens in new tab).
9. Divide a home office with a curtain
If you don’t have a dedicated room for an office, so work from a living room or bedroom, be inspired by this modern home office idea. Simple, but effective using a curtain to divide up a space can give that separate feeling, making your office space feel like its own ‘zone’ that you can leave at the end of the day. And it needn’t be a permanent fixture in your home, you can always pull the curtain back when your home office isn’t in use to open up the room again.
10. Go for a minimalist look
Really what else do you need in an office about from a desk, a chair and good lighting? So for a really contemporary home office idea strip it right back and just float a desk with a couple of chairs in the space and hang a statement pendant above. The look works particularly well in rooms that have original features like elegant high ceilings with original moldings or, as can be seen, here exposed beams, just to add some interest and texture to a very simple space.
11. Breath life into a modern home office with plants
As well as adding literal life to a room and cleaning the air, house plants are a lovely way to add texture and color. Bring in some large palms to tower either side of your desk for an instant uplift. And if you have a small home office, arrange hanging plants on your shelves or add a couple of small pots to your desk.
12. Make a modern office cozier with a large rug
It can be tricky to make a modern home office feel cozy as practicality needs to come first, and yet you still want it to be a warm and welcoming space for you to work from. Rugs are a simple way to add this coziness without taking up any room, as Charlie Marshall says, ‘introducing a rug is not only a practical solution but also a fantastic way to introduce a splash of color into a scheme. Adding a stripe or Berber-style pattern can completely reinvent the space. Opt for neutral tones and lighter shades if you’re looking to keep the room feeling light and airy. Finish the space with your favorite artwork, framed photos, and some freshly cut flowers and you’re on to a winner!’
13. Mix and match styles for a contemporary eclectic look
Blending styles in a home office is a really easy way to make them feel more personal and adds to intrigue to the room. Hunt around for second-hand pieces that will be practical but also add style. See how in this office a Mid-century desk sits with a contemporary office chair, antique painting, and a quirky cowhide rug, all of which is set against the backdrop of a very traditional deep blue. It works as a functional home office and yet is full of character.
Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.