Home office ideas that transform your working from home space have been hugely popular over the last few years. A place that inspires creativity, encourages routine and yet feels homely all at once is what homeowners are keen to get right. ‘Your home office should be somewhere that feeds your soul and promotes creativity,’ says interior designer Gillian Gillies.
For Aimee Wertepny, interior designer and owner of PROjECT.Interiors (opens in new tab), the client is at the forefront of design and the key considerations are what they want from their space and how they need the space to function. ‘Do you need storage, do you want a view?’ she asks. ‘Do you need a kickass Zoom background?’ What you want from your space informs how it should be designed. ‘For example, L-shaped desks are best for people who have multiple screens, whereas a built-in desk with wall-to-wall storage works for someone who doesn’t want distractions.’
Whatever the priority of your working from home set-up, we’ve got the home office ideas to match.
What to consider when planning your home office ideas
The design of your working from home space also comes down to how you want to feel in the space. Do you require creative stimulation or do you want to feel calm in your home office. ‘We take function, views, intention into consideration. Then you can create a space that fits the aesthetic and vibe of your space accordingly,' says Aime of PROjECT. Interiors. First define your space and the design will follow. Here are our ideas for how to elevate your working from home environment.
1. Add a statement piece of furniture
Invest in a statement piece of furniture that is going to add interest to the space and work in and out of an office environment. 'I like to steer away from obvious office furniture,' says Christina Neilsen from Christina Neilsen Design. 'Instead, I like to invest in multipurpose pieces that can work in an office and beyond.
'An oversized desk or table, a dresser for storage instead of a filing cabinet, an armoire with skirted fabric to conceal paperwork and clutter while being able to hold a large amount of storage.' In this example in Austin, Texas, Neilsen has added an India Mahdavi rattan mirror and a vintage peacock chair. The hand-painted lamp is topped with a ruched-silke shade.
2. Pick the perfect desk
Desk ideas for the home office are crucial to getting your working from home space spot on. The desk is going to be the main feature in your home office, so think about how much room you need for your work, and its proximity to the window so you can benefit from that natural light.
'Your desk is one of the first things to consider,' says Sara Malek Barney of BANDD Design. 'The purpose will help determine what size and how much storage you need. I would go for the most significant desk that fits comfortably in the space and has features that make it easy to store and organize everything. Also consider your work style: Do you prefer a rectangle style, L-shaped or compact? Then, think about the color and finish – Make sure it matches the décor and aesthetic of your home.
Finally, consider the placement of your desk; You'll want it in a space where you can feel settled and focused. If you work long hours, the desk chair is also an important element. Then, you can layer in the lighting, extra storage pieces and décor.'
3. Think about the Zoom background
As for those all-important Zoom calls, make sure your background is professional, tasteful yet strikes the balance right without having too many personal trinkets on display. This is key to a productive space where you can work from home efficiently.
Mimi Meacham of Marian Louise Designs designed this office for a busy mother and entrepreneur who wanted to create a space that would function as well as it looks. 'We took our ways of working into consideration by ensuring it was 'Zoom' background friendly, while ensuring she had plenty of storage.'
4. Add interest with bold wallpaper
For a modern home office idea, think about adding interest to the space with bold wallpaper.
'Few great masterpieces have been created in a soul-less cubicle. Wallpaper can be used to great effect to set the tone of your office space, creating a tailored environment for you to work at your best,' says Georgina Fraser of Jeffreys Interiors (opens in new tab).
In this case, clients were lucky to unearth a treasure in the form of these original hand painted wallpaper panels - home office wall decor at its finest. 'Peeling and yellowing, the panels were lovingly restored to reveal this vibrant and exotic design that literally transports you to another inspirational world,' says Georgina.
'Uplifting and joyful, it’s impossible not to smile when you walk through the door. Paired with The Little’s Greene’s Drummond paint on the walls, reds are known to evoke passion, excitement and energy, alongside ambition, action and will power. The perfect combination to get the creative juices flowing, and certainly makes for a memorable back drop to a zoom call. The writing desk, original to the house, would be a perfect spot to put pen to paper. Obviously these panels are a rarity, but the idea can be recreated with just as much impact using digitally printed murals, or hand painted options if budget allows.'
5. Create a home office zone
If you have an open plan set up, or you want to create a separate space in your living room or bedroom for a home office, but storage to use creating 'walls'. In this New York loft cabinets in a gorgeous white oak are used as dividers to create a private home office that feels like its own room.
If you don't want such a solid wall in your space, opt for backless shelving. You'll get a similar effect but light go flow through. 'Backless shelves can even be used to zone a room. A great solution if you’re looking to create a home office in an existing space such as a living room or kitchen area. Ensuring it’s backless will allow you to partition an area but still allow light to pass through, plus it’s a brilliant storage solution too.' say Loaf (opens in new tab) Founder, Charlie Marshall.
6. Add an informal seating area
A home office needn't purely be a functional space. You want it to feel cozy and welcoming as well as inspiring, so consider adding a more informal spot within your home office, as well as the desk add in a couple of accents armchairs and a coffee table. Utilize this space for your morning coffee, a spot away from your desk to clear to take a quick break, or have a brainstorm if you have colleagues come and work from your home office too.
This chic home office features a custom leather desk, with darkened brass inlays and espresso oak and Ochre’s iconic Scorpion lamp.
7. Pick a color scheme that invigorates
'Choosing the correct color for your home office is only as important to you as your job!' says Annie Sloan (opens in new tab), Colour and Paint Expert. 'Choose the best colors depending on what your job requires of you and what your personality faults might be. For example, those who lack focus will benefit from bright arresting colors whilst those whose roles require deep thinking should consider incorporating contemplative blues. I think strong colors are important whatever your role: this is not a room for relaxing, you want the space to feel dynamic.'
'Make your office area a brighter space than the rest of the room. Picture a spotlight shining on your desk and paint a circle of color that covers the floor around your chair and goes up the walls for a ‘zoned’ area. Chalk Paint® can be used to paint anything so you can include your chair, desk, lamp, even your bin in the zoning area.'
8. Get your home office lighting spot on
Home office lighting is so key to an effective work space. You need to tick all the types – accent, ambient, and task, with a heavy dose of task. Consider multiple sources to created layered lighting that you can adapt depending on how you want to use the space. Use lamps for a soft diffused light, spot lights for something more focused, and wall lights or a single ceiling light for a more all over light.
'Lighting! You need to be able to work without straining your eyes.' says Ann Marie Cousins, Founder of AMC Design (opens in new tab). 'Pendants are pretty, and you’ll need them to fill the space if you have high ceilings, but they won’t give out the most amount of light so think about directional spot lights to brighten the areas you will be working in, complemented by desk lamps.'
9. Add a creative statement piece with a work of wall art
Home offices are very practical rooms, and this can make it tricky to know how to bring in decor. Wall decor, whether that be prints, gallery walls, clocks or artwork are perfect for adding a touch of personality without taking up any floor space. Pick a piece (or pieces) you really love that will inspire and uplift you throughout the working day.
'A home office must be designed as a space to induce thought. It wants to have crisp, clear lines, comfort, and creative inspiration by way of artwork or patterned wallpaper.' says Martin Waller, founder and creative director of Andrew Martin (opens in new tab). And we think this home office gets that balance spot on – practical yes, but the 3D wall sculptures by Rana Begum adds plenty of personality.
10. Choose the perfect desk
The desk is going to be the main feature in your home office, so make sure you get your design spot on. Think about how much room you are going to need, do you like to spread out your paperwork so you'll need plenty of surface space, or is all you need room for a laptop and a place to plant a coffee?
Consider its location too. The most obvious spot for an office desk is in front of a window so you can benefit from all that natural light. But if that sounds too distracting facing your desk into the room as you can see here so you aren't staring at a solid wall. Floating a desk like this also means you can use both sides for extra seating if you should ever need to.
11. And the perfect chair
'The most important investment for a working space is a good chair and functionality does not need to come at the expense of comfort or aesthetics. Choose something that you love and which will support you throughout the day. When selecting the seating within a home office, it is important to consider the end-user as well as the way it will be used in the space. Will you want to swivel around? To sit back while you ponder ideas? To kneel or stand sometimes? Factor this into the buying process.' says Clara Ewart, head of design at Kitesgrove (opens in new tab).
'We would always avoid choosing a desk chair for your home office that could fall under the category of ‘style over substance’. Perhaps more than any other piece of furniture in your home, comfort, and ergonomics are of the highest importance when it comes to choosing an office chair, and there are ways to achieve this that don’t look too clunky.'
12. Replace a solid wall with a glass partition
Home offices can be light starved places, so considered borrowing light from an adjoining room by replacing a wall with a glass partition. That way the space flood with light and the space feels more open and less boxed in. Worried about privacy? Hang a curtain that you can pull over when you need to.
13. Transform a mezzanine
Mezzanines are popular due to the footage they add to a home, and they also work well as offices, as they offer plenty of light and airflow. If you’re looking to add one, note that they can be built on the ground floor for any function but that the space should not cover more than 50% of the room it is above.
Different rules apply when building a mezzanine on the first floor, since it can’t form a habitable room unless the floor level is 4.5m or less above outdoor ground level and has a fire-escape compliant window. Check regulations for your area.
14. Mix in some non-office furniture
And by that we mean don't just stick to the classic home office furniture, bring in pieces that reflect your personal style too. Storage is usually the best way to do this, find second-hand pieces that can double up as storage – a vintage trunk, an antique bureau or an old cabinet will all add interest while still serving a purpose.
'In order to create a creative space – somewhere you want to be in – it's important the furniture is as considered as elsewhere in the home. Just because conventional offices tend to be grey and plain doesn't mean your home one needs to be, too! So include the same eclectic mix as in your living room - a comfy chair in a patterned fabric, a vintage writing desk with leather covers. Anything that turns this into a room you're happy to work.' explains Livingetc Editor, Pip Rich.
15. Wall mount a desk to save on floor space
When space is tight in a small home office or if your home office is just a nook in another room, opting for a setup like this with a compact floating desk is a good option. Make it feel like its own separate space by painting the wall or the alcove around it and hanging artwork or a notice board above the desk. We'd recommend wall mounting a light too so you aren't taking up precious desk space with a lamp.
16. Add a desk into built in storage
We'd once have thought that giving up precious closet space for a space to work would be a straight-up no, but the increase in the cloffice trend has us thinking otherwise. Closet office ideas are both stylish and practical – just look how fabulous this design is – you can build a desk into your storage and just fold it away or close the doors on it at the end of the day. Perfect for work/life balance.
17. Double up a window ledge as a place to work
Designed by Alice Lane (opens in new tab), this clever desk area was created between built cabinets, in the window sill area. Sure a clever home office idea to make the most of what would otherwise be dead space. If you are considering going for a wall of built-in storage in your home office, pinch this idea for sure! It might not be the most practical spot for your whole working day but would be perfect for drinking coffee and catching up on emails.
18. Transform an awkward corner
Home offices can often be awkwardly shaped spaces, but lean into those weird angles and work with it. Use this space as inspiration – see how the built-in desk spans the longest (and straightest wall) really make the most of the space. The dark shade on the walls blurs the boundaries of the oddly shaped room too.
19. Take that old-world feel up a notch with panelling
Wood paneling is something else we love in a home office, adding that old world charm that's so synonymous with home offices. Keep it bare wood for a more traditional look or if you prefer a cleaner more contemporary vibe paint panelling with a crisp white shade – you still get the texture and interest just in a more minimalist form.
20. Keep it simple and stylish
Sometimes all you need is a desk and a chair to be able to call your space a home office. So just keep it simple, pick a desk you love and a chair that suits your space and then place it anywhere in your home that it makes sense. Ground it in your chosen spot by hanging some artwork and of course a vase of lovely flowers.
This stylish home office features a Greta Grossman desk, Skai Desk chair and artwork by Tora Vega Holmstrom.
21. Go for an uplifting neutral scheme
This bright, inviting room – complete with original frosted glazing – was once the public bar of the pub. It has a neutral, natural, and understated look that creates a calming workspace.
We all know greens are the go-to shade if you want to create an uplifting space, and we love the pale shade in this home office. As Patrick O’ Donnell of Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab)says, 'Greens are naturally calming and help us to relax, especially if we can create an environment that feels like the great outdoors. The symbolic color of nature’s ‘green’ in all its shades can be a very effective color to focus the mind, from pale, soft cool greens to the deeper richer end of olive tones! Greens inspire thought and logic, perfect for dealing with your daily tasks.'
22. Turn and alcove to a work space
You can easily create a chic desk area in an alcove like this, using the bottom shelf as a desk, and sliding any chair under it when you need to use it – then just moving the chair back to its original spot to keep the room neat and tidy.
We also like the idea of housing an alcove desk and shelves like this behind cupboard doors, keeping paperwork and stationery out of sight entirely. The foot space under the desk could even double up as extra storage, for example for toy baskets, when the desk is not in use. That way the room could serve a dual function.
23. DIY a personalized pin board
As this home office proves, a pinboard can be so much more than a spot to store your to-do list. A pinboard can be a design statement in itself, whether you keep it simple with an oversized cork design or go more traditional with an upholstered style. Make it into a piece of art by decorating it to reflect your style (just be sure to leave a teeny space clear for your to-do lists).
The upholstered pinboard-come-artwork is made bespoke by Studio Peake (opens in new tab).
24. Decorate with a gallery wall
Gallery walls are one of our favorite ways to decorate a home office – they add a tone of texture, color, and interest to a space and make it feel more personal and lived in. See how both high- and low-end artwork grace the purple walls of the study. They come from junk shops as well as galleries, creating a deliberate collector’s mix that's perfect for this traditional home office.
25. Go for an eclectic vintage style
Make your home office a more creative space by filling it with towering house plants and antique (or vintage-looking) artwork. Hunt second hand for a rustic desk and pair it with a non-matching chair for an extra eclectic touch.
26. Create a display with your books
We've always said if you've got books, you've got decor, they add instant color and personality to a space, plus storing your book collection in a home office just makes sense. Store them alphabetically, by genre, or by color, just get them out and on show.
'Clever storage is king and a good de-clutter can make an area feel bigger. Make the most of wall space to get everything up off the ground using shelving. A great storage solution, shelves are also the perfect way to show-off memories that you’ve collected over the years. Display your favorite knick-knacks, keepsakes, and dog-eared books to give your home office personality.' says Charlie Marshall.
27. Double up seating
Whether there are multiple family members using the same home office, or homework being done in one place, then find a desk that can comfortably sit everyone with space to spread papers and books. A large table is the perfect starting point, and can double as an overflow entertaining area. Make the most of both sides of your desk by floating it in the center of the room and add in a mismatch of chairs so it looks lovely as well as being functional. Ground the table with a large areas rug – just ensure all the furniture sits on top.
Take inspiration from this room, which was the office for Sir Terence Conran and his wife Vicki, and prepare for Zoom meetings with a gallery wall.
28. Paint a chalkboard wall
It might sound like more of a kid's room idea, but a chalkboard wall can be a practical addition to a home office too. Ideal to making to-do lists, creating a calendar, or just turning it into a beautiful mural that you can switch up whenever you fancy.
29. Decorate with moody hues
Darker shades can work wonders in a home office, creating cozy, inviting spaces. Livingetc’s editor Pip McCormac says ‘For a small office, go with a rich, dark color on the walls - it may seem counterintuitive but a wonderful deep shade like a purple will bring the room alive, making it seem like a space to be creative. Then cover the wall with art and photos in a gallery wall style, which gives the eye something to be inspired by every time you take a screen break.’
How can you make a home office look good?
To make a home office look good, think about your own personal style, how you decorate your other rooms, what colors, prints, and textures you like, and then think about how you can reflect that style in your home office.
A home office does have to be a practical space first, stylish space second but that doesn't mean you can't have fun with the space. Pick out second-hand pieces and mix them with your office furniture, hang a gallery wall to add character or put up some bold wallpaper that's going to give you an uplift each time you get a glimpse.
'Always start with a color palette. That’s the easiest way to make a space feel like you.' recommends Emily Henderson (opens in new tab). 'Then I would make sure to decide on all of your functional pieces ie desk, chair, storage. But remember you can get creative. A dining table can be a great desk and might give you some more style options. Using vintage pieces is also a perfect way to make your home office feel unique to you. Then after those pieces are set add in art, accessories, personal memorabilia. It’s really like designing any other room. You just want to make sure you create a space that’s conducive to you and how you work.'
It's also important that your home office is practical, too. Try and integrate some home office organizers into your space to help with storage, and to keep certain things in check — and out of sight.
What should a home office include?
The main thing you need in a home office is a good desk that meets your personal needs and style and a comfy chair that's supportive and designs to be used for longer periods of time. After that, it just depends on what you want from your space and the size too. Storage is always helpful, a couple of shelves for books if you are squeezed for space or if you aren't limited by square footage a whole wall of built-in cabinetry would be a real asset.
Then there's lighting, a key part of home office design. Make sure you have a good task light either overhead or on your desk to work by. But also include other light sources too, because ambiance is still important. Dot about a few lamps for a softer, all-over glow.
How do you make a home office cozy?
Home offices do tend to be very practical spaces, and there's usually not lots of room to add in tons of decor, so the easiest way to make a home office feel cozy is textiles. They are warmth and texture but take up zero room. As Emily Henderson says, 'I think textiles always make a space cozier. If you have a window, make sure to hang curtains. If you have space for an accent chair, throw a pillow and blanket on it. Get a low pile rule so you can still roll your chair over. Easy fixes that make a big impact.'
Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.
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