Ample storage, an ergonomic desk and chair, plus plenty of task lighting are all key considerations, but, being places in which we will spend lots of time, it’s also essential that they are uplifting spaces we enjoy being in. Introducing color, pattern, wall decor and statement furniture are all brilliant ways to bring personality to the space. With a carefully considered layout, it’s possible to turn a guest room into a dual-purpose space that can accommodate overnight visitors and also work as an office, too. The key to this partnership and organizing a home office of any kind is built-in storage, which conceals clutter and work-related papers, keeping the room ordered.
‘A wallpaper frieze reminiscent of mid-century abstract expressionism creates a giant artwork used as a room divider. Furniture is big, lighting sculptural and walls are in a deep neutral for a cosseting sense of drama,’ says Emma Thomas, decorating editor at Homes & Gardens.
Adding a partition to a living room is an easy way to create a small home office nook. In this space the desk and shelves are made in the same wood as the living room paneling to give a streamlined and spacious look.
A tall house plant also helps to screen-off the area, while also bringing an uplifting pop off green and softness to the room. Dark colors can work particularly well in small spaces such as home offices, helping to create a cocooning atmosphere to aid concentration.
'A good way to introduce a dark shade in your home is by painting just a section of a wall to create a zone within a room. And by painting just a smaller section of the room you can go really brave or dark with your chosen colour,' says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown (opens in new tab).
It is also a great way to close the door on work at the end of the day so that you can switch off, plus will help conceal the clutter, too. For those that don't have a dedicated room for a home office think about flexible desk options suggests Simon Temprell, interior design manager at Neptune (opens in new tab).
'Our Heatherley dining table has a desk organizer that sits comfortably on top for the storage of paper, pens etc.
If you’re looking to create a luxurious and sophisticated home office for him, consider decorating with black and white and combining furniture with strong angles and streamlined shapes. With its jolly abstract design this Roman blind in Lucy's India fabric from Hare’s Tail Printing brings an uplifting pop of pattern. 'If you’re working from home, a good desk light can lift the spirits and increase productivity,' says Peter Bowles, founder of Original BTC (opens in new tab).
'Simple and refined, our lights sit comfortably on all manner of desks, from impromptu working-from-home corners to traditional studies.' 'Lighting is an effective way to zone your living space, defining areas for different activities and making every corner count. A bone china shade will create a soft welcoming environment you’re eager to spend time in,' he adds, which is important when your home office is positioned in a room also used for relaxation.
Decorating with antiques can be a great way to bring character and unique style to a home office, particularly if you want to keep the walls white or wall-to-wall bookshelves prevent you from hanging artwork.
'Here an antique desk with brass handles is elegantly paired with a modern upholstered chair sitting on an art deco style rug, creating a smart home office space.' ‘A great way to achieve this is by using colors and textures that help you recall the natural world whilst you’re clacking away,’ says Sue Jones, creative director at Oka (opens in new tab).
‘Green makes a soothing wall color, and try to incorporate organic materials anywhere you can – rattan furniture is a favourite of mine.’ To brighten-up the space decorate with art and objects and artwork that you love to be around. Introduce a whimsical pattern into a home office scheme without overpowering the room by using colors from the same tonal scale throughout.
‘From tactile faux shagreen and deep pile velvet, to sleek chrome and hammered iron there’s an abundant wealth of textures to choose from.’
Remember art doesn’t always need to be hung on the center of the wall; it can rest on top of desks or layered next to sculptures or on bookshelves and joinery.’
Making home office desk ideas work in an open-plan room can be a challenge but using the existing structural definitions can serve to demarcate. In this design by Natalia Miyar Atelier (opens in new tab), a niche between two structural columns becomes a purposeful study.
The dark walnut wood joinery marks a distinctive contrast, helping to zone out the desk area from the rest of the room. ‘Buy a decent chair, your back will thank you,' adds interior designer Joanna Wood (opens in new tab). 'Something that looks like a cast-off from the bank manager’s office won’t work.’ Options to tone down workaday items include re-covering chairs in another fabric or refinishing shiny chrome details in a patinated bronze.
A library books wallpaper adds a whimsical note and provides the ideal trompe l’oeil for a Zoom background. Introduce wallpaper into a study to inject a hit of pattern – it will ensure the room remains defiantly on the side of domestic despite the paraphernalia and machinery necessary to support working from home. If the desk stands within a larger, open-plan space, wallpapering the joinery surrounding it will help zone the work area from the rest of the room.
If you’re concerned that a bold wallpaper design might overpower a small room, panel the lower or upper half of the wall. The challenge with modern home office ideas in many new-build properties is that they lack architectural features such as chimney recesses and alcoves that add character and distinction, as well as making perfect desk spaces. When this is the case, the best bet is to work creatively with fitted joinery and build a shelf into the run of wardrobes – the minimum recommended depth for a laptop is 60cm – which can act as a desk. While kitchen tables frequently double up as desks, if the budget allows, try to carve out an area which can be closed off at the end of the day.
This neat hidden desk idea was conceived by architectural designers De Rosee Sa (opens in new tab) and features pivot-sliding pocket doors to hide it out of sight when entertaining or off duty. A striking pattern will inject just the right amount of flamboyance to add energy and foster creativity without dominating, as demonstrated in this study for an apartment by Studio Peake.
Bespoke joinery – from drawers to bookshelf ideas – offers the most practical solution to take advantage of the space available – by some estimates it will allow 40% more room which is vital when designing an office for two. Sophisticated decorative details such as brass trims and handles paired with a small-scale wallpaper strikes a balance between a masculine and feminine space in this home office. Interior designer Suzy Hoodless (opens in new tab) chose a vintage geometric Larssen blind fabric to introduce fun into this workspace.
Investing in good home office seating ideas is essential – a combination of ergonomics and aesthetics is always the aim, but being comfortable is vital.
Key to maintaining a level of professionalism and concentration is the ability to close a door; a wall of glass that lets in light but blocks out noise is also a great solution. This home office by California-based interior designer Ohara Davies-Gaetano (opens in new tab) uses beautiful antique pieces to decorate this space with Provencal flair.
I was mindful of the tonality and textures and selected hues that highlighted the gravel, the old stone and the shades of planting,' says Ohara. Finding the perfectly sized antique or vintage bookcase for your study can be a challenge, particularly if the wall space available is large and you want to make the most of it.
Maria Speake of salvage expert Retrouvius (opens in new tab) employs a reuse before recycle approach, scouring the country for discarded gems that might be re-imagined in different formats.
This fully-adjustable industrial shelving system – which can be configured in a number of ways – was reclaimed from an office and re-homed in this farmhouse, where it beautifully complements the timeless feel.
This garden room idea for an office space is ideal for keeping work and living area separate. If you love intense home office paint colors but still want to create a restful space, go for a deep green, such as the shade above.
A wall of black-and-white photographs in simple frames makes a good backdrop in almost any scheme, while a large blackboard is fun for children – and adults – in a family-friendly study area. So if you don’t have a room to dedicate to an office, know that a well-defined work area will ensure you can still exercise your creativity. The elegant lines of a contemporary desk complement the light setting of a bay window in this living room.
Opt for home office storage ideas that coordinate with your scheme to create a pretty and practical decorative touch.
Choosing an image you love and having it turned into a mural is a great way to add character to an office space. 'A core belief of many designers is that every living space should have a focal point,' says Michael Ayerst, Managing Director at Surface View.
'Wallpaper murals depicting large motif designs fill this role wonderfully, even in small spaces, forcing the viewer to appreciate the artists' intricate detailing at a close range.’ A light-filled converted attic offers the ideal situation for a secluded office, while storage can easily be tucked under the eaves to make the most of unused space.
Accessories in brass and natural blond wood bring textural interest and contrast to a desk top. Take advantage of an interesting architectural detail by converting it into a functional space, giving the hallway a focal point. This striking geometric wallpaper creates an enclosed, intimate feel, enhanced by open shelving that lets the pattern show through. The large-scale pattern of this floor rug makes a design statement, which is balanced by monochrome wallpaper for a harmonious overall effect.
One side of a double reception room in a classic Victorian house has been put to good use a family study. The work table – a glass design, which doesn’t feel bulky in the space – has been placed in the middle of the room so that the two main walls could be lined with bookcases.
This creative studio features book storage ideas and that house both work folders and fabric samples, bringing color to the monochromatic scheme.
The unusual articulated wall-mounted task lights free up desk space and make striking sculptural features in their own right.
To link the two spaces, the decorative and eye-catching Hicks Hexagon wallpaper by Cole & Son has been used with practical furnishings, such as the classic Swan chair by Arne Jacobsen. This home office idea by designer Natalia Miyar doesn't attempt to hide away in this open-plan space – rather it faces into the room from its lofty position.
If your home office is small – or within an open plan space, limiting it to one wall with wraparound shelving is a good, space-saving option. In this situation, use vertical space to your advantage, stacking rarely used files up high and oft-used paperwork to hand.
The owners of this project are travellers, so the designers from Maddux Creative (opens in new tab) gave this area a rather exotic, tropical theme.
The focal point of this space is the 1960s Danish rosewood desk, which is offset by textured walls of split bamboo on grasscloth.
'The house is north-facing, so we had to energize much of it with color, while this room is on the top floor and benefits from enough natural light,' says interior designer Scott Maddux. 'This room is in my own apartment in New York City,' says interior designer Robert Stilin (opens in new tab).
I don’t often host dinners, so it makes no sense to have the dining table taking up all that space and set for the ten times a year it’s used.' 'It’s about embracing and adapting to life as it evolves – using the things you have in a way that makes sense instead of being stuck in some set idea of what has to be,' explains Stilin.
With no external windows, Flower Michelin Architects (opens in new tab) installed a glazed door and wall to allow the office to borrow light from the extension. Using an antique bureau for the desk makes this corner seem less like a place of hard slog but a perfectly beautiful and serene spot to ruminate at leisure.
To stop home offices from feeling too perfunctory, injected warmth and personality with a carefully considered choice of antiques, sculpture and art. Over the years, side returns of Victorian houses have typically been incorporated into the kitchen, but why not hive off a section and convert it into a private workspace instead?
Home offices do not need to be vast to be functional – especially if they have an outlook that gives the illusion of greater space, such as a large picture window, and are flooded with natural light. Where floor space is tight, make the best use of the room’s height by running a long shelf just below the ceiling to store work clutter out of sight.
It may not be to everyone’s liking to work in the middle of what is probably the most high-traffic area of the house, but for those who want (or need) to remain at the centre of the action, this is a smart solution. Commissioning built-in joinery is never the cheapest way to create a workstation, so if you’re going down this route, make it work harder by designing the space for two. Each area should work in isolation, so double up on task lights and be sure the desk is deep enough to accommodate laptops and A4 folders. Here, there’s an added benefit of a radiator on the back wall – it can be hard to stay warm sitting still for hours on end.
'Home offices should be places entirely distinct from your home life,' says designer Matthew Williamson (opens in new tab). 'It wants to have crisp, clear lines, comfort and creative inspiration by way of artwork or patterned wallpaper. Whether your home office space is more of a craft workshop or desk job area, it's important to layer up your surroundings with inspirational objects.
From coffee table books and photos, to plants and trinkets, choose what items you wish to look at everyday that can help you do your best and give your tired eyes a pretty view. If your work space isn't separate from the rest of your home and you have no easy way of blocking it off in the evenings and weekends, go for a minimal approach. Provide yourself with some private respite by adding reading nook – perhaps a comfy armchair and a handy coffee table – when you need a brief screen break without distracting yourself by entering the main areas of the house.
The best way to decorate a home office is with a calming color – or one that you really love and have tried and tested elsewhere – and a layout/scheme that's not too busy – both will aid concentration and make the room feel like a place you can retire to in order to be productive. 'Always opt for more sockets than you think you’ll need and include a charger drawer with power built in for your mobile phone and tablet,’ explains Emma Sims-Hilditch, interior designer, Sims Hilditch (opens in new tab). 'Storage is hugely important – shelving, drawers and cupboards all feature in my home office and each is packed out with the things I need in an attempt to keep my desk space clear. 'Finally, artwork on the walls, a rug on the floor and plenty of house plants will make the space feel welcoming and comfortable. I also have a sofa in my home office, and if I take a long phone call, I'll often move to it from my desk for a change of scene.' Another way to keep your home office looking neat and tidy — and your things easy to access — would be with help from a desk organizer or two.
Alternatively, stash the printer inside a stylish piece of furniture, such as a sideboard, which can have the perfect proportions to accommodate it. Or try putting a white printer on white-painted furniture alongside objects that introduce a pop of color – they’ll draw the eye instead.
Introduce wallpaper into a study to inject a hit of pattern - it will ensure the room remains defiantly on the side of domestic despite the paraphernalia and machinery necessary to support working from home.
If the desk stands within a larger, open-plan space, wallpapering the joinery surrounding it will help zone the work area from the rest of the room.
If you’re concerned that a bold wallpaper design might overpower a small room, panel the lower or upper half of the wall. Blues bordering on grey (such as Studio Green by Farrow & Ball, used in this room) are particularly successful: colour theories suggest that it increases the ability to focus.
Libraries are ideal for those who want to have a learned backdrop for online meetings, but they need not be staid in character or sombre in colour. In this example, K&H Design (opens in new tab) scaled up the atmosphere here by painting the fitted joinery in a bold blue and cladding the chimney breast in hand-marbled bookbinding paper for extra character.