The way we work has changed. Ticking through your professional to-do list in a home office is no longer the sole domain of self-made business people and freelancers. It’s now a fact of life for many — with pros and cons.
The potential downsides to remote working — never switching off, lack of separation between your personal and professional lives, difficulties with focus, negative work habits — can be alleviated with a fit for purpose home office space. It’s important to have a safe, calming work environment, in order to achieve balance.
We’ll show you how to achieve your perfect home office space through excellent interior design that suits everyone’s budget and style.
Understanding Your Home Office Space
With any space, it is of primary importance to identify the purpose and focal point. The likelihood is that your desk will serve as the focal point in your home office — the central hub of all activity. If you nail this central starting point, the joy of interior design is that you are free to play around with the surrounding positive and negative space as you wish. As long as a certain degree of equilibrium is met between these, your home office should work for you.
When you have your space squared off, start by creating what’s called a bubble plan - a simple, sketched design of the layout of the home office and its functionality. Consider light, space, warmth, comfort, logistics. Think of it like a seating plan at a wedding.
This should also take into account the scale and proportion of the space you have to work with and the objects and items you intend to include in the space. Use the Golden Ratio — as manifested in nature and mathematically applied throughout architectural and design history, starting with the Great Pyramids — to help create the desired harmony.
In design, it states you should fill roughly 60% of the three-dimensional space, leaving approximately 40% of the two-dimensional floor space, giving ultimate balance no matter your space.
Your Small Space Home Office
Whether you’re working from a small nook in a city-centre flat, adapting an alcove, squeezing into a tiny spot under the stairs, converting a spare cupboard space, or simply utilising what empty walls you have to create a work zone, there’s an interior design solution to suit your needs.
Firstly, it’s key to use both your horizontal and vertical space, maximising both dimensions, and utilise dual-purpose furniture where possible. Try a ladder or wall-mounted desk with drawers and incorporate a floor-to-ceiling shelving design. This works particularly well in apartment spaces and can be achieved stylishly by taking inspiration from industrial, Scandinavian or minimalist aesthetic trends.
This minimalist approach should help first-time interior designers avoid clutter and claustrophobia. Aesthetically, the world is your oyster.
But here are some quick pointers to get you started: Light colour schemes give the appearance of space and hanging plants helps to circulate air through contained areas. Keep your office chair simple and compact — small enough to tuck under your desk — but comfortable.
No room for a chair? Make a custom height desk with cheap wood and brackets to fashion your own bespoke standing workspace. Furnishings of a similar colour to the walls allow the eye to travel easily, giving the impression of more space. Alternatively, transparent lucite has become a popular material for small spaces — it’s also wipe-clean so could double as a dressing table.
For work setups with very little desk or floor space, consider mounting your desktop, monitor and light fixtures to the wall.
For more experienced interior designers — or those of you with a particularly keen eye and sense of style — it’s a great idea to decorate your walls to clearly define the working space, especially when it’s shared with spaces where you spend leisure time.
Put up a stylish pegboard, inspiring artwork, mirrored accents, or stylish lights to add a bright spark to your creative spot.
How To Light Your Home Office
Of course, Interior Design 101 teaches us that lighting is key to a good, functional, happy space in which to live — and now work. Good lighting can transform a space and your mood within it.
Position your home office in a bright spot, ideally facing a window. This way, you’ll get all the benefits of natural light — including prevention of eye strain — as well as a nice view and none of the residual screen glare.
If this is not possible, fear not. A good lighting plan can create the perfect mood for your home office. Utilise a combination of task lighting — placed specifically to spotlight certain areas, such as a low-hanging pendant light over your desk, a table lamp, or strategically placed track or recessed lighting strips — ambient lighting and accent lighting.
Use LED lights where possible; the bulbs don’t heat up as much and are more sustainable than incandescent or halogen.
Your Home Office Colour Scheme
While white may seem the obvious choice to paint your office space due to its sleek, inoffensive, professional connotations — probably the reason companies like Apple opt for white for their branding — if you’re creating a space for you to enjoy, you might want to choose something that provides a little more stimulation.
For example, green is a colour widely associated with restful creativity, due to its abundance in nature during periods of growth and rebirth. If you’re hitting a wall in terms of your work, maybe a green wall — or at least green accents — could be your answer. It is both soothing and energising and looks great with a variety of colours, textures and aesthetics.
Meanwhile, yellow is an optimistic colour that can improve your concentration, as long as it’s paired properly with its surroundings. As an added benefit, it is generally associated with happiness and joy — but it’s a divisive colour most of your colleagues or clients will either love or hate on those video chats.
If you want to impress the majority on video calls, deep blue is a designer-approved option that connotes meditative thinking and strength, simultaneously showing you mean business while avoiding the trap of appearing drab. As the colour of the mind, it has time and again proved itself to be the world’s preference.
However, if blue is not your cup of tea, grey tones can work in a similar manner. Grey is, after all, the colour of balance and can be easily paired with bright accent colours to add personality. Black also makes for a reliable and professional touch, but sometimes seems cold, so browns and beiges can offer a warmer option if you want to stick to neutrals.
If you’re setting up your office in a space with a draught, it might be beneficial to paint the walls a warmer, pastel tone such as terracotta, peach or soft pink. Psychologists say it can actually trick your brain into thinking a space is warmer than it is. An additional benefit of pink is that it is calming. Meanwhile, orange is a mood-booster for those Monday morning slumps. Too much orange, though, and you could be venturing into frivolity unbefitting of a work environment.
Likewise, if you’re working from a space prone to overheating, try cool aquas or teals to help alleviate discomfort. They compliment both wood and white furnishings well and promote productivity.
Avoid red; it has been shown to reduce analytical thinking and boost aggressiveness. Equally, purple or violet — while sometimes connoting spirituality, confidence and finery — can be a little distracting and even associated with loathing, disgust and boredom when overused or used in a jarring manner.
If you’re sharing your space with little ones who might need a distraction while you work, or you work in a creative industry, why not try white, dry erase paint or blackboard paint and turn your wall into an additional workspace?
Either way, create a colour mood board to help the planning process, grab some sample pots, and get testing!
How To Keep Your New Home Office Clear of Clutter
They say a clean room promotes a clean mind — and your mind is your best asset to have a great day at work every day. It’s important when considering the functionality of your home office to account for organisation and storage.
Here are some handy tips that will help in larger and smaller office spaces alike. For cable and power management, velcro an extension cord to the underside of your desk and cable tie wires together to keep them tucked away. You can also add a pull-out keyboard drawer or a clip-on desk organiser to your working surface to elevate space and tidiness.
Consider bespoke storage options that keep all your work equipment tucked away — such as drawers, shelving or even a bookcase. If there’s no room for these additional storage options, invest in aesthetically pleasing portable storage options that align with your vision for the room and you don’t mind looking at every day. There are some beautiful and affordable stationery and storage options on the market.
It’s also important to be able to leave your work at your desk when you clock off, so make sure you incorporate enough storage to be able to tidy the trappings of your working day away at the end of each day. If there’s no room for floor-standing storage, try a foldaway desk, a room divider, or hanging a curtain between zones.
The Finishing Touches to Your Home Office
Texture and pattern are key to elevating any room. For a more formal home office set up, try smooth fabrics such as satin, silk, and velvet. Heavier weaves, wool and cottons are more casual and comfortable. Use a rug to boost your desk as the focal point and soften its, no doubt sharp, edges.
Accentuate any existing features such as a brick wall with an offsetting soft but complementary texture. Don’t be afraid of patterns. As long as you choose one that won’t cause headaches in its presence for a full working day, patterns can open up rooms and give them a pleasing structure.
Here are some ideas to elevate your interior design and craft your way to the home office of your dreams:
- Invest in an exercise zone, even if it’s just keeping a yoga mat closeby, to boost your endorphins on days when you’re flagging
- Hang a chair, hammock or even a swing for those tea breaks
- Craft wood panelling as a statement wall to add elegance
- Add a tea and fruit station to keep you fuelled for the day
- Install a secret bookcase
- Use sensory furnishings and light to create a chill-out area
- Make your home office a social media-free zone (unless it’s your job!)
- Try adding crystals, for productivity and tranquillity, to your decor
- Invest in smart tech like voice command lighting and speaker systems
- Make extra space for your family or roommates to work alongside you
- Invest in beautiful and inspiring artwork
- Make space for your pet or add a fish tank
- Take your indoor office outdoors with a bespoke garden pod for extra peace and quiet
- Install a pull-down greenscreen backdrop to elevate your video calls
- Make space for musical instruments or your hobbies
- Grow houseplants in your workspace
- Hang soundproof doors
- Make space for your work rituals, whatever they may be
Most importantly, trust your eye and your instinct — and have fun. After all, once you’re finished interior designing your perfect home office, playtime is over!