Many of us have had to move our offices to our homes over the last year, making do with what little space we have. Maybe you’ve found yourself having to work from home unexpectedly, or perhaps you’ve made the decision to work remotely on a permanent basis. If so, you might be struggling to find a suitable work space for your home office if your house or apartment isn’t very big.
With working from home becoming more common since the pandemic, many of us are having to get creative about how we use small space to house our home offices. With a little imagination and advice, you can turn all manner of limited room into a functional home office.
To help you, here are some tips on designing a small home office space that works for you.
Tip 1: Make use of nook and crannies
Photo by Dominika Roseclay
If you don’t have a dedicated room for a home office, take a look around your house for spaces you might be able to use, here are a few ideas, an area under the stairs, an unused corner of your living room or bedroom, an alcove, or an empty loft space. You could even store your desk and computer inside a large cupboard or closet and just pull a chair up when you need to work.
If you have an outbuilding or shed, you could make this into home offices without too much effort or expense, depending on what you need. A good clean, a lick of paint and some soft furnishings can make it feel welcoming and homely, and you may even add some shelving to help clear the floor area.
If you can’t find extra space anywhere, consider changing the layout of a room to accommodate a small desk and chair (and any extra you need). When you want to switch off and leave work behind, the last thing you want is a reminder of work, you could add a room divider screen or a curtain to hide your home office from view.
Tip 2: Use colour to brighten things up
When designing a small home office, think about using colour to brighten things up if it’s a bit drab or dark. White paint can make a space look bigger as it reflects natural light, or you might want a colour scheme that matches your interior design and the vibe you want to create in the area to set you up for maximum productivity.
Decorating isn’t the only way to transform a home office though. Consider adding colourful accessories and furnishings to add pops of colours in areas, such as bright coasters, plants and art prints, or even a fun mouse mat. Colour can also be used to clearly define your home office area if it’s in your living room or kitchen and set it apart from the rest of the room. This will help you feel like you’re walking into a different zone when it’s time to work, and walking away from it completely at the end of the day.
Tip 3: Creative storage options
One of the problems with designing a small home office space is finding room for storage; you may not be able to fit a cabinet or bookshelf unit next to your desk. In this case, vertical storage will be your saviour.
Place shelving vertically up a nearby wall, and you might even use a larger shelf as your desk if you don’t have any other alternative. Another option is to add some behind-the-door storage like baskets and racks to store books and stationery.
If you have office items you don’t use frequently but need to keep, consider hiding them inside other pieces of furniture that open up, such as futons and coffee tables. You could even make use of spare space above windows to hang items and make a feature of them.
If there’s any space under your desk, use it for small storage boxes or trays. Stackable storage items will give you more options and help maximise the space you have available.
Tip 4: Strategic use of mirrors
An oversized mirror with a small frame is the best way to make cramped areas look bigger as it will reflect a large amount of natural light giving the illusion of more space. Place it at eye level and in alignment with any other wall decorations you have for a modern aesthetically pleasing style.
You may even boost the amount of reflection by placing a lamp or some candles near a mirror to help light up a room and make it look bigger, or set a mirror up opposite a window. If you don’t like large mirrors, you could group smaller mirrors together, or use colourful mirrors to brighten things up.
You may even be able to find a double duty mirror that has some in-built storage or shelving.
Tip 5: Standing workstations
If you’re designing a small office and struggling to find anywhere to accommodate it, a compact and versatile standing desk might be something to consider. You don’t even have to buy a purpose-built one - just make space on any worktop or side table for a laptop if there’s room to stand. Standing is also much better for your health than sitting down for long periods of time.
Alternatively, a portable desk that you can set up and pack away is best - this way it doesn't take up any more desk home office space than necessary.
Now that you know what to look for, go ahead and start planning your home office design. You’ll be surprised how much more productive you can feel after a few simple changes in the way you work! Remember to take time when designing your home office so it has some personality and reflects who are as an individual.