Working from home has changed from being the odd evening or weekend to many of us permanently set up in spare bedrooms, under the stairs or in the corner of living room. Plus now there's hybrid working which means having a home office that's part of your home has become imperative. Whilst a makeshift desk might once have worked on a temporary basis, working from home in the long term requires a more structured and organised approach.
'When it comes to designing a home office, you want it to be practical, functional, inspiring and a cosy space that's set for productivity,' says Anna Hill, brand director and colour consultant, Fenwick & Tilbrook.
Modern home office ideas
Design ideas can have a big impact on modern home office ideas too, with upbeat decor and energising colour combinations that will aid focus and boost creativity.
‘Without a doubt, the colour of your working space will affect your mood and influence how you feel,’ says Helen Shaw, UK Director, Benjamin Moore. ‘Choose colours that make you happy, inspiring drive and creativity and allowing you to stay positive.'
Sleek, streamlined and space-efficient, modern office design bridges the gap between form and function, with work and living spaces that blend easily and stylishly together.
1. Make use of your space
Tight on space but still hankering after a modern home office? You'd be amazed at how you can configure a WFH space in your home with some clever planning and an open mind.
And if you love the contemporary look then keep your storage solutions sleek and streamlined. The key is narrow profiles so look for slim shelves and a matching table top. Choose a chair that's similar, opt for thin legs over chunky and keep your accessories simple.
2. Keep your window treatments simple
A modern home office requires a contemporary window treatment, window film is one option and so are blinds. They can look contemporary if you choose a fabric that matches your colour scheme and is simple in design.
'Dressing large windows in a modern home, especially in a home office, is all about achieving a balance between aesthetics and functionality,' says Debbie Leigh, design manager at ILIV.
'Opting for sleek, minimalist blinds can be an excellent choice. Consider vertical or horizontal blinds in neutral tones or subtle patterns to complement the modern decor. These blinds not only provide privacy and light control but also maintain a clean and uncluttered look, perfect for a home office where focus and productivity are key.'
Debbie is an expert in creating beautifully coordinated fabric collections that can be easily combined to create harmonious interior schemes. With more than 10 years of experience, she takes every design from conception right through to the finished textile - inspired by the latest trends and techniques from every continent.
3. Colour block your office space
If you're tucked away in a corner then use paint to create a statement, two colours will do the trick, paint your desk and shelving in one shade so it's all encompassing and the other wall in another colour.
'Creating a colour-block wall not only adds interest but is an effective tool for zoning a particular area,' says Helen Shaw, director of marketing at Benjamin Moore. 'This works well for a home office where you may want to isolate the desk area itself. Why not channel your most desired travel destinations and opt for a mix of lush and tropical colours to accomplish an exotic feeling all year round.'
4. Opt for Scandi styling
Scandi style is contemporary, making it an ideal choice for a modern home office. Easy on the eye with its practical simplicity you can keep colour to simply white and blond wood – which adds warmth and prevents the look from being too stark.
Add in a textured sheepskin for your chair and invest in a pinboard for those useful reminders.
5. Mid-century modern style
If you want a modern home office but not sure about the minimalistic aspect, then consider sitting in the middle with mid century modern design instead. Ever popular and beautiful to look at, it bridges the gap between classic and contemporary.
'Embrace clean, minimalist lines, natural materials and iconic furniture pieces synonymous with the era (think Eames chairs or Saarinen tables). Try and maximise natural light through large windows and use houseplants to help bring the outdoors in. Opt for warm, earthy colours with bold pops of colours and prioritise functionality with ergonomic furniture and smart storage. This will allow you to create a balanced, productive and inspiring space, whilst capturing the essence of mid century design,'
6. Choose contemporary shaped furniture
Choose furniture with clean lines in pale wood that although modern in style, have visual design elements that will last for decades – and remember, a pop of colour like a matt painted storage unit will add a new dimension.
'Craftsmanship, honest materials and a pared-back aesthetic allow these pieces to be mixed successfully with traditional or classic interiors whilst introducing a modern element,' says Simon Temprell, interior design manager, Neptune. 'This kind of eclecticism will help to make a room feel less rigid and more transitional.'
7. Play with colour within the space
Choosing a colour scheme for a modern home office can be tricky especially if your'e sharing the space with the kitchen, living room or bedroom. The key is to pick a colour or two that can work across a scheme.
'The harmonious combination of yellow and blue requires a thoughtful balance of colour psychology and interior design, and using these two hues can create a visually striking and emotionally comforting workspace,' says Anna Hill, brand director and colour consultant, Fenwick & Tilbrook.
'Yellow has a warm and cheerful nature, and is ideal for use in a home office as it can bring in a sense of optimism and creativity. It evokes a feeling of vibrancy without overwhelming the space, and when combined with the calming and introspective nature of a deep blue, can create a sophisticated contrast that adds depth and richness. For the best effect, place these colours strategically and be sure to choose the right shades of blue and yellow. Use muted shades of yellow and deeper tones of blue to create a space that is energising, easy on the eye and set for comfort.'
8. Be decorative
Just because you're opting for a modern home office it doesn't mean you can't use bold pattern. Wallpaper in an office is a big trend currently so it seems a shame not to use it on at least one wall right?
Choose a design that's in a single colour but with a chunky linear design and use it behind an open shelving unit, that way you can still see the print through it. Pick a chair in the same colour for a touch of cohesion.
9. Stick to one shade
There's nothing wrong with using one colour throughout your modern home office and teaming with a crisp white desk and chair.
'Keeping the colour scheme simple provides a chic, minimalist base to a room, creating the perfect backdrop for your favourite furnishings and accessories,' says Helen Shaw. 'Move away from the ease of opting for white everywhere and opt for Savannah Green 2150-30 walls in a home office for a citrus-infused take on the traditional earthen-green workspace.'
10. Tactile neutrals will create a calming space
Start with a white desk and chair as they'll both act as a blank canvas and help to keep a smaller space feel larger. Then start to add warmth by choosing neutral textures like ply storage boxes and baskets.
If it gets too cluttered it will stop being modern and end up being maximalist – so pick your storage and accessories carefully. Plants are a great addition asa they add life and texture.
11. Use colour to cancel out distractions
Paint walls, window frames and trims in the same shade throughout to create a calming backdrop with the desk as the focus. A useful technique for small home office ideas and busy spaces, having no break in colour helps to reduce visual contrasts and blur the boundaries, making small spaces feel bigger and easier on the eyes.
‘Blues and greens are a great choice for anyone who needs to boost their concentration whilst working from home,’ says Helen Shaw at Benjamin Moore. ‘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 great choice for calming the mind and encouraging focus.’
12. Zone in on your work space
Whether you’ve a dedicated home office or your desk set-up is in a shared space, try an easy paint treatment for your home office wall decor ideas that will make the desk the focal point. Choose a bold paint colour and paint a deep contrast band to span the wall space behind your desk. Make the band roughly 35-45cm deep and position it at mid level so that it will act as a backdrop for shelves, wall planner and noticeboard.
When using a bold contrast colour, such as a vibrant green like this, keep the rest of the scheme clean and unfussy in comparison. Stick to white walls, flooring and desk with just a few black accent pieces - the room will immediately look bright and modern and anything you add, from furniture to plants and accessories, will pop out against the backdrop.
13. Co-ordinate your desk decor
In a shared space such as a living room or dining area, choose a desk that complements the decor and blends in, rather than immediately standing out as ‘office’ furniture. A slimline console-style desk is neat and unobtrusive with drawers that will house a laptop and paperwork when work is done for the day. Decorative wall cubbies provide extra storage overhead and can be lined with patterned wallpaper for a co-ordinated look in and out of office hours.
‘Clear your work space at the end of each day,’ says Vicky Silverthorn, professional organiser at Youneedavicky. ‘If you don’t have a designated office and your desk is in a living area, change it’s look by putting a plant on top, or perhaps a scented candle or vase of flowers, something to symbolise that work time is over.’
14. Supersize your office calendar
Make a statement with a chalkboard wall calendar that will add wow to any modern office scheme. Meetings and appointments can be easily chalked on (and wiped off) and by painting the entire wall in chalkboard paint there’ll be plenty of space for other thoughts and musings.
To create different coloured squares, all that’s needed is black and white chalkboard paint, mixed together in different quantities to create several shades of grey. Then simply mark out your grid and fill in the squares with paint, alternating the tones to create the graduated effect.
15. Go green to boost creativity
A desk positioned facing a wall can be uninspiring, so counter this with your paint ideas by using an uplifting colour that will energise your work space. Green is the colour of nature and is said to bring balance, calm and boost creativity - and because we see so much around us, green causes less eye strain and helps our focus and attention.
Make green feel fresh and modern in a home office scheme by partnering it with glossy white furniture and crisp white paintwork to bounce light around and make the room feel more spacious. Add in accents of black here and there to give the scheme extra edge and definition.
16. Increase the sense of space
Doubling up with a desk in a box room or spare bedroom might be the only option if space is super-tight, but there are tricks and techniques that can boost the sense of space if you feel particularly hemmed-in.
Keeping the room light and bright is the first step. An all-white colour scheme will make any small room feel stacks bigger and works perfectly with modern home office ideas. Increase the sense of space further by keeping window treatments to a minimum or opting for sheers and voiles that will let extra light in. Clear acrylic furniture and strategically-placed mirrors will all help to bounce light around the space too.
‘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,’ says Helen Shaw at Benjamin Moore. ‘Highlighting focal areas such as bookcases or woodwork in a complementary colour draws the eye and adds interest.’
17. Have fun with modern brights
If an all-white scheme doesn’t pack enough punch, then adding a splash of colour around the desk area is an easy way of perking up modern office decor without too much extra effort.
A simple DIY border just below ceiling height or mid-way down the wall will add just enough decoration and colour without overpowering the room. Create the border by painting two rows of circles in complementary colours, drawing around a plate as a template and filling in the paint colour using a small brush.
18. Take a tiered approach
Too much clutter can quickly ruin a modern aesthetic, so incorporating home office storage ideas into your set up is a must if your work involves lots of kit, paperwork and other office essentials.
Space-savvy modular systems are a practical choice allowing you to tailor storage to suit the available space and room layout. Less-costly than built-in storage, there’s also the benefit that furniture can be shifted into another room and added-to at a future date should more office space become available. Sectional storage like this also works well in a loft or under-stairs space, with units arranged in tiers to step up the height.
19. Create a micro office
Making use of transitionary spaces, such as hallways and upstairs landings is a great way of carving out a work area if you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated home office. A narrow desk is easy to tuck into a gap or unused corner or consider a space-saving triangular desk or L-shaped set-up to maximise the space more fully. And factor in drawer or cupboard storage if you can, so that work clutter can be stashed away for a neat and tidy look out of work hours.
20. Go big with greenery
If it won’t prove too much of a distraction, position your desk by a window so that you can make the most of a view outdoors while you work. If that’s not possible, bring the outdoors in and include plenty of mood-boosting house plants and greenery in and around your desk space.
Aside from their air-purifying qualities, having plants in a work space can help to boost creativity and increase productivity. Paint walls in tonal greens to create a calming backdrop and add open shelves to organise office kit and stage a display of greenery.
What should I put in my home office at home?
This will depend on how big your home office is, but the essentials will be a desk, chair and lighting. If you have enough space for storage then do consider it, Ikea do chest of drawers that fit under desks or you could pop up some open shelving above your desk.
Keep things to a minimal if you can, a modern home office will naturally be more streamlined due to its contemporary look.
How can I make my home office look more modern?
Simplicity is key when it comes to any modern home office scheme. Furniture should be sleek and streamlined, clean-cut and shapely, with simple pieces that complement and blend in or bold designs that stand out and make a statement. Forget fussy frills and unnecessary extras, modern style is all about a pared-back look and considered detailing, where less is definitely more.
How do you decorate a modern home office?
Calm neutrals, energising brights or moody darks can all work well in a home office but whichever palette you go for, keeping to just a few key shades is the key to making it work in a modern scheme. Too many colours will fight for attention and assault the senses, while paring it back to just a few will create a sharper aesthetic.
Likewise, bold prints and fussy florals can also provide too much contrast and visual distraction, so are best avoided in a modern home office scheme. Instead, opt for tailored stripes, understated prints and simple geometrics that will add just a hint of subtle pattern without overpowering the effect.
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Lisa is Deputy Editor of Style at Home magazine and regularly contributes to sister title Ideal Home. She has written about interiors for more than 25 years and about pretty much every area of the home, from shopping and decorating, crafts and DIY to real home transformations and kitchen and bathroom makeovers. Homes and interiors have always been a passion and she never tires of nosying around gorgeous homes, whether on TV, online, in print or in person.
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