Only a few years ago, working from home was something most of us did sparingly. But how things of changed. Now, and possibly forever, our routines will involve some element of home working – meaning that our home office storage ideas have become more relevant than ever.
As our home office ideas prove, almost any space in our homes can work as a place to do business. But regardless of whether you have a private study, are conference calling from a desk in the bedroom or are working on the kitchen table, good storage will make things a lot easier.
Smart home office storage ideas
Open shelves are a good place to start. They provide easy access to all your bits and bobs, but it’s important to keep them free of clutter. Not just to allow you to find things easily, but also because they are on display for everyone to see.
Wire racks and storage baskets are a good alternative above a desk and add a utilitarian feel. Or try a notice board on which you can pin important notes and papers. These are fairly quick and easy to make yourself with a picture frame and some fabric.
Boxes and letter files are useful additions on your desktop to store items you use frequently. But to stop them looking too business-like, cover them with your favourite wrapping paper, wallpaper or fabric to create a cohesive theme. A storage ottoman or trunk is the perfect place to store your paperwork, but invest in hanging files or separate folders to keep everything separate.
1. Use wall storage to house tech
Squeeze a slimline desk into a kitchen-diner or an alcove, so you’ve somewhere to set up desk on a working-from-home day.
A wire rack makes a handy noticeboard above a desk and with the addition of a few clip-on baskets gives somewhere to store phones and tablets. Position your desk near a power source so equipment can charge while you work.
2. Hide everything away in a ‘cloffice’
The latest WFH trend, a ‘cloffice’ is a combination of ‘closet’ and ‘office’ – or in other words, a desk in a cupboard. A great way of solving all your storage issues in one hit, an office-in-a-cupboard has the added benefit of everything getting hidden away behind closed doors when work is done.
This cupboard has room for a monitor, pull-out keyboard shelf and cupboard space underneath for a printer, plus the addition of a pinboard on each door for notes and reminders.
3. Squeeze desktop storage into an alcove
Make use of an empty alcove if you’re needing to set up desk in a bedroom or living area. A slimline ladder-style desk won’t protrude into a room too much and makes a great landing spot for a laptop or tablet.
Choose a design with several shelves so you have space for books and files and discreet hidden drawers like this one so you can tidy smaller odds and ends away. Consider home office lighting ideas too, to brighten up your work space.
Buy now: Ladder desk, £260, Urbansize
4. Build a wall of storage
Take office storage floor to ceiling with a flexible shelving system that can be tailored to suit your space. Position it adjacent to your desk, so you can grab paperwork and essentials as and when you need it.
Start your set-up with uprights and support brackets to create a framework, then add a combination of shelves, racks, panels or drawers as required.
5. Work with moveable furniture
Keep craft tools and supplies to hand by storing them in a mobile storage cart. Go for a trolley on castors that can be slotted underneath a desk – it can be rolled away out of sight when you’ve finished working.
Choose a tiered trolley to help you keep the contents organised. Plastic cartons and shallow trays inside each tier make great dividers so you can keep small-scale items separate. Try IKEA or Hobbycraft for a similar trolley on wheels.
6. Set up a freestanding family hub
Keep the dinner table free for food prep and mealtimes by squeezing in a mini landing table for the family laptop.
Go for a compact, floor-standing design, with a couple of drawers and shelves for storage and a memo board above for notes and reminders. And make sure to position it by a power source for easy charging.
7. Make a ‘micro’ work space in a corner
If you’re super-pushed for space, consider setting up desk in a hallway or on an upstairs landing. A compact, triangular-shaped desk will slot into a vacant corner and will provide enough space to sit with a laptop or work on paperwork.
Keep a ‘clear desk’ policy and make sure you put everything away when you’ve finished working – cluttered desks will make a room look untidy. A desk with one or two slimline drawers will give storage for paperwork.
Buy now: Arctic desk, £140, Maisons du Monde
8. Keep clutter out of sight
If not kept super-tidy, open shelves can easily look messy, especially if you’re working out of a living room or bedroom.
Corral small-scale clutter away into pretty baskets or decorative storage boxes and stack neatly on shelves. Choose a colour theme that ties in with your decor for a co-ordinated look.
9. Work ‘on-the-go’ with a mobile storage unit
If your WFH set-up varies depending on which family member has nabbed the best spot, then this storage unit on wheels is a brilliant open-plan living room idea. It will keep all your essentials organised and in one place, so you can wheel it into play when you need it, whether you’re working at a desk or from the kitchen table.
There’s space for files and folders at the bottom plus a handy stationery tray for odds and ends on top.
Buy now: Shadow storage unit, £149, Bisley
10. Organise your desktop with see-through caddies
Store stationery, pens and small-scale bits and bobs in clear plastic boxes so you can see where everything is at a glance. These come in a range of sizes and stack neatly on top of each other.
‘Make sure everything has a home, so tidying is something you do almost without thinking about,’ says professional organiser Vicky Silverthorn at youneedvicky.com
‘Desk tidies are useful if they suit your belongings, but not if they’re too small and fiddly. And don’t have excess supplies, bulk buying just creates the need for more storage.’
11. Choose a desk with a drawer to hide that laptop
If you’re working out of your living room, set a ‘clear desk’ policy so that office clutter doesn’t encroach on your living space. Add a desk with a drawer, so that as soon as you are ready to clock off, you can hide your laptop away and not be reminded of that still-to-be-completed to-do list.
12. Set up an easy filing system
‘When it comes to filing paperwork, avoid an over-complicated system,’ says Vicky. ‘Anything too complex requires too much brain power. A good filing system should work with you and not against.’
It could be as simple as a plastic folder with tabs for different aspects of paperwork. Or treat yourself to a desktop unit with a drawer for each aspect of your work life.
13. Free-up desk space with a storage hutch
Desk drowning in paperwork? Free-up some space by opting for an add-on hutch – one of our favourite small home office ideas. Designed to sit on top of a desk, it gives a handy extra layer of storage with easy-access cubbies and drawers that are great for stashing papers and stationery.
Buy now: Hemnes add-on desk unit, £99, IKEA
14. Add colour with cheery stacking crates
Open-sided crates make it easier to get your hands on any essentials inside, like pens or stationery. This collapsible plastic crate comes in a choice of cute colours and can be arranged in a mini stack on a desk or on shelves.
15. Work your wall space
Keep clutter from overtaking a small desk with this feature wall idea. Start with a pinboard as your anchor point and add a couple of wall-mounted pockets and mini shelves dotted around it to hold all your smaller bits and bobs.
16. Go incognito with hidden storage
Double-up with seating and storage combined in this neat filing ottoman. Perfect for a living room or a great bedroom idea, it has a mini memo board on the back of its lift-up lid, plus space for hanging files inside. It can be upholstered in a range of house fabrics and trims or in a customer’s own fabric for a co-ordinated look.
17. Choose chic storage for essentials
‘Prioritise what you have out on your desk – is it something you use frequently or only occasionally?’ says Vicky. ‘I archive anything that I don’t need to put my hands on daily, such as paperwork and equipment, so that only essential items are out and things I use less frequently are put away.’
Store home office must-haves in chic fabric-covered magazine files that match your room decor for a co-ordinated look.
18. Choose a design classic
Keep things stacked with filing cabinets, desk tidies and box files. Here, a tall orange chest lights up this otherwise muted green bedroom cum office – its strong shade is also picked out in the rug to unify the look. Alternatively, pick one just tall enough to slide into the often underused space beneath your desk.
As iconic as an Eames chair or a Smeg fridge, the Bisley is the ultimate filing cabinet. It comes in a smorgasbord of colours and sizes, so there is honesty one for every office. ‘These are my favourite and come in five, ten and fifteen drawer options, so you can choose how many you need to suit your work load,’ says Vicky. ‘And they’re slim and compact so can stand neatly next to a desk or slot underneath it.’
19. House tech in a standalone unit
Store office tech, like printers and hubs, alongside other home media so that electricals don’t take over your living space. This media cabinet has mesh doors that blur tech from view but allow infra-red signals through, so you can still operate equipment. And to avoid a tangle of wires, the back of the cabinet is open for easy cable management.
Buy now: Fjallbo TV bench, £115, IKEA
20. Build your own office set up
Create a tailor-made storage solution to suit your space using modular pieces. Carve out a corner plot or build a whole wall of storage with this off-the-peg system that includes corner sections, ladder shelving and desk add-ons.
21. Double-up in a shared space
If you’re sharing office space with the family, work out a desk and storage arrangement that keeps everyone happy. Desks positioned back-to-back make efficient use of space in a squarish room or try side-by-side desks in a narrow space. Then supplement storage with a slimline under-desk filing unit for each family member.
This could also make a good children’s bedroom idea in a large shared bedroom.
Buy now: Bekant desks, £130 each, IKEA
22. Squeeze in a mini home hub
Slot a micro-sized home office into the tightest of spaces. This clever fold down desk is wall-mounted to save floor space and comes equipped with a light and USB port, as well as a steel back panel that offers storage for office kit. The back panel comes in a range of colours, so you can co-ordinate it to match your room’s decor.
Buy now: Hideaway wall desk, £349, Bisley
23. Keep work life contained
Worried about work clutter taking over your living room? Style it out with an undercover option. This chic oak veneer and rattan bureau with drop-down desk is perfectly sized to work at with a laptop or sit and do paperwork. And then once work is done, office clutter can be hidden away behind closed doors.
24. Repurpose where possible
We’re probably not exactly in a state of mind to pop to Ryman to find desk organisers right now, but we still have storage needs? How about fining an alternative use for all the extra tin cans we’ve amassed as a result of the recent news.
Simply wash out your tin cans after use and use them as cost-effect savvy storage solution. Ensure there no sharp edges of course. Ideal if you have never needed to work form home and suddenly find yourself with a makeshift office. You could also use them in the kitchen for alternative storage ideas.
25. Keep clutter behind closed doors
Out of sight, out of mind is the best motto for a home office. Ensure your work space doesn’t encroach on your living space by keeping it hidden away. Give all your storage a dedicated cupboard with a trolley you can wheel desk-side and lot of boxes, files and jars to keep it all under control.
Not surprisingly, given how many more of us are working from home, it’s becoming one of the hottest kitchen trends of the year – or you could try it in a bedroom.
26. Style it out with beautiful storage boxes
If you don’t want to have your home office impact on the rest of your decor, try using beautiful solutions for storage – so they blend in seamlessly. Use wooden crates, and storage trunks and trinket boxes to hideaway any telltale signs of work papers and other office accessories.
These can be pushed under the desk at the end of each day and won’t look out of place within the interior.
27. Build an inspirational mood board from trellis
Whether it’s a montage of your favourite photos or a shelf full of quirky accessories, group items together to create an inspirational focal point. Based on a garden trellis idea, this wall organiser doubles up as a seasonal moodboard – peg up postcards, paintings and flower-cuttings, adding and taking away items as the year progresses.
28. House your printer in a chest of drawers
Just because you have to have this bulky office gadget handy to get the job done, doesn’t mean it as to impose on your decor. By removing the bottom drawer from a chest of drawers you have the perfect stylish space to house a printer. For an extra decorative touch you can change the legs on the chest, to offer a less ‘officey’ look.
29. Work anywhere with a portable caddy
A portable caddy filled with your stationery is handy for mobile working if you like to switch between sitting by the window for maximum light and the fire for extra warmth.
30. File in style
Stay on top of life admin with filing systems that are as practical as they are pretty. Keep outstanding paperwork in order by storing in desktop drawers, like this vintage set, which is full of rustic charm.
31. Hang a handy wall unit
If you’re lacking space in your home, fashioning an office in a room that might not necessarily be your first choice, such as a small bedroom, might be your only option.
A smart way to tackle storage when space is limited is by keeping it under the radar, with a clever wall storage solution. A wall-mounted unit with a flip-down surface works double as a pop-up workspace and a handy storage unit.
32. Mount a peg board
You could buy an off the shelf board, or have a go at making your own, as we’ve done here. All we used was a piece of MDF cut to size and a drill with a 15mm bit. A two tone paint job, achieved with tester pots completes the job. Cut pieces of dowelling to use to hang Washi tape, scissors and other stationery.
33. Upcycle an old filing cabinet
Next up, a upcycled furniture idea, since you can pick up old filing cabinets in junk shops and flea markets relatively cheaply. A lick of paint and labels or stencils can then turn them into something beautiful.
Or you could check out Maisons du Monde, which sells vintage-style designs that achieve a similar look.
34. Use garden-centre buys inside
This trellis makes a brilliant noticeboard, even though its intended purpose was to support plants. The pots you attach can be used to contain plants that will stimulate creativity. Or they can be handy containers for pens, art materials – even your phone.
35. Panel a wall in cork
Turn your wall into one big pin board with cork tiles. Important paperwork and bills then needn’t pile up on the desk or lie forgotten in a tray, as you can pin it in plain sight, ready to be dealt with. You can pick up cork tiles for a few pounds in most DIY stores, so it’s an inexpensive solution, too.
36. Choose shelves in interesting shapes
Jazz up an uninspiring working environment with interesting structures. These hexagonal storage units are not only a practical shelving idea, but have a cool retro look thanks to their geometric shape. Wallpaper the backs of the shelves in complementary tones to complete the stylish Scandi scheme and sunny walls.
37. Go full width with wall shelves
Wall-to-wall shelving is the dream when it comes to a home office, offering oodles of storage. It does have a tendency to look messy if not styled properly, however. To avoid this, keep to a strict colour palette – in this case monochrome – and use boxes and box files to contain clutter.
38. Go pro with matching furniture
Coordinating pieces like this desk and bookcase say ‘executive’, as well as offering plentiful storage. The trick here is not to put your desk against the wall. Instead, place it in the middle of the room and voila – you’ve made space for a bookcase. For a pop of colour (and fun) choose a large-scale rug with a quirky print.
39. Be practical with industrial storage
This look is surprisingly timeless and will put you in the mood for work. It’s also ideal if you’re not sure how much storage you need, as you can build it up over time – the more mismatched, the better! Stack trunks to store larger items and store stationery in wall-mounted wire baskets so you won’t have to rummage for it in drawers.
If you have the space, invest in purpose-built office storage, such as a dedicated filing cabinet or chest of drawers to keep all your paperwork organised. There are lots of versions around these days that would fit perfectly into a contemporary home office scheme. Try IKEA or John Lewis for a range of affordable options.