Whether it’s for working from home, tackling admin or encouraging the kids to knuckle down with their homework, more and more of us are looking to incorporate a study area at home. However, very rarely do we have a dedicated room that’s free to turn into a study, so a clever use of space is key.
With thoughtful planning and creativity, almost any space in the home can be turned into a useful home office.
Learn more about organising a harmonious work space with our home office ideas
If you’ve only got a nook or small office zone to play with, make the best use of any vertical space available by building shelving units right up the ceiling and buy a pair of steps to access them if necessary. Also ensure that cable management and integrated task lighting is included if you’re starting from scratch with a bespoke built-in solution.
Don’t be afraid of introducing pattern into a small space behind a desk, as an interesting wallpaper or mural will cleverly distract from a messy desk and can play with the perception of space. If wallpaper isn’t your thing, you could use a pin board or wall-mounted clipboards to make an interesting backdrop to your study area.
Be inspired by more of our small home office ideas below…
1. Transform a dividing wall into a working area
If you have an open plan living space, transform a dividing wall into a computer station. Invest in a narrow tall desk with enough space to balance a laptop and plenty of shelves for storing office supplies.
Instead of buying a purpose desk chair, double up a breakfast bar stool from the kitchen. A pegboard hung above the desk will help free up desk space further.
2. Work under a staircase
If you don’t have an entire room to use as a home office, a well-defined work area is the next best thing. Add a small desk or make one from a simple shelf, or choose bespoke furniture that can be designed to work in awkward spaces.
‘Open-plan offices should complement the rest of the room, so a mix of neutral wood and painted finishes works well,’ says John Walsh, senior designer at Neville Johnson. ‘Open shelving allows you to personalise the space with objects that can be highlighted using internal lights.’
3. Hide your desk inside a cupboard
Transform an old cupboard into a home office that can be opened up whenever you need it. Include a shelf for storage and a board on runners for a keyboard.
Attach pin boards to the inside of the cupboard doors as a place to keep track of to do lists, tickets and postcards.
4. Make a dressing table double up as a desk
If you’re limited on space, using a bedroom as a home office may be the only solution. Making a desk double up as a dressing table makes it a useable furniture piece with a bedroom purpose too.
A narrow, floating desk won’t protrude too much into the room. Pop a mirror on it to transform it into a dressing table. Keep your home office essentials minimal, so you have less to hide away.
5. Utilise the wall space beside the bed
Make the most of every inch of valuable wall space with a wall-mounted unit that doubles as a desk. Simply fasten the bottom half away, to hid all trace of a desk element. With drawers and storage compartments it doubles up a standard bedside unit to place a lamp, book and some fresh flowers. Add a charming small stool for when you’re using it as desk.
6. Keep office clutter behind closed doors
Don’t mix business with pleasure. Ensure your home office doesn’t encroach on your living space by keeping it well hidden. Give office essentials a dedicated storage cupboard, that your can shut the doors on after a long day. Complete the vibe with a trolley you can wheel desk-side and lot of boxes, files and jars to keep it all under control.
7. Soften the look of a functional home office
Don’t compromise on interior style, make the small space work harder within your home. Soften the edges of a functional workspace by incorporating decorative home accessories and plenty of plants.
A cluster of houseplants, in varying heights, leaf shapes and pot textures can help to instantly add an informal feel to a home office.
8. Corner off space to fashion a small home office
No spare room? Then use a corner of your living room for your home office. Traditionally, an office keeps you shut away from the rest of the house, but these days, social and work lives are more closely entwined.
Hang family photos to ensure the space still feels like part of the original room.
9. Work your walls with vertical storage solutions
When space is limited you have to be smart with your storage solutions. Use every space available to you, particularly with vertical storage. From tall bookcases to wall mounted storage, the only way is up to create a clever small home office.
Keeping floors clear and clutter-free will help to create the illusion of more space.
10. Adopt a theme to give your home office personality
Jazz up your home office with a statement wallpaper, even if it’s just a single panel – this small space can handle pattern. This Osborne & Little wallpaper creates a library feel, perfect for a cheery home office.
If you have lots of books, files and paperwork to store, make use of all available wall space with shelving.
11. Turn an outbuilding into a home office
Turning a garden room into a home office is ideal for keeping work and living areas separate. Especially if indoor space is limited. Using one side for correspondence and filing and the other for more creative work helps create a sense of serenity.
And there’s nothing more inspirational than a garden to look out over while working.
12. Adapt an alcove for a smart home office space
Use every inch of space at your disposal. Find space in an alcove in your living or dining room to act as a smart home office area. If you have to use a corner of your living space, invest in a notebook-sized computer that will not dominate. Choose a wooden desk and chair for a classic, unobtrusive look.
Here, the dark wood of the desk matches the room’s colour scheme, tying the look together beautifully.
13. Upcycle existing furniture for a make-shift office
Who says you need traditional office furniture in your workspace? If you’re using the space infrequently you may not want to invest in new furniture, or pieces that feel too ‘office’ like. Even a bedside table can double up as a mini desk if space is tight elsewhere in the house.
Two bedside tables side by side can provide more than enough room. Fit shelves above for display and keep a space clear for your laptop.
14. Utilise otherwise dead loft space to form a savvy office space
Creating a work area in a corner is a great way to make use of otherwise under-used space.
Loft eaves are the perfect example of a space that might otherwise be redundant. It’s often tricky to make use of the half height ceiling, due to the sloping roof. But this awkward design feature provides the perfect place for shelving above a desk.
15. Use white as an airy and calming backdrop
Keep walls white in your home office so you can display photographs and pictures to inspire you. Continue the theme with co-ordinating stand-alone furniture and accessories, such as the desk lamp and shelf unit, for a cohesive feel.
Decorating with soothing white shades not only evokes a calm feel, the blank canvas creates the illusion of greater space.
16. Decorate walls to clearly define an office space
Use the wall space to corner off a clear work zone. A pinboard the same width of your desk ensures the space doesn’t encroach on another living space. Create a comfortable feel by using soft colours such as taupe and greys that are easy to live with and will co-ordinate with other tones.
17. Make a multi-purpose display and desk area
If space is limited in the sense you don’t have a dedicated room or even a corner, create a multi-purpose space. If the desk has to be there make it blend seamlessly into your space by using it to display trinkets and accessories.
Pop a chair underneath in a co-ordinating fabric to make it feel more at home in the space.
A real trend is to have a designated study area in the kitchen right now, so it’s worth making a concealed desk within the kitchen joinery with a drop-down or pull-out desk that can be put away when not in use. It’s a great location with the kitchen being the hub of the home – you can watch the kids getting on with their homework while you prepare the dinner.
Garden rooms are also becoming a more popular solution for creating a dedicated study space, providing peace and quiet away from the main house.