How to plan the ultimate home office

Back to school? Starting a course? You'll need a decent desk space for gathering your thoughts and storing your assignments. Here's what to think about...

home office with grey and white wall and white desk with white drawer unit
(Image credit: TBC)

Whether you're back to school, returning to work after the holidays, moving to at-home working or simply signing up for a life-changing evening class, the room in the house that demands attention right now is the home office. Sadly, not everyone has a back bedroom they give over to a desk and built-in library shelving. But the good news for those short on space is the advent of WiFi and tablets mean it's now possible to connect to the outside world from anywhere in the house. If you run your own business, are freelance or simply need somewhere to keep on top of personal admin, a dedicated office space will make any work-related task that little bit more bearable.

home office with shelf desk and white wall and wooden floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/Paul Massey)

1. Space can be found anywhere

A redundant space on a landing, under the stairs or in a chimney alcove can be configured to accommodate a desk if you only use it for short periods at a time. Alternatively, stash office essentials in a purpose built area, complete with a desk and integrated task lighting. Then at the end of the day it can be shut away out of sight.

home office under stairs with wooden desk and chair

(Image credit: TBC)

If you work from home, however, devoting an entire space to the cause is a sensible plan as a cramped work area can be counter-productive. Consider converting a spare bedroom or even the attic, both of which are far enough from the hub of the house to be a peaceful working environment.

home office with white lamp and white wall and wooden desk and chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katya de Grunwalf)

2. Good lighting is essential
Poor lighting can cause eye-strain, and if the ambience in the room is flat, it can make you less productive. Lots of natural light is your holy grail, preferably from windows rather than skylights.

home office with textured wall and desk with black lamp and chair and ladder shelves

(Image credit: TBC)

A task light such as an Anglepoise is invaluable, too, particularly if you're putting in an evening shift.

home office with white wall and glass desk and chair

(Image credit: TBC)

3. Invest in a good chair

Tempting as it sounds, dragging something from the dining room, or a stool in from the kitchen is a false economy. If you're working for any length of time, you need an office chair that's been designed specifically to support your back properly. Try
Vitra for a design classic or if you're on a budget, Ikea has a good range of affordable options.

home office with white wall and yellow canbinet and desk with violin and globe

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

4. Rethink furniture options
While an office chair is essential, you don't have to only use filing cabinets and office supplies.

home office with white wall and grey desk and locker with pendant lamp and yellow chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

Salvage shelving units and industrial cabinetry give a more homely atmosphere, while being just as practical for storing all your home office essentials.

teal wall and home office and shelves and white desk with chair and orange desk lamp

(Image credit: TBC)

5. Shelves are your friends
Think about the things that you need to store and choose shelves that can be moved and reconfigured if need be. Wall-mounted shelves are ideal, as they increase the feeling of space and are less obtrusive than floor standing bookcases.

home office with blue wall and white picture frame with ladder shelves and wooden floor and desk with chair

(Image credit: TBC)

6. Add some colour
A shot of colour energises and also helps personalise your space (given most regular offices tend to be one-size-fits-all white). If you're creative, strong blues help to get the juices running.

home office with white desk and white wall and picture rail with picture frames and black desk

(Image credit: TBC)

If on the other hand, you need somewhere more relaxing for craft projects, choose a more subdued palette.


Holly Walsh
Content Editor

Holly Walsh has been Content Editor at Ideal Home since 2021, but joined the brand back in 2015. With a background of studies in Interior Design, her career in interior journalism was a no-brainer and her passion for decorating homes is still as strong as it ever was. While Holly has written for most of the home titles at Future, including Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, Homes and Gardens and Style at Home, Ideal Home has always been her ideal home, and she can be found sharing her expertise and advice across both the printed magazine and the website too.