Home office ideas – 15 study set-ups that work as hard as you do

Tick every item off your project to-do list with these inspirational office design ideas.

As more and more of us enjoy the luxury of taking on work or projects from home, we get the ultimate say about our home office designs.  

But, as any specialist workplace designer will tell you, there’s more to home office ideas than choosing the perfect coffee machine. Although we might not be harvesting crops from sunrise to sunset, desk work has its own health risks, such as back pain, eye strain, neck pain and repetitive strain injury – ailments that can be prevented and managed through good home office design. 

Christopher Webb, founder of Home Office Life, says: “Designing a home office that provides comfort, encourages productivity, and reduces fatigue is crucial for remote workers’ wellbeing. Making good use of ergonomic furniture, proper lighting, and an organised workspace are key factors to consider when designing a home office.” 

So if your current home office isn’t fulfilling its role, here’s how to make it fit for promotion. 

1. Create a custom garden office

Skip the stairs and enjoy maximum accessibility outdoors

Home office by Garden AffairsCredit: Garden Affairs

When considering home office ideas, the first thing on your mind should be location, location, location. Why? Going up and down stairs all day, every day, gets exhausting at the best of times – throw in juggling papers, files and a phone and it can get downright dangerous. 

And if you’re dealing with mobility, sight or balance issues, the problem only gets worse. 

One solution may be to position your home office on the ground floor, but if it’s a hightraffic area, you might find your workdays plagued by distractions. 

There may be a better option. Your garden. 

Garden home offices aren’t only step-free but can be customdesigned for your optimal productivity. Decide everything from where your sockets are placed to what insulation you have and pick paint colours and flooring you love. You’re in the driving seat. 

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Walls aren’t the only place for homeoffice sockets. If you’re designing your workspace from scratch, consider adding handy socket outlets in your drawers, on table sides and within joinery for easy access. 

2. Control clutter with fitted furniture

Maximise your floor plan for a highly accessible space

Claremont InteriorsCredit: Claremont Interiors

The enemies of good home office design are clutter and trip hazards. In fact, a recent government report into workplace injuries showed that in 2021-22 there were 565,000 non-fatal accidents annually, with 30% caused by trips and falls. 

If you have a room to spare, a whole room with dedicated built-in storage means that clutter is well and truly contained. 

A custom built-in home office design considers every possible inch of storage and it can be a life changer if a home office needs as much clear floor space as possible for a wheelchair. 

Not only are clutter-free walkways and pathways considered in detail, but issues with hanging cables or dangerously positioned extension cords are solved by professional designers. Every piece of paper and your printer has a wellthoughtout home. 

As with garden offices, an extra advantage is that you get to create your most pleasant working environment by choosing what colours and surfaces end up in your finished space. 

You can approach your home office design styling much the same way as you approach the look of your kitchen. You can even opt for the ever-popular Shaker style joinery. 

3. Pop an office under the stairs

Built-in storage gives even the most awkward space home office potential

SharpsCredit: Sharps

Awkward spaces, like tough work problems, call for clever thinking. When it comes to your home office design, Sharps gives a great example of how thinking out of the box (room) can yield beautiful results. 

Whether under stairs or in a tricky loft, built-in storage can be tailor-made to the available space, giving you optimal opportunities to stash your clutter. 

We like how the paint colour has been used to tie the workspace in with the rest of the hallway. The design looks seamless and unobtrusive. 

The decorative accents used to style this work area help make it attractive and functional. Check out our advice for styling shelving.  

4. Build around a base unit

Consider ramping up on the drawers

IkeaCredit: Ikea

Customfitted joinery for your home office design isn’t the only way to make sure your work isn’t hampered by clutter and lack of organisation. 

The good news is that excellent pocket-friendly solutions for home office storage do exist and they’re practical and attractive to boot. 

Start building your home office around a base of drawers. Why? Drawers might be more accessible, especially where hand dexterity may be a problem. Plus, cabinets can get overstuffed and easily become chaotic to navigate. Drawers are easier to keep clutter free. 

If possible, choose softclose drawers that are easier to open and close.  

Once you’ve selected your drawers, you can opt to bring some cabinets and shelving to your home office design. In cases where grip needs to be considered, skip the knobs and opt for wide pulls that are easy to grasp. 

Take an audit of the items that you will use most often and keep them at waist height. Ideally try to avoid drawers and cabinets that are too low down, to avoid bending constantly throughout the day. 

Featured product

Alex Drawer Unit on Castors, Ikea

RRP: £150

Alex Drawer Unit on Castors, Ikea

5. Hide your office with a curtain

Preserve your mental health with a partition

Credit: Scavullo Design

No matter how beautiful your workspace setup, if your mental health is being compromised by an off-kilter work / life balance, you won’t be at your best. 

Switching off at the end of the working day is a way of recognising and respecting your needs. If you don’t have a home office that can be shut away behind closed doors, you may need to get inventive with your partitioning. 

One simple and cost-effective option is to use a curtain partition. By simply drawing the curtains at the end of the workday you will create a visual divide between your work and relaxation quarters. 

This is particularly important if your bedroom is within the sight line of your home office. The temptation to get up and indulge in some late-night work is far from the list of healthy sleeping habits that keep you healthy. 

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Curtains to encompass your workspace can also come in handy if you want to enjoy some privacy. Try noise-reducing lined curtains or heavy fabrics such as velvet if acoustics are important. 

6. Carve out a corner of the bedroom

Work, play and sleep in harmony

SharpsCredit: Sharps

If working in your bedroom is a must – whether it’s you or a guest tapping away – make laptop time as cosy as sleep time. No one wants a bedroom that is haphazardly strewn with work materials and cables. Having work paraphernalia neatly housed and hidden away when not in use will really help maintain healthy sleeping habits. 

Having a fitted wardroom design and coordinated desk will make for a visually seamless design that feels less cluttered than a freestanding desk. 

Rachal Hutcheson, national retail manager at Sharps, says: “If your bedroom is now also your working area, a clutter- free tidy desk space, in a previously unused corner, will aid a healthy work/ life balance. Opting for a built-in desk solution, with the same design as your wardrobes, will create a cohesive look, whilst having the desk near cupboards allows for easytoreach office storage and helps to maximise productivity.” 

7. Protect your eyes with the right workspace lighting

Pile on the decorative and functional lighting to aid your work

Credit: Library Ladder Company

Preserving our eyesight is a major consideration when designing a home office. 

After the age of 40, our eyesight naturally gets worse as our lenses start to yellow and become more rigid. Functional, layered lighting that considers the natural eyesight changes that occur over time, can help to  make your home office a more productive space. To counter the yellowing effect, it’s better to use bulbs with a lumen level of at least 1300 – this is around the incandescent level of a 100-watt lightbulb. 

Thought should be given to reducing shadows, reflections and glare, and the Lighting Research Centre recommends providing an abundance of lighting options, including task and undercabinet lighting. They also suggest installing fixtures directly over work areas. 

Try incorporating flexible adjustable lamps that can be pushed and pulled to be directed in specific spots when needed. A simple addition like a desk lamp on your work surface can make a big difference. 

Over 60? Find out about discounts on glasses and eye tests that are available to you through a Boots Advantage card .

8. Take advantage of natural light

Locate your office to maximise the sun’s feel-good rays

Nobody needs convincing that sunlight has a huge positive impact on our mood. When you are stuck indoors working for hours on end, having a room flooded with natural light can make you feel more upbeat. 

It’s also beneficial for your eyes, as our need for light increases as we age, to the point where people over the age of 60 need up to three times more light to be able to read comfortably. 

Having a home office with a great big window can help, and although you may need to play around a bit until you find the perfect set up to balance natural light with glare, a good rule of thumb is to have natural light in front of, or directly next to, your home office desk. This will help to avoid a glare on your computer screen. 

Also try positioning your desk facing north or south so that you’ll have fewer shadows thrown across your computer during the day. 

Have a conservatory? If you’re after great natural lighting you could do a lot worse than creating an office conservatory. 

9. Get ahead with high contrast colours

Take a cue for your home office from dopamine decor

Credit: Dwell

As an interior designer, if I was designing a workspace for a client over 55, I’d be sure to incorporate lots of nice colour contrast in the home office design. 

Why?  

For one thing, once we hit a certain age, our eyes can fall victim to colour contrast sensitivity. Lots of higher contrast elements in our workspaces can help us to see, and therefore work, better. 

Then there’s the matter of bright popping colours to create that famed dopamine decor effect. Why grind it out in grey when you can revel in royal blue? 

Try selecting furniture that contrasts with wall colours instead of white walls with a white desk and white shelving. 

Have fun picking out furniture pieces in lively colours – we like the cheery blue hue of the Viggo Desk, available through Dwell. 

Featured product

Vigo Desk, Dwell

RRP: £299

Vigo Desk, Dwell

Pastels are particularly tough for ageing eyes to discern. Colours on the warmer end of the spectrum – such as reds and oranges – are better for people with colour deficiencies. 

10. Opt for a multifunctional home office desk chair

Consider investing in home office furniture up to your multi-tasking lifestyle

Credit: Vela

More than ever, work life happens alongside everyday life. This is especially true if you have an office based in your home – chances are you are going to dedicate some of your day to regular domestic demands. 

Manufacturers have recognised the shift in working patterns and produced new designs that make sure that your chair is more than just for sitting. 

Take, for example, Vela office chairs. This cleverly engineered seating is perfectly at ease at your home office desk, but those who need a little more support will be impressed with nifty features like a built-in lift. 

Take it with ease from your office to your kitchen or your bedroom.  

Shireen Ismail, a registered osteopath at Verdure Clinic who holds a MSc osteopathic medicine, says: “The key to optimum health in any office space is movement. Or I would like to call it “wobblying”. There are a number of seating options that ensure movement rather than static positions while working at a desk. These can range from wobble cushions, gym balls to wobble chairs, or anything else your imagination can drum up.” 

Wondering what some of your options are other than traditional office seating? Take a look at these four alternative office chairs. 

11. Get in the right position with a height adjustable desk

Support your back

Credit: Fezibo

It’s easy to forget to stand when you are working, and this can spell disaster for your back.  

For those days when a lunchtime walk isn’t possible, one solution is to have a home office desk that lets you both sit and stand while typing away.  

Some adjustable desks, like this one by Fezibo, are adjusted at the press of a button. This is your best bet for a seamless transition from sitting to standing without any grunt work. 

Make your desk a multitasking machine by looking for options with extra features, such as built-in storage accessories, an extra shelf, or a keyboard drawer, to give you even more control over your sitting posture. 

Simon Hall, a chartered sports and exercise physiotherapist at Complete Physio, says: “One of the biggest challenges for our back, neck, and overall health when we shift to working from home is the decrease in incidental activity that comes with it. When it comes to the workfromhome set up, besides ensuring a comfortable desk and chair set up, it’s important to put strategies in place to keep moving.  

“A sittostand desk is a great way to mix up your positioning and change from sitting to standing regularly. Beyond that, consider walking around the room whilst on a work call, or setting an alarm for every 30-60 minutes of desk time to remind yourself to get up and move around. People often spend a lot of effort on getting the perfect set up, and sitting in the perfect posture, but the body is not designed to stay in any position for too long. Regular motion will do far more for you than any perfect posture will!” 

Featured product

Brasa Electric Standing Desk with Upper Drawer, Fezibo

RRP: £189.99

Brasa Electric Standing Desk with Upper Drawer, Fezibo

12. Choose safe flooring options

But don’t overlook cosy comfort

Crucial TradingCredit: Crucial Trading

Hardwood floors are a natural go-to when it comes to flooring for your home office design. But there are some cosier – and quieter –  ideas to consider. 

Lowpile walltowall carpeting will certainly ramp up the comfort levels and create a less noisy working environment. It’s also a safer option for your home office than a rug, which can potentially be a slip hazard. Opting for a low-pile carpet also means your wheeled desk chair will run smoothly across it. 

Depending on whether you want a more corporate or creative look, opt for a neutral design or a jazzier option, such as this “Fabulous” carpet by Crucial Trading. 

Carpet in your home office is only one way to make your working space cosier. Here are a few other inspirational options to make your workspace nice and snug. 

13. Control the temperature of your workspace

Temperature discomfort can impact productivity

Kichler fanCredit: Kichler

If you live in the UK, you know that planning a home office design that is all-weather is a must.  

It might seem self-evident to plan for colder months, but as climate change rears its head, heat is increasingly becoming a consideration too, meaning fans are making their way on to the design agenda. 

If you can, choose a heating and cooling system for your home office that you can easily master – features such as a programmable thermostat or a ceiling fan are worth considering, to get maximum comfort out of your home office. 

Do you prefer a more low-tech solution on sweltering days? We’ve tried and tested the best desk fans on the market for keeping you cool under pressure. 

14. Create a portable micro-office

Don’t let a lack of square footage cause you to lose focus

NeptuneCredit: Neptune

Office in a dresser, anyone? From antique secretary desks and Georgian bureau bookcases to this modern Neptune “Chichester” workstation, each generation has found its own way to pack work life into one compact piece. 

The idea is to find a corner to do your work by day, then when night falls you can close the doors and have nothing but a beautiful piece of unassuming carpentry. 

Neptune’s classicallyinspired dresser features handy top section shelves with space for anything from books to a small printer. A false drawer front conceals a pull-out desk.  

We like the cheerful sunny yellow colour, guaranteed to make even a gloomy Monday morning seem brighter. 

Featured product

Chichester Deluxe Workstation, Neptune

RRP: £3,280

If you can get your hands on an antique bookcase with an inset desk, by all means, buy it. Marvel at your leisure at painstakingly crafted fitted interiors with various drawers and compartments. eBay and 1stDibs are good places to hunt for these pieces of home office furniture. 

15. Pop a sofa into your workspace

It’s a handy option for a power nap

Credit: Habitus Living

Recently a team of scientists published research with the finding that there’s a causal association between habitual daytime napping and larger total brain volume”. 

In short, you deserve to inject a bit of shut eye into your nine-to-five routine. But, how to discreetly catch a few zzz’s without an innocent nap turning into a full-blown dream fest? Whatever you do, don’t head to bed. Instead, have a sofa in your home office. 

The idea is to get comfortable, but not too comfortable – we’d recommend setting a 30minute alarm. 

Interested in more tips on how to nap like a pro? Our fitness writer and in-house sleep journalist Rebecca Frew, arms you with all the info you need to take a glorious day sleep. 

Professional office design is an artform that architects and designers round the world have pushed to the limits of creativity. For more technical details on constructing a workspace check out The Office of Good Intentions. Human(s) Work. 

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Written by Joy Archer she/her

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