12 spare room office ideas that nail the work-from-home brief 

Struggling to combine corporate with cosy? We show you how to balance desks with duvets for a hard-working interiors scheme.

Working from your spare room can be both rewarding and frustrating. Although you’re avoiding the commute, it can be a challenge to create a space that successfully combines your work with weekend guests. 

But, with a few clever touches, we believe your spare-room office can be both. Pick the right furniture, decor and layout, and you’ll create a space where guests will be comfortable and you can achieve your work goals. 

bedroom with teal bed cover and curtains and slimline wooden desk located in between two large windowsCredit: Industville/Emma Clanfield Interiors
Combining work with pleasure can be tricky. We show you how.

1. Use a curtain divider

Separate sleep from study with a pretty fabric panel

However nice your working environment is, sometimes it’s better out of sight. And when you’re trying to combine work with pleasure, the result feels jumbled if you don’t get it right. 

Fred Horlock, design director at furniture and home decor company Neptune,agrees: In a smaller home, some spaces must serve a dual purpose, like a home office within a bedroom. However, rooms like these have a tendency to turn into a visually incoherent space.

This can be avoided by using softer or decorative pieces such as curtains and room dividers. These allow for a feeling of separation while maintaining the functionality and design aesthetic of the space.” 

Although you may choose to leave the curtain open when no one is visiting (unless of course you don’t have the willpower to avoid a quick nap in this beautiful bed), it easily can be closed when visitors arrive.

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Larsson Bedroom Chair

RRP: £550

Larsson Bedroom Chair
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Interior styling tip

Reposition occasional office chairs to face the bed when its used as a guest room, so that the space is clearly in bedroom mode. 

2. Change your outlook

You really could be working from anywhere with a wallpaper mural

Who says dreaming is only for bedtime? When you’re having a dreary day, there’s nothing like a change of location to boost your mood. But if you’re tied to your desk, why not change your perspective with a wallpaper mural? 

We love this one from Rebel Walls, which features Chatsworth Park at night. Dark and mysterious, it’s also in line with this year’s green interiors trend. We particularly love how the positioning of the bed makes the pavilion building resemble a faux headboard.

Keep the finished look classically simple with light, wooden furniture, neutrally toned bedlinen and a simple black desk light that can easily become a bedside lamp for guests. 

Featured product

Chatsworth Park, Night

RRP: £47.04/sqm

Chatsworth Park, Night

3. Don’t dismiss redundant walls

Position a slimline desk in the empty space between windows

Easily distracted? Locate your desk in the dead space between two windows to help you remain focused during the work day. Choose a slimline desk with hairpin legs so the room doesn’t feel cluttered. To avoid blocking traffic, add a simple cube seat or stool that can be tucked away when not in use. 

Positioning a mirror above the desk also creates a handy dressing table space for visitors. Although colour choice is a personal preference, we love how this duck egg blue is sharply contrasted with reds, coppers and conker-toned wood. It’s a great blue bedroom idea. 

Make sure you’ve also got a comfy occasional chair that feels anything but corporate. 

4. Add a bespoke corner workstation

Use an L-shaped desk and wardrobe combo

There’s no doubting the brilliance of a bespoke solution for rooms that need to be multipurpose. Bespoke storage designers are considered experts in their field, coming up with a host of handy tricks and solutions to get the best out of your space. 

“Often we miss opportunities to integrate an office into unused or underutilised spaces,” says Rachael Hutcheson, national retail manager at Sharps Bedrooms. 

“Key spaces to look at are the corners of a room. Perfect for housing a desk and shelving, they can offer a discreet area to work in.” 

Her words ring true when we see how the addition of an L-shaped desk in this room does just that. And, in addition to ensuring the view from the bed is directed at the artworks and plants, it creates another opportunity for a subtle bedroom lighting effect.

Storage tips for your spare-room home office

The key to making your home-office environment the most efficient it can be is ensuring you can easily find everything you need,” says Craig Sammells, country manager UK & Ireland for Finnish household products manufacturer Orthex Group. A good storage system just helps keep everything neat and tidy. It also means it is not such a mammoth task if you need to reclaim that room for its original purpose.” 

Simon Glanville, managing director at home storage company A Place for Everything agrees, citing monitor stands and desk caddies as essential items, along with cable-tidy storage boxes to keep ugly wires out of sight.

Sammells’ top five tips for getting the most out of your spare-room office storage:

This is probably the key to successful storage. Choose storage boxes that you can write on with dry eraser markers, or use write on/wipe off labels. 

Don’t get carried away and create your own Leaning Tower of Pisa, but do have boxes that you can stack, say, three or four high to maximise floorspace. Stackable boxes can fit well under desks or on shelves too; and choose modular types that mean you can fit several smaller boxes on the lid of a larger one. 

Optimise the space inside your storage boxes by buying inserts to split them up. A set of six means you can store all sorts of stationery items, including fiddly paperclips or chargers in their own section.  

Save time by using transparent storage so at a glance you know what is where. Again, go modular to maximise what you can store. If you prefer to hide items from view, use colour-coded labels insteadblue for stationery, red for accounts etc. 

If you are going to be moving your home office storage out of the way quite frequently, then durability is key. To keep them secure from tiny hands and pets, or just to prevent the contents spilling out if they’re knocked over, opt for storage with clip-close lids.  

Featured product

Fibreboard CD & DVD Storage Drawers

RRP: £24

Fibreboard CD & DVD Storage Drawers

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SmartStore by Orthex Classic 14 Plastic Storage Box (8L)

RRP: £9.50

SmartStore by Orthex Classic 14 Plastic Storage Box (8L)
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5. Use your sofa bed as a divider

Create a back-to-back layout

Sofa beds or trundle beds are also a great way to save room whilst ensuring guests can stay when needed,” says Kirsty Roper-Hall, beds and bedroom furniture buyer at John Lewis. So if your spare-room home office is used less frequently as a bedroom, heed her advice and call upon the services of a sofa bed.

When it comes to layout, follow the simple rules of this scheme: 

  1. Pick a sofa bed with a back that’s higher than your desk.
  2. Face your sofa bed towards the window and your desk behind so that they both benefit from natural light. 
  3. Use wall space for storage units and hanging rails. 
  4. Add a floor or tall desk light that can be angled over the desk or the bed. 
  5. Use the lower wall space under windows to house your books and work files. 

Featured product

Holmsund Three-seat sofa-bed, Nordvalla beige

RRP: £650

Holmsund Three-seat sofa-bed, Nordvalla beige

Interior design tip:

If youre creating a scheme like this in a loft conversion or room makeover, dont forget to think about the placement of sockets. Investigate the option of using floor sockets so you dont have to worry about cables trailing over the floor. Or consider using rechargeable lights if you cant plug the light in safely. 

6. Use a dressing table instead of a desk

Choose the right design to make it fashionable and functional

“It’s really important when designing a bedroom office that you don’t overcrowd the area – and instead make it comfortable and calming to help you focus, as well as switch off at the end of the day,” says Roper-Hall. 

“With plenty of storage, a dressing table is a great alternative to a desk,” she suggests, allowing you to hide away your work equipment whilst saving valuable space. A neutral colour, like white, can help to blend it into the background and avoid it being the focal point.

To make the room feel more relaxed and less ‘office-like’, you might also want to opt for a chair without wheels,” Roper-Hall continues. “Dressing tables will rarely provide enough space for a traditional desk chair, so if you don’t feel comfortable on a stool, you could also consider a chair without arms.” 

Pair with pretty mint green and pick smaller decorative items for styling your bedside table. Why small? They can be easily tucked away in the spacious drawers when you don’t have guests, leaving you with more than enough space for your work essentials.

Featured product

Anyday Wilton Dressing Table, White

RRP: £349

Anyday Wilton Dressing Table, White

7. Hang mirrors

Increase the sense of space with mirrors and mirrored furniture

Mirrors are a great way of increasing the sense of space in your spare-room office. As well as ensuring your guests can check they look presentable, they will reflect plenty of natural light to prevent you squinting over your laptop.

To further enhance the look, use mirrored-effect ceiling lights and large mirrored decorative accessories. Mirrors are a surefire way to turn up the dial on a dark office day and are an uplifting addition to a dark-coloured interior scheme.

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Sleek Large Edison Cluster Lights - 3 Wire - Pewter

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Sleek Large Edison Cluster Lights - 3 Wire - Pewter

8. Use plants to soften the divide

Boost your air quality with a natural barrier between work and play

We’ve loved this year’s biophilic trend, which has encouraged us to embrace more greenery in our homes. If you work from home, getting a blast of the outdoors can be more difficult, especially during winter, when the days are shorter. 

Thankfully, there’s a multitude of plants to choose from when it comes to creating your own indoor jungle. If you need safe houseplants for pets, or plants that suit a sunny spot, read our features on the best kitchen plants and best conservatory plants. We cover both shady and sunny spots, so we’re confident you’ll find something that suits your spare-room home office.

9. Add an elegant bureau

Create a dark and cosy atmosphere with rich reds and wood

Bureaus are a furniture choice we often refer to when discussing home offices. Why? Because their compact but highly functional nature make them more than fit for purpose.

Need storage? Tick. Need a work surface? Tick. Want to emulate the feeling of leaving work each day? Tick – simply close the lid. Need to have plenty of space for a bed and additional chairs? Tick. 

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the history of the bureau’s design dates back to 17th-century France (the word bureau in French means office), which means if you prefer a more classically designed interior, there’s a wealth of choice available. Combine a glossy dark finish with reds, greens and golds and you’ll have a scheme fit for a king. 

Featured product

Calluna Coral

RRP: From £26 per metre

Calluna Coral

10. Use navy for a neat and crisp finish

Combine with white and rattan for a soft but professional feel

Prefer a more corporate look but still need to make your guests feel welcome? Nothing beats navy for a clean, crisp and polished interior. Pair with light-coloured walls, add some texture with rattan accessories and if you’ve got budget to spare, commission a bespoke home-office unit and wardrobe to match. 

Combine recessed shelving with cupboards and drawers and ensure you have sufficient layers of lighting to provide you with enough brightness to work, and to give guests the chance to tone it down at bedtime.

We like how this scheme uses spotlights in both the ceiling and the recessed desk area. 

Lighting tip:

If youre installing new spotlights, our top tip is to always ask your electrician to use dimmable lights and switches. While you may need them on full strength during the working day, they can be too harsh when the room is used at night. 

11. Use a wall-hanging desk

Free up floor space and utilise an alcove

Want to extend the visual boundaries of your spare-room home office? Dismiss a more traditional desk in favour of a wall-mounted option. A smaller version makes a great space-saving bedside table idea, and a wall-mounted desk works in the same way. 

Neat, compact and still providing ample work surface – and in this case, handy storage drawers – locating the unit in an alcove gives you the ultimate out-of-sight work solution.

Continue the clean-lined approach with some floating shelves and mount your desk light to the wall for maximum work-surface area. Pick pastels and neutrals as your accent shades and add an inspirational quote in a frame to keep you motivated when things get tough. 

Featured product

Exby Alex, Shelf with Drawers, White

RRP: £45

Exby Alex, Shelf with Drawers, White

12. Disguise your desk

This unit is probably the slimmest workstation we’ve ever seen

At first glance, we thought this piece of furniture was a flip-down storage unit for shoes, until we took a closer look and realised it’s one of the most slimline workstations we’ve come across.

Let us list the ways in which we love thee… I mean, the ways in which this unit demonstrates it’s perfectly formed for even the smallest of spare-room home offices. 

  1. It’s slim enough to fit in the neglected space behind a door. 
  2. It requires only one plug socket as it has a cable that takes power to a recessed multi-socket and light unit inside the workstation. 
  3. It has shelves hidden at the sides for storing files and stationery. 
  4. It includes mini shelves and a slatted back panel for additional storage. 

It’s without doubt utilitarian and simple in style, but there’s absolutely no question as to whether it’s up to the job.

If you’re simply looking for somewhere to hide away and catch up on emails, tackle some puzzles or indulge in an hour of crosswords, then look no further. This is your solution. 

Featured product

Slimline Desk - Flatmate - White

RRP: £1348

Slimline Desk - Flatmate - White
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Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her

Published:

Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

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