The ABCs of Designing a Home Office

These days, home offices come in all shapes and sizes. You have the traditional, stately layouts that take up an entire room with built-ins and then you have the makeshift designs that are compressed into a tiny hall closet. Regardless of how big or small your workspace, designing an office entails a thoughtful approach.

Carving out a comfortable spot goes beyond splurging on an ergonomic chair — though that always helps — and lighting can have a significant impact on productivity, too. Beyond that, decor and storage solutions need to be considered as well — because a cluttered workspace won't do you any favors.

To break it down, we've compiled this handy cheat sheet that runs through all of the major components that you'll need to address in order to design a productive and stylish home office. Take a look.

Home Office Ideas: Layout

Survey the area in which you'll be building out your home office to determine the layout that will work best for your needs. Generally, a pairing as simple as a desk, a chair, and at least one storage solution (filing cabinet, bookcase, or wall shelf) are all you really need to carve out a proper post. But be mindful of where the electrical outlets are in the room as well — charging your laptop shouldn't be a hassle.

Positioning a desk directly under a window can seem great in theory, however, attempting to concentrate with the sun in your face isn't very comfortable. Instead, find a sweet spot in the middle or alongside an adjacent wall where a steady flow of natural light can filter in throughout the day. An arrangement in the center of the room will evoke a grand and stately feel while a setup against the wall is better when being conservative with square footage.

If you're squeezing a home office into a living room, ensure that your desk isn't in the way to prevent it from further cluttering up the space. In a small bedroom, trade your nightstand for a bedside desk that can serve dual purposes. If your home office will be used by more than one person, skip out on a traditional desk in favor of an oversize table that can accommodate more people.

Home Office Ideas: Style

Whether your style is minimalist, maximalist, or somewhere in between, translating that into the design of a home office is essential to maintaining a cohesive flow throughout the home. Just because it's designated as a "workspace" doesn't mean it can't benefit from a little flair.

If you work best in a state of solitude, consider a minimalist all-white scheme that promotes a serene and calming environment. If you're rarely fazed by distractions, embrace home office ideas that boast an array of fun colors, layered rugs, and wall hangings for visual stimulation. Go boho and fuel your creative spirit with an assortment of lively greens and vividly patterned textiles, or kick it old-school with wall-to-wall bookcases to emulate a traditional study.

Home Office Ideas: Color Palette

Color psychology plays an influential role in determining the best hues for a home office. Generally speaking, anything too vibrant or bright — think red, hot pink, and even yellow — can be distracting and overly stimulating. Instead, when picking out paint or wallpaper, opt for subdued tones or cool neutrals to establish a soothing ambiance. Light blues, crisp grays, and even a series of off-whites are just a few options that you can't go wrong with. If you're looking to make a bold statement with darker walls, offset the intensity of those hues with lighter furniture or white trim and moldings, which will establish a high-contrast finish.

If you can't settle on a palette, allow the size of the room to inform your color choices. In a tiny, cramped space, going lighter is always best, whereas a home office with plenty of natural light can afford a dark accent wall or two.

Home Office Ideas: Smart Storage

We'll be the first to admit that traditional office storage solutions aren't always the most attractive. The fix? Rethinking the basics with an aesthetically pleasing spin. Instead of a bulky file cabinet, invest in shelving, a slim bookcase, or source a vintage cabinet that comes with a combination of drawers and doors. If you're seeking the real deal, Poppin's sleek and streamlined version puts a fun twist on the original.

Install floating shelves above your desk for a functional element that can double as decor, making ample use of blank walls while leaving the floor space free. Alternatively, a desk with built-in shelves is always a great idea and checks off all the boxes when it comes to creating a home office. Lastly, don't be afraid to employ a slew of non-traditional storage solutions, such as baskets or a host of wall hooks, to keep things fresh.

Home Office Ideas: Efficient Lighting

A well-lit workspace is not only crucial but integral in creating an efficient and productive environment. Spending eight plus hours under bright, fluorescent lighting isn't going to help you or your eyesight so invest in a few different sources of lighting to ensure that you have all your bases covered. A pendant or floor lamp is ideal for illuminating the entire room, and a great way to sneak in a little extra flair. If your home office already comes with recessed lighting, supplement those existing fixtures with a task light or a modest table lamp, perfect for late nights when a dim source will suffice.

Home Office Ideas: Furniture and Decor

There's a big difference between a work desk and a writing desk. And if you're going to be tied down to one for an extended period of time, you'll want to go with the former. When picking out a desk and chair, measure the distance from the floor to the tabletop, to guarantee that you can move freely when sitting — factor in enough space to cross your legs as well. If you tire easily from being in the same position all day, invest in a standing desk that can be converted into a regular one. They may run on the pricier side but they give you a lot more flexibility.

On the decor front, treat the space as you would any other room. Wall art is always a welcome touch and you can never go wrong with a few potted plants to liven things up. Design-forward office supplies and accessories can be the difference between a snoozy desktop and an inspiring one — Hay, Yamazaki, and Anthropologie never fail to deliver on that front.

Home Office Ideas: Small Spaces

Image Credit: Hunker in Partnership With Acme Real Estate

Small home offices come in all shapes and sizes, whether it's a desk propped in an empty nook under the stairs or tucked into an extra closet. If you're unable to dedicate an entire room to a workspace, seek out unused corners or walls that can pull double-duty. Stick with a minimalist decor scheme to limit clutter and keep the area as light and bright as possible for an open and airy feel. If your home office co-exists within another room, place an area rug underneath to visually divide the space.

Ensuring that you have all the essentials for a productive workspace means maximizing the square footage you do have with thoughtful storage solutions. Make ample use of the walls, especially when short on space. Install a pegboard or a series of floating shelves above the desk to hold everyday basics and supplies. If there is room on your desk, invest in a tabletop file sorter and mini organizers. A desk with built-in storage is a space-saving alternative to an individual desk and cabinet combo.

Best Places to Shop for Home Offices

Image Credit: Stephen Paul for Hunker

Target

IKEA

Amazon

Wayfair

World Market

Lulu and Georgia

Container Store

Mustard

Anthropologie