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Creating the perfect home office: Amazing home office design ideas

Working from home and dreaming of the ideal set-up? Here are our tips for how to arrange the best possible working space

6 January 2024
6 minutes read
Small home office design with a neutral palette of muted grey walls, sofa and office desk and white art prints, carpet and shelving allowing the light coming through the narrow and tall window to bounce off and illuminate the room

Maybe you’ve just started working from home. Or maybe you want some space in which to organise your life without the kids knocking everything out of the way. Whatever your goal, chances are creating the perfect home office seems a long way off right now.

Don't despair: we have some great ideas to help you set up an amazing workspace in your home, whether you are aiming for an impressive minimalist space where you will run your growing business empire, or you’re setting up a desk tucked under the stairs where you can settle in on working-from-home Fridays.  

For some of us, the fantasy is portrayed in the 2014 film Exhibition. In the movie, a couple living in a stunning minimalist house in London each have their own cool office on different floors of the building, and rely on the intercom to communicate.

Surrounded by junk?

For many of us, the current reality is sadly very different: you’re working at the kitchen table with the dog crashing around you. Or you do have a spare room, but it’s filled with all the junk that doesn’t fit anywhere else in the house but you can’t bear to throw out: exercise machines and kitchen gadgets and old clothes. 

However much space you have, you’ll want to make your home office design both comfortable and efficient. And whatever your personal style is, we’re guessing that a jumble of cables and wires all over the floor isn’t part of it. There are lots of clever ties and boxes you can use. Or you can attach the cables to a pegboard or an under-desk-mounted cable mesh.

Whatever technique you are using, make sure you have it in place before starting to do anything else in your office room – it’s much, much harder to sort out cables once all the furniture is in place.

Some starting points

You will definitely need a desk lamp. And make sure the ceiling light isn’t too harsh – if it is, either change the shade or bulb. But beyond that, there are a number of questions you should ask yourself – the answers will help you decide the best way for you to go.

For instance, a lot of experts will tell you that your first priority should be plenty of storage space. And that’s absolutely true if you are running a business from home. It’s also true if you have lots of home admin and are still getting bills sent to you by post.

But what if you work for a business where printing documents was phased out three years ago, and the tools of your trade amount to precisely one laptop? In that case, all that elegant storage space will sit empty. Or, worst still, it will become a dumping ground for unwanted things from the rest of the house. Storage is a priority if and only if you truly need lots of storage. 

Luxury minimalist interior design of a narrow office desk with a large monitor wall mounted to the integrated wall storage in muted tri-coloured tones of natural wood, black and white
Home Office designed by Urbanist Architecture

The one thing you do really need

A good chair. Obviously, you want a chair that fits in with the rest of your design choices. But unless you have a standing desk that you are going to use 100% of the time, your priority is a chair that is going to be kind to your spine. 

Imagine if you went into your employer’s headquarters and were told to sit at your desk on a wooden kitchen chair with wonky legs. You would freak out, and complain to HR about health and safety violations, and you would be quite right.

And yet even people who work from home from six or seven days a week are willing to make do with a chair unwanted in the rest of the house. Don’t do it: in the long run, your back will never forgive you. There are plenty of office chairs out there that are both stylish and comfortable – ring-fence a decent chunk of your budget to buy one. 

And if you possibly can, you should have…

Plenty of natural light. It’s good for your room, it’s good for your mood and it will give you a sense of time passing in the world outside. But, as anyone who has lived in a 1960s-built flat can tell you, there is a drawback: you can get too much light at times.

So if you are lucky enough to have lots of natural light, you need to make sure you position your desk in such a way that the sun does not cause a glare on the computer screen. And invest in good-quality blinds. 

After that, everything else in your perfect home office comes down to choice, budget and how much space you have. Which one of these questions is closest to what you have been thinking?

How do I create an efficient home office?

You're a pragmatist. You want a space that is going to allow you to get on with your work. You want your perfect home office to look good, sure, but that’s not as important as supreme functionality. So, if possible, the first thing you want to do is find a space that is as far away from the bustle of your home as possible.

A loft conversion can often be a good option – it will be quiet, full of light and set up to your specifications. But if you need to get going right away, maybe you have a spare bedroom that’s rarely used. Or possibly space on a landing on the second floor? 

Wherever it is in your home you settle on, make sure you clear it of anything not to do with your work or home admin. Be ruthless. Be utterly ruthless. You will never be able to work efficiently if you are tripping over cricket bats or piles of old magazines. 

Next, make sure you have everything you need within easy reach. If you consult lots of books, then bookshelves above your desk are a good idea. And if you use files, have them in drawers below your desk, or in a filing cabinet right next to it. Nothing should ever be randomly stuffed into that filing cabinet: make sure everything is labelled and in order. Time spent now will be much more time saved later.

Some people like to have a kettle or even a fridge in their modern home office to stop them from wandering down to the kitchen constantly. That can work, although it’s important you don’t feel like you are barricading yourself in your office. Working from home shouldn’t just be an imitation of commuting to an office every day. 

How do I make the most of a small space?

Not much room for a desk, but plenty of wall in front of it? Then think about mounting your computer monitor on the wall – that will make space for (necessary) paper and books on your desk. It will also have the added benefit that your monitor will be at eye level, so you won’t be stooping over to read it all day. (And you will look better and more professional in video conferences!)

Or another way your walls can help you make the most of limited space is to have a desk that folds down from a bookcase.

Loft conversion office with a large skylight naturally illuminating the customised and integrated wall mounted pale blue storage units, natural dark wood flooring with matching wooden desk and chairs
Home Office designed by Urbanist Architecture

How can I make my office feel inviting?

Of course, not everyone wants a totally functional space. For you, the modern home office is one that doesn’t feel sterile or formal. One option is painting your walls any colour other than white or light grey, or using wallpaper. And having paintings, prints and posters up on the walls. Think about decoration that will inspire you while you work. 

As the very word ‘inviting’ suggests you be welcoming others into your office, what you will need is somewhere for them to sit. Quite a few home offices have sofa beds in them because they double as guest bedrooms, but if that feels a bit too informal for you, how about a couple of comfortable-yet-elegant chairs and a coffee table? 

How can I make my home office look more professional?

If you have your own business, there might be times when you need to have clients, collaborators or even investors visit your office at home. For the rest of us, with companies increasingly using video conferencing, your colleagues – and your boss – are likely to see what your office room looks like.

And in some lines of work, having a basketball hoop or a dartboard on the door, for instance, is taken as a sign you are treating the chance to work from home as an opportunity to do no work at home. However unfair that might be, you might want to make sure that your office, or at least the parts of that others are going to see, look grown-up and focused. 

Ways to indicate to other people that you are serious about what you are doing include a desk calendar – preferably not one full of cats doing cute things, a desk lamp and a couple of shelves full of work-related books and journals. Depending on the kind of work you do, having two computer monitors can make it look like you have a lot to keep an eye on. Plus, for many professions, having two monitors actually does help you do your job better, so you’ll be faking it and making it at once.

Keeps things tidy – so this is where smart storage options do pay off. The only folders and papers on your desk surface should be the ones you are using right now, so if you haven’t gone paperless, make sure you have somewhere to keep your documents where you can easily retrieve them.

Wooden interior design for office space with asymmetric wall mounted bookshelf with attached desk, matching wood and leather desk chair and wooden window blinds
Home Office designed by Urbanist Architecture

How can I make my home office more comfortable?

For you, your perfect home office isn’t there to impress others, or turn you into a super-worker, it’s meant to please you. Your room won’t be all hard surfaces. Put in a sofa or a couple of armchairs, and have cushions on them. 

Don’t be afraid of strong colours, either for the walls or the furniture, or even both. If you like books, then floor-to-ceiling bookcases are a great way of creating a room that looks lived-in in the right way. And even if you are trying to stay out of the way of your family during office hours, it does no harm to have some photos of them around you.

Where’s the best place for my desk?

Here’s a thing: if there is someone at the company you work for lucky enough to have an office all to themselves in the firm’s building, do they have their desk facing a wall? Probably not. And yet that seems to be the default option when it comes to offices in the home. There is a reason for doing that, of course – it’s an efficient use of often limited space. But that doesn’t mean you should rule out a desk facing into the room, especially if you have colleagues or clients visit you regularly. 

Apart from space, one reason people go for desks facing a wall is to avoid distraction. But if inspiration or keeping in a good mood is more important to you, you might want to have your desk looking out a window instead. 

And while we are talking about desks, it’s worth saying that (unlike with office chairs) what you use as a desk doesn’t have to have been designed as one. If you have lots of room, and need lots of room for your work, then a dining table or trestle table can work really well. And, of course, that’s ideal if you are having meetings in your office. 

As we are often told all the time we spend sitting down is bad for our health, you might want to consider a standing desk in your perfect home office. But think seriously about whether you are really going to use it – because otherwise it can end up joining your unused cross-trainer and bread maker.

Modern classic office design with various shades and types of wood for the  desk, asymmetrical bookshelf and herringbone flooring with matching muted browns in the fabric armchair and leather desk chair
Home Office designed by Urbanist Architecture

Thinking about the dream home office

Imagine that space and budget are no object. The choice is yours, but we’re thinking about a room filled with natural light. Facing the window or into the room is a wide but minimal midcentury modern desk. There are built-in bookshelves on the walls. 

Also on the walls, you’ve got large paintings or prints, because this shouldn’t be a cold and unfriendly place. All wires have been cunningly hidden away, and there’s just enough storage in low built-in cupboards on one side of the room. You’ve got a sofa and some chic coffee tables for when you want a break or colleagues pop by.  

Doesn’t that sound like a great place to work? Sitting in your perfect home office, you certainly wouldn’t be missing your commute…

How Urbanist Architecture can help you

Urbanist Architecture is a London-based RIBA chartered architecture and planning practice with offices in Greenwich and Belgravia, with a dedicated focus in proven design and planning strategies, and expertise in residential extensions, conversions and interior design.

If you would like us to help you with your loft conversion, extension or remodelling the inside of your home, creating the space and design for your perfect home office, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Sky Moore-Clube, Architectural Designer at Urbanist Architecture
AUTHOR

Sky Moore-Clube

A key member of our architectural team, Sky has a passion for heritage homes and interior design, as well as a great instinct for ultra-creative extensions. Sky brings a fresh yet thorough approach to everything she designs.

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