How to Design a Home Office that Inspires

The global pandemic that began in 2020 precipitated a massive shift to virtual work, and it’s quite possible that the way we work will likely never be the same. Major organizations like Google and Uber are signaling a fundamental shift, announcing long-term plans to enable remote collaboration. When it comes to home office design, creating an organized, inspiring, and motivating space has never been more important. Regardless of whether your home office is a dedicated room or a corner of a city dwelling, all great work-from-home spaces share common traits. Here, we’ll explore the key elements to include in an energizing, efficient workspace, and how you can achieve a functional home office in spaces big or small.

Home Office Design Ideas

Home office design ideas
Personalized objects in home office design

Home office design begins with both aesthetic and practical considerations. When you select the appropriate furnishings and accessories for your work-from-home arrangement, you can improve productivity by creating a space that’s easy to move through and brings joy and peace of mind.

Essential Elements

A great workspace begins with selecting the items you need to get your job done. Naturally, your line of work and style of working will influence your needs. For example, a computer programmer might need a desk that can accommodate multiple monitors, while an interior designer might need a source of natural light to best compare paint and fabric samples. 

What constitutes necessity also depends on your working style. Those who are visual learners might experience great benefit from having a large whiteboard where they can draw and brainstorm. Others might find that beautiful artwork in a calming palette brings focus. Only you know what you need to be most productive throughout the day. Source the tools that are most critical with a starring role in your physical space. There are, however, a few critical components that serve any space well. 

Natural Light

Natural light in home office

Natural light makes a considerable difference in home office designs. If your home office is located in a dedicated room, consider positioning your main work area near the window. Not only does natural light improve mood and focus, but it also helps you appear refreshed and professional on video calls.

If you’re designing a small home office space within a larger room, natural light may not be readily available. Consider multiple lighting sources so that you may easily control the brightness of your space throughout the workday.

Adequate Storage

Ample storage in home office design

Clutter doesn’t only look unappealing, it can have an adverse effect on our mental health. Creating a clutter-free space reduces anxiety and empowers you to focus on important tasks.

Finding the appropriate office storage solution for your papers, supplies, and tools is critical. From sleek drawers and cabinets that hide loose items entirely to options that allow you to turn your work supplies into a design element, selecting the appropriate approach to storage and remaining diligent about stowing away items when not in use will improve your mood and efficiency. One of our favorite storage solutions is using natural woven baskets of all sizes to contain loose items. (For more organization tips, see our post here).

Personal Objects

Home office design featuring vibrant green wall color
Home office from Acampora Interiors’ Collected Concord Farmhouse project. Photo by Read McKendree.
Home office from Acampora Interiors’ Wellesley New Traditional project. Photo by Joyelle West.

Research published in Harvard Business Review shows that creating a space that feels personalized can increase productivity and connection to your team and work.

That’s why you should aim to include personal artifacts in your workspace. These may be photos of your family, a chair with throw pillows purchased on a favorite vacation, or a corkboard featuring your goals and vision for the upcoming year. Whatever brings you happiness and makes you feel centered deserves a home in your space.

Incorporating plants into your home office design is another personalized element that has positive psychological effects. Even for those lacking a green thumb, there are numerous low-maintenance plants that can liven up your workspace like succulents and fiddle leaf fig trees. 

Serene Color Palette

The final must-have element is a calming color palette. Work can be stressful; the right set of room colors has the power to help you maintain serenity. A calming palette does not always mean pastels or neutrals. Saturated tones like mauve and sage gray can also bring zen into a room. What matters most is that you choose a color that resonates with you and aligns with other spaces in your home.

Home Office Design: Layout

Once you’ve identified the essential elements in your home office design, it’s time to unite them in the room. There are a variety of home office layouts to consider. What works best for you will be dictated by the realities of your space and your needs.

The Floating Layout

A desk floated in the middle of a room's layout

While your first instinct may be to anchor your desk on a wall, a floating desk is an alternative option. Floating furniture can make smaller rooms feel larger, offering a good solution for those who have converted a section of a room, a walk-in closet, or a small spare bedroom into a home office space in a post-pandemic era.

A floating desk also affords the opportunity to set a strong focal point for the room. If you have a beautiful antique fireplace on one wall, for example, or a picture window opposite your door that you’d like to gaze out as you work, a floating desk is a way to take advantage of the view.

The L-Shaped Desk

home office design layout ideas
Installation photo of a home office from Acampora Interiors’ Wellesley New Traditional project. Photo by Joyelle West.
Installation photo of a home office from Acampora Interiors’ Nantucket Seaside Home project.

 Those who prefer to place their desk against a wall may find that an l-shaped desk is an effective option. L-shaped desks use wall space more efficiently, putting the often-underutilized corner of the room to work. An L-shaped desk also provides additional working surface area, allowing you to spread out and create separate spaces for your computer work and any tasks that need to be done long-form or by hand.

The Built-In Desk

Built-in desk in home office design
Built-in desk from Acampora Interiors’ Wellesley New Traditional project. Photo by Joyelle West.
Built-in desk
Built-in desk from Acampora Interiors’ Wellesley New Traditional project. Photo by Joyelle West.

A built-in workspace, whether a large desk with cabinets or a foldaway desk in a tiny nook, can create greater cohesion and organization in a home office design. For those with a dedicated home office space, built-ins allow you to customize your desk and storage design in a way that makes the most sense for your individual needs.

Built-in desks also help with small home office design in creating an efficient, unobtrusive workspace tucked into a larger room. It is often difficult to purchase furniture that fits the unique measurements of nooks and crannies in one’s home. Building your own furniture that’s perfectly customized to your space will help you get the most of your small home office design.

Small Home Office Ideas

Small home office ideas
Small home office ideas
Home office from Acampora Interiors’ Watch Hill Coastal Retreat project. Photo: Acampora Interiors.

While those who have a dedicated room in their home have more options when it comes to layout and design, city dwellers and those without a separate room for their home office need to be more creative. This starts with reclaiming unused space. Establishing a workspace in an entryway, transitional space, or sparsely-populated closet helps you maximize your square footage.

Next, consider selecting furniture that can easily fold away or hide. From desks that disappear into walls or can be stowed in closets at the end of the day, to chairs that are ergonomically sound, hideable options abound.

If stowing furniture is not possible, instead opt for multi-purpose pieces. For example, select an ottoman for your living room that has a filing cabinet inside, or convert the top drawers of your bureau into storage space for office supplies. Finding multiple uses for each piece of furniture expands the limits of your small home office design.

Working from home is likely to be a part of work culture for the foreseeable future. Now is the ideal time to design a home office that makes you feel comfortable, increases productivity, and brings both efficiency and elegance to your workday. Whether your home office is a foldaway desk in your bedroom or a 500-square-foot room, there are myriad options to create a design that is both functional and beautiful.