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6 Design Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up an At-Home Workspace

A living room with an office nook that has a wood feature on the wall and open storage.

home.and.spirit / Instagram

Though many of us dream of crafting at-home workspaces fit for Instagram, anyone who’s spent any time working from home knows pretty isn’t everything. We’ve all made the mistake of curating a space so lovely-looking, we can’t wait to spend all day there. But, when we go to actually spend all day there, we find the furniture uncomfortable, the décor distracting, or the environment generally out of balance.

Thankfully, home offices are about as easy to improve as they are to derail. Minor tweaks—like removing a curtain to let more light in, or trading a too-harsh seat for something more enduringly comfortable—can have a major impact. With just a few quick swaps, an at-home workspace can be entirely transformed. And an office that once encouraged only distraction can quickly become a space abounding with creative energy.

If the line between energizing and distracting has become blurred, don’t worry—we're sharing the common mistakes of home office decorating—and the steps you can take to transform, renew, and reinvigorate your at-home workspace.

01 of 06

Having an At-Home Workspace That Isn’t Well-Lit

White beautifully styled desk with computer.

Calimia Home

Lighting can make or break a workspace, and your home office is no exception. We’ve all had haunting experiences with harsh artificial lighting, and we’ve likely had horrifying run-ins with dim lighting, too. The best lighting is the kind that goes unnoticed, and that tends to be—no surprise here—natural lighting. 

Try to position your at-home workspace close to a window that gets plenty of natural light. If that isn’t an option for you, invest in a few lamps you like being around. Experiment with different bulbs until you’ve crafted a set-up that’s as warm and bright as you want it to be.

02 of 06

Using an Uncomfortable Chair

A home office with a dark blue rug and several modern coastal accents

Katie Hodges Design

The perfect desk chair is comfortable enough to spend all day in, but not so cozy that it invites you to slack off. Ideally, you want something upright and structured—but not rigid or uncomfortable. The exact height, shape, and material will vary based on who you are and how you like to work. But, give yourself a little time to experiment and figure out what you want. 

And don’t sweat it if you buy a chair you don’t end up loving. Think of it this way: you’ve made it one step closer to finding a chair you will love. Plus, return policies exist for a reason.

03 of 06

Working on a Cluttered Desk

the best Amazon shopping secrets - laptops in office by Calimia Home

Photo: Calimia Home

Many of us get so excited about curating our at-home workspaces that we fill them with cute décor. We cover our desks with plants, candles, and stylish desk supplies. And while these items look undeniably great in photos, they may not function well to work around.

No matter what’s going on, consider purging the items you don’t need. Remember, your desk is your workspace. It doesn’t need to be thoroughly decorated—in fact, it can be totally empty. And sometimes, crisp, peaceful minimalism can feel even prettier and more inviting than a thoroughly decorated home office.

04 of 06

Using a Desk That Isn’t Big Enough

A living room with an office nook that has a wood feature on the wall and open storage.

home.and.spirit / Instagram

If your desk can’t hold your laptop, your notebook, and anything else you need to access with ease, it might not be big enough. If you’re dealing with space constraints, you may need to get creative on this one. Consider storing oft-needed items under your desk to maximize desk space, or favoring a low-décor set-up over a more maximalist one.

If you have the option, consider investing in a bigger desk—or transforming one of the larger surfaces in your house (think: dining room tables, kitchen bars, etc.) into your new at-home workspace.

05 of 06

Or, Using a Desk That Isn’t Comfortable to Work On

A narrow home office with a desk, art, and a bold pendant light

Proem Studio

Many of us obsess about what material our desk chairs are made out of, and we fail to hold our desks to the same standard. Invest in a desk you actually like working on. The surface should feel smooth and comfortable, and you should be able to move your things around without giving it much thought.

06 of 06

Setting Up a Workspace Too Close to Your Bedroom

A bedroom with a desk tucked into the corner

Katie Hodges Design

Reserving your bedroom for relaxation only can help you see it as a more calming environment. The issue? Many of us put our at-home workspaces in our bedrooms—or even worse, we work from our beds. 

If you’ve been doing this with no problem, keep doing your thing. But if you’ve noticed a marked decrease in your sleep quality while working from home, consider introducing more separation between your bedroom and your workspace. Remember, if there’s no room for a desk anywhere else in your house, you can always try working at your kitchen table or in your living room.