10 Ways to Design a Chic But Functional Home Office

Updated 11/04/19

Jessica Arends/Unsplash

According to a Gallup Poll, full-time American workers put in an average of at least 47 hours per week. Considering most of us only sleep about seven to eight hours a night, this means we are spending as much time at our desks as we are in the comfort of our beds. If you happen to be fortunate enough to work from home, creating a proper work space is important—not only to maximize productivity but also to help mentally separate your work life from your home life. That being said, your home office environment doesn’t have to be sterile. In fact, you should consider putting as much thought into its design and décor as any other room in your home. 

“A home office should feel inspiring and incorporate the overall look of the home's interior, from the color palette to the décor,” explains Danny Seo, eco lifestyle expert and editor-in-chief of Naturally, Danny Seo magazine, who helped his friend Kerry Washington makeover her own office, transforming it into a chic, functional, and sustainable work space. 

These 10 expert-approved ideas will help you create a chic but functional home office.

1. Find Stylish Storage

Every office needs storage spaces, but don’t feel limited to metal, industrial looking file cabinets. “A Must is a good looking storage component that hides the day to day components of a work space,” Nancy Hooff & Carter Kay of Carter Kay Interiors tell MyDomaine. “No need for everyone to know your secrets.”

Instead of shopping in the office section, try looking for creative ways to repurpose other types of pieces. Think credenzas, dressers, side boards, or buffets. It will give your working space a warmer and homier feel. 

2. Consider a Show-Stopping Chandelier 

Nothing screams "stale office" more than boring, recessed neon lights. Pretty much every Instagrammable office features a fabulous light fixture that you would never in a million years find at Office Depot. “Make sure it actually puts out good light too!” suggest Hoof and Kay. 

chandelier
TOB by Thomas O'Brien by Generation Lighting Beckham 24-Light Sputnik Chandelier $979
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3. Turn Walls Into Work Spaces 

No matter the size, you can maximize the efficiency of your office space by utilizing every surface, suggests Seo. ”Turn walls into work spaces ideal for to-do lists, brainstorming, inspirational words/art, etc by using marker boards and/or chalkboards,” he adds. 

4. Add a Personal Touch

When we hear the term “office” most of us think of grey, sterile spaces constructed out of cheap material. Who wants to spend the majority of their day in a space like that? Adding some life into your office space is incredibly simple. For example, Seo suggests adding a few low maintenance plants as they add a fresh, uplifting feel to spaces. Also, incorporate some personal decor pieces - photos, mementos, etc - to tie the office into your home. Artwork, candles, and even cozy blankets will make it feel even more cozy. 

large fiddle leaf fig
The Sill Large Fiddle Leaf Fig Bush $165
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5. Shop the Dining Section

Looking for a desk that you saw in one of those chic office pictures on Pinterest or Instagram? You probably aren’t going to find it in any office store. Instead of searching for an actual desk, think about shopping the dining room department. These days so many people are using a dining room table as a desk, not only because it looks way less officey, but because of the added space it will give you. 

dining table
Zinus Jen Mid-Century Modern Wood Dining Table $140
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New York City-based interior designer, Larisa Barton, founder of Souer Interiors also suggests replacing your traditional office chair with a dining or arm chair. “This creates a comfortable and rich feel,” she explains. 

cheetah chair
The Inside Slipper Chair $449
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6. Try a Floating Shelf Desk 

A clever way to create a chic work space on a budget is by using a floating shelf as a desk. “This way you can customize the size, finish and placement,” Barton says. This can come in especially handy if you are creating an office in a small space or as part of another room. 

floating shelf desk
Wayfair Hideaway Wall Desk and Display Shelf $250
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7. Consider Ergonomics

Of course you want your office to look good, but you also need it to keep you feeling good as well. “Finding a task chair with adjustability is one of the most important elements in your office,” points out New York City- and Philadelphia-based interior designer Sabrina Piazza, founder of Living Quarters. “Proper support, height and angles for typing and screen viewing have a long term impact on our well being.” Unpleasantries like chronic aching, Carpel tunnel, and back and neck pain can be avoided altogether if you invest in the right work chair. “Find a manufacturer like Herman Miller, Humanscale, or Knoll, and if you can’t afford to pay full price, search eBay, Amazon, or even outlet sources who are happy to send photos of stock and ship items,” she suggests.

office chair
Room & Board Freedom Office Chair $1069
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8. Shy Away From Boring Office Gadgets

A really easy way to make your office ugly is by filling it with huge, clunky, and unpleasant-looking office gear. Luckily, technology has advanced so much in the past few years, you should be able to find multi-functional, efficient, high-tech office gadgets that aren’t an eye sore. Take this mint green Canon Pixma ts5320 wireless all-in-one printer. It prints, copies, and even prints photos, and is small enough to fit on a bookshelf or small table. 

mint green printer
Canon Wireless All-In-One Printer, Mint Green $60
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9. Don’t Forget Your Floors

Stylish home offices never have naked floors. Try and stick to flat weave natural or kilim flooring materials, suggests Piazza. “It will give you a chic look that’s easy to clean and maneuver on top of in a rolling chair.” For an extra dose of visual interest, you can layer it with a hide or another small rug with a pop of color. 

rug
Rejuvenation Adair Hand-Knotted Rug, Rust $244+
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10. Keep Your Cords Managed

Another unsightly office space faux pas comes in the form of lots of exposed cords and wires. “Nothing diminishes the appearance more than not-so-thoughtfully planned electronic location,” explains Piazza. An easy fix for this is purchasing cord covers and sleeves. Another great solution is grommet holes in the back corners of desks or cabinets for computer, printer, device cords that allow cords to easily be hidden and directed to outlets below.

cord hider
JOTO Cable Management Sleeve, Pack of 4 $30
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