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15 Ways to Design a Chic but Functional Home Office

chic home office

Design: Emily Henderson / Photo: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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 workspace 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 workspace

These 15 expert-approved ideas will help you create a chic but functional home office.

01 of 15

Find Stylish Storage

small home office in bedroom corner

JC Designs

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 workspace," says Nancy Hooff and Carter Kay of Carter Kay Interiors. "No need for everyone to know your secrets."

However, decor-wise, your storage options are meant to be seen—floating shelves and pegboards can be customizable for whatever you're trying to display.

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. 

02 of 15

Consider a Show-Stopping Chandelier

chic home office with statement light fixture

Whittney Parkinson

Nothing screams "stale office" more than bland, recessed neon lights. Pretty much every chic 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. 

03 of 15

Turn Walls Into Work Spaces

home office with cork board accent wall

Kate Marker Interiors

No matter the size, you can maximize the efficiency of your office space by utilizing every surface, suggests Seo. "Turn walls into workspaces ideal for to-do lists, brainstorming, inspirational words/art, etc., by using marker boards and/or chalkboards," he adds. The accent wall in this office designed by Kate Marker Interiors opted for corkboard, which is also a suitable option.

04 of 15

Add a Personal Touch

home office with decor

House 9 Interiors

When we hear the term "office," most of us think of gray, sterile spaces constructed out of cheap material. Who wants to spend most 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 blankets will make it feel even cozier.

05 of 15

Shop the Dining Section

attic loft home office with dining table as desk

Design: Emily Henderson/ Photo: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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 in 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. 

New York City-based interior designer Larisa Barton, founder of Souer Interiors, also suggests replacing your traditional office chair with a dining or armchair. "This creates a comfortable and rich feel," she explains. 

06 of 15

Give Yourself Room

home office with double desk and large wall calendar and floating shelves

Cathie Hong

You may not have a large room to work with, but if you have the space—use it. Giving yourself a large surface area to work with can be more beneficial than you realize. If you're someone who works on multiple tasks, more room can allow for easier transitions while still looking sophisticated.

07 of 15

Consider Ergonomics

home office with leather chair and mounted industrial bookshelf

Ashley Montgomery Design

Of course, you want your office to look good, but you also need it to keep you feeling good. "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, carpal 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.

08 of 15

Add Some Color

colorful home office/library

Mary Patton Design

Your office doesn't have to stay neutral in order to be chic. Adding color can help liven up the atmosphere and even energize you to get your work done. Not big on going all out with color? You can opt to introduce it in smaller ways, such as colorful technology. 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. 

09 of 15

Don't Forget Your Floors

home office with dark blue walls, gallery wall, and pattern rug

Design: Emily Henderson / Photo: Zeke Ruelas

Stylish home offices never have bare floors. Try sticking 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." You can layer it with a hide or another small rug with a pop of color for an extra dose of visual interest. 

10 of 15

Go Wireless

home office with wood midcentury modern furniture and wireless tech

Kate Marker Interiors

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. Wireless options tend to be the go-to, whether through laptops or larger computer screens. Many companies also create wireless keyboards and mouse controllers, so there are no wires to worry about.

If you have a computer setup that isn't wireless and you're not looking to update any time soon, 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.

11 of 15

Consider an All-White Color Scheme

all white home office

Calimia Home

While you aren't required to stay neutral when decorating your office space, there is something so chic about a primarily white color scheme. Especially in a smaller space, white walls can make the room feel larger. When working in your home office, you don't want to feel cramped and confined, so lighter colors can help alleviate the feeling.

12 of 15

Keep It Simple

simple home office

Kateryna Gonchar

Your home office may be a simple table in the corner of the room, which is more than okay. Creating a chic office space is more about what you're going to do in it. Keeping things simple, with minimal dećor and a little plant life looks effortless in the best way,

13 of 15

Make The Most of Built-Ins

home office with built-ins for storage

Michelle Berwick Design

When decorating your home office, make the most of what you have. From storage to desk/counter space, built-in spaces can serve as a great foundation to build upon. Opt for similar colors and styles to what is already in place, then add your own personal touch to bring it to life.

14 of 15

Add Some Pattern

home office nook

LeClair Decor

While photos and small knick-knacks are great for decorating your office, you can add some flair in other ways. Adding an accent wall using subtle but stylish wallpaper can keep your space from feeling flat and clinical. Even small spaces, like a nook, can benefit from adding a dose of pattern.

15 of 15

Try Unique Accents

home office with gray and white plaid walls and floating shelf with plants

Design: Emily Henderson / Photo: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

If you want your space to stand out, there are unique accents you can implement. This home office designed by Emily Henderson boasts a gray and white plaid backdrop with modern accents. Mounted on the wall right above the desk, though, is a clear glass dry erase board. This allows the wallpaper patterns to shine through while also providing a place to write essential memos and keep necessary clips on hand.

Updated by
Lacey Ramburger
lacey ramburger bio
Lacey is an editor with 4 years of experience writing about and researching home décor trends, techniques, and helpful tips.
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  1. The "40-Hour" Workweek Is Actually Longer -- By Seven Hours. Gallup. August 29, 2014

  2. In U.S., 40% Get Less Than Recommended Amount of Sleep. Gallup. December 19, 2013