Designing a home office is no easy task. Because if you get something wrong, you don’t just see it, you feel it—and you feel it every weekday from 9-to-5. A great home office is comfortable enough to spend all day in, minimal enough to keep you focused, and ideally, interesting enough to get your creative juices flowing.
“Life can feel frenetic enough as is,” Jennifer J. Morris, interior designer and principal at JMorris Design, says. “Setting up and prioritizing your workspace honors the hard work you do.”
Life can feel frenetic enough as is. Setting up and prioritizing your workspace honors the hard work you do.
Meet the Expert
- Jennifer J. Morris is an interior designer and the principal at JMorris Design.
- Jenny Kramer is a senior designer at Caroline Brackett Studio of Design.
- Ginger Curtis is the owner of and principal at Urbanology Designs.
- Betsy Moyer is a co-founder of and interior designer at Retreat, an experiential design firm.
Start by finding a spot to work. (No, it doesn’t need to be a separate room. According to Morris, you can do a lot with an unused closet.) Then, start piecing together your space.
And if you need inspiration, look no further. We’ve rounded up 31 truly stunning home offices—and highlighted a design idea worth stealing from each of them.
Put Function First
Designing a home office may sound daunting. Thankfully, the first step is simple: think about how you like to work.
“I start with understanding how the client needs the space to function,” Jenny Kramer, senior designer at Caroline Brackett Studio of Design, says. Ask yourself questions like: How do I like to work? What distracts me? And when am I most productive?
“For a home office, especially, function shouldn’t take a backseat to aesthetics,” Kramer says. “The two must work in tandem.” So, focus on what you need from the space. Then, think about how you want it to look.
Build the Storage Set-Up You Need
Most jobs require access to some kind of equipment—whether that be bulky printers and copiers, or sleek notepads and pens. But odds are, you don’t need all that equipment all the time.
“What type of equipment do you use in your job on a regular basis?” Kramer asks. “And what equipment and supplies do you need that you might not need full-time access to?”
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can craft a storage setup that meets your needs. One designer favorite is to build custom shelves and cabinetry.
“I love how custom built-ins house everything the client needs,” Kramer says. “If thought out and designed correctly, they can make workflow much smoother.”
Keep Distractions to a Minimum
When designing your home office, you want to set yourself up for success. And part of that means anticipating—and avoiding—the pain points you’re likely to experience.
“I often see people layout the furniture in a way that leads to distractions,” Kramer says.
Consider what you’re putting in your space and whether it actually needs to be there. Is that fun piece of décor making your office cozier and more functional, or is it going to pull your focus from your work?
Pick a Desk That Looks and Feels Good
Desks are the focal point of any home office, and you’ll want to consider what the desk feels like as well as what it looks like. “Always invest in properly proportioned desks,” Kramer says. After all, you’ll be spending most of the day there.
Look for a desk that’s big enough to serve as a comfortable workspace, and tall enough to accommodate your legs—then consider what it looks like.
“There are so many options available, you no longer have to sacrifice style for function,” Kramer adds.
Turn Your Monitor Into a Statement-Maker
Many of us use bulky desktop monitors while we work—and some of us use more than one. With a little creativity, you can make these utilitarian objects into a design feature.
“If you work from home, you might have multiple monitors for your computer,” Ginger Curtis, owner and principal at Urbanology Designs, says. “This can be a design challenge, but we have found that installing a framed TV as your monitor keeps your space clean and beautiful.”
Even if you don’t have the space to mount a TV on your wall, you can keep things sleek by matching your monitor to the rest of your color scheme. Pair gray art with a shiny silver monitor, or snag a monitor that suits your all-white-everything color scheme.
Paint Your Walls a Bold Color
A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in any space, and since home offices tend to be smaller than living rooms or bedrooms, you can get away with painting yours a bolder-than-average color.
“Paint is the best way to create an instant impact,” Curtis says. “If your office feels dull or you’re needing a change, a fresh coat of dark green or navy paint on your walls and cabinets can create an exciting sense of moodiness.”
Add Light Without Glare
When it comes to home offices, light is your friend. Just beware of glare. Morris recommends “lighting the space to see clearly, while avoiding glare.”
One of the most common mistakes she sees people make with home office design? “Computer location in relation to glare of light and windows—and not thinking about the best desk location,” Morris notes.
Pair bright windows with curtains you can adjust throughout the day, and snag lamps with built-in dimmers. Both of these additions should give you control over your home office ambiance.
Stock Up on Desk Accessories
Since home offices are such functional spaces, standard décor can feel out of place. If something’s pretty but not practical, does it really deserve a home there? Thankfully, just pretty and just practical aren’t your only options. And well-designed desk accessories can add function and form to your space in equal measure.
“Cute organizational desk accessories can make a big difference,” Morris says. “Pencil holders, cool staplers, and tape dispensers can really elevate your desk game.”
Find a Chair You Love to Sit In
A great chair isn’t just pretty—it’s also comfortable and supportive enough to spend all day in. “Ergonomics should be a big consideration when selecting desks and work chairs,” Morris says. She recommends finding a chair that feels comfortable to you.
Kramer agrees. “If you’re sitting all day, it’s important that your desk chair has good lumbar support,” she says. Comfort is worth investing in, and if the chair you’re eyeing will help you get your job done sans distractions, it’ll probably pay for itself in no time.
Turn Your Walls Into a Workspace
Floor space is often at a premium in home offices, but chances are, you’ve still got plenty of wall space. “I love incorporating gorgeous solutions that sneak in office needs,” Morris says. “I use a beautiful magnetic linen wallpaper a lot on areas above desks and empty walls.”
By pairing this wallpaper with a few magnets, you can mount calendars, inspiration items, and important documents on your walls.
If you don’t want to invest in wallpaper, you can always hang a big piece of corkboard to get a similar effect.
Sneak a Desk in Where You Can
Your home office doesn’t need to exist in a formal, separate room. If you’re pressed for space, all you really need is a place to sit and work. And with a little creativity, you can stick a desk just about anywhere. Turn a low-hanging shelf into a workspace, or sneak a desk underneath a window. Then, snag a sleek chair, and you should be good to go.
Keep Your Must-Haves Handy
Your home office shouldn’t just be easy on the eyes—it should also be easy to use. So make sure your must-haves are always conveniently within reach. According to Morris, “making clear homes” for your go-tos can go a long way. This might even mean leaving them sitting on your desk, rather than tucking them away—out of sight, out of mind, and out of reach.
Fill Your Space With Books
Books and home offices make a natural pair. Why? Your books need a place to live, and your home office needs some kind of distraction-free décor lining its shelves.
“If you have shelves, beautiful books are essential,” Curtis says. Use a few to spruce up your storage set-up, and keep your favorite reference books at the ready in case you need to check them throughout the workday.
Give Your Desk a Great View
When laying out your home office, consider where you’ll be looking. “I prefer to select the loveliest view of the room and orient the desk facing that way,” Betsy Moyer, co-founder and interior designer at Retreat, says.
But if distractions abound, you may be better off with a different set-up. “I find that having my back to the door—with perhaps a lovely view of my favorite curtains against a beautiful paint or wallpaper backdrop—is really how I want to stare off into space when I brainstorm the next big idea,” she adds.
And remember, you can always move your furniture if your current layout isn’t working. “Spend a little time testing the best place for your desk to be, considering views, lighting, and how people come into the room, Moyer notes.
Pair Decorative Lighting With Task Lighting
Since seeing clearly is a big part of getting your work done, you definitely want to get your home office lighting set up right.
“Lighting is an integral part of home office design,” Kramer says. She recommends mixing and matching different fixtures to add function and flexibility to your space—and a little style, as well.
“Mixing bold decorative lighting with important task lighting can be an opportunity for a fun juxtaposition,” she says. Pair your most practical task lamps with a few striking statement lamps for good measure.
Streamline Your Finishes
When designing your home office, you want to keep your space neat, tidy, and distraction-free, and streamlining your finishes can be a great way to do this. Morris notes that some of the first things she thinks about when designing a home office are layout, furniture, and finishes.
Consider pairing a gold desk lamp with matching gold picture frames, and maybe pick a desk with gold accents, too. Even sticking to two matching metals can keep your space feeling sleek and focus-friendly.
Leave Room for Clients and Coworkers
Before committing to a home office layout, consider who needs to use the space and how they need to use it. “Do you ever host clients/co-workers in your space?” Moyer asks.
If you need to share the space with others, be sure to leave room for them to comfortably join you any time they need to. If entertaining clients, place chairs on both sides of your desks. And if working alongside coworkers, snag a desk that’s big enough to accommodate a couple of chairs at a time.
Sprinkle in a Few Plants
Plants reliably brighten up any space, and few spaces need greenery as much as a home office. It doesn’t matter how striking your desk is or how many cute desk accessories you’ve scored—your home office is likely to feel monotonous over time.
“Always bring in some greenery,” Kramer says. “This will keep you energized and connected to nature throughout your workday.” Since plants naturally grow and change, they can be a great way to keep your space feeling new and interesting. Plus, they’ll literally freshen up the room.
Keep Things Tidy With Freestanding Storage
If you don’t have the budget to invest in built-in storage, there are still plenty of flexible storage solutions you can piece together to craft a custom setup of your own.
“Custom designing some freestanding organization for your specific needs is a major upgrade,” Moyer says. “Make sure all of your bits have a place, and you'll be able to keep your mind fresh and clean when you slip into the office to get some quality work done.”
Add a Lounge Area
Lounging and working may seem like polar opposites, but many home offices benefit from a built-in lounge area. “We love giving offices many purposes by creating lounge spaces,” Curtis says. “Adding chairs, a coffee table, and a daybed makes for a meaningful touchdown space in your home, and brings a level of elevation to your office space."
Curtis adds that one of the most common mistakes people make when designing a home office is not utilizing the space they have. Making your space multifunctional can be a great way around that.
Warm Up Your Space With Art
Décor can certainly get distracting—but emptiness can, too, so don’t forgo art entirely. Look for pieces with subtle palettes and simple imagery. A few prints could be all you need to fill your space without pulling focus away from your work.
Give Yourself Room to Move Around
The last thing anyone wants is a home office that feels crowded or cramped. So consider traffic flow as you craft your layout. “It’s really important to think about your flow and your potential pain points,” Morris says.
If you like to move around while you work, give yourself space to do so. And at least leave yourself enough room to get into and out of your home office with ease.
Make the Most of Your Corners
Corners are an underrated asset in any home office. Why? You can use them to create a sprawling L-shape desk, giving yourself even more space to work and move around. This is particularly helpful if you’re sharing your home office, but since more workspace is just about always a good thing, it should also be great if you’re flying solo.
Mount a Calendar in Plain Sight
Calendars can help you keep track of the days, weeks, and months that lie ahead. And by mounting one on your wall, you can keep an eye on upcoming commitments—without sparing any much-needed space on your desk.
Put Your Desk in the Middle of the Room
Placing your desk against the wall is a common—and often, sensible—choice. If space is limited and you’re working by yourself, there’s no need to place it anywhere else. But placing your desk toward the center of the room can look just as great.
“Oftentimes, the desk can be centered in the room and facing the door,” Moyer says. She notes that this layout can be particularly useful if you’re often hosting clients, coworkers, and other guests.
When in Doubt, Declutter
If your home office is in need of a tune-up, take a moment to declutter. “Take inventory. What do you have in the space that is not being used regularly?” Kramer says. “Remove those items or find smart storage solutions to move them out of sight.”
Switching up your storage set-up may be all you need to freshen up your space. And who knows? It could even help you focus. “A cluttered workspace impedes production,” Kramer says.
Consider the Color Temperature of Your Lights
“I'm a huge fan of getting the light right, especially in a workspace,” Moyer says. And according to her, that doesn’t just mean stocking up on the right combination of task, table, and overhead lighting. “Mind your bulb temps, and space your lighting according to workspace and task,” she says.
Play With Texture
When designing a home office, you’re usually optimizing for focus. This often means keeping distractions—and subsequently, color—to a minimum. But a subdued palette doesn’t have to mean a boring space. By switching up your textures—say, by pairing a cozy rug with a sleek desk and a woven chair—you can keep the room feeling dynamic, but not distracting.
Tilt Your Desk
Positioning your desk straight—either in the middle of the room or against the wall—is an easy choice. But it isn’t your only option. Depending on your needs, it may make sense to tilt your desk. By doing so, you can free up space for two chairs in a smaller home office. Or you can take up more space in a home office that feels too big.
Add Pops of Coziness Where You Can
Your future self will thank you for anything you can do to make your home office feel more welcoming. A fluffy rug can keep your feet cozy as you furiously type up a report. And a plush chair can keep you cushioned and comfortable as you tackle your next spreadsheet. These little additions may seem unnecessary. But anything that keeps you motivated and focused is probably worth the investment.
Sprinkle in Personal Touches
Remember that your home office is yours, so add pops of personality where you can. “Your office is a space where you can express things about yourself and bring in personal touches,” Kramer says. “We often find offices are a good opportunity to highlight things you love, like art, fashion, cars, etc.”
Ultimately, you want your home office to be a space where you feel good spending time. And if a sweet photograph or a few objets d’art will get you closer to that feeling, they’re worth it.