Once considered a luxury, small home offices have become a necessity for many in the post-pandemic world, with more of us working from home regularly or perhaps even permanently.
Whether you’re repurposing a box room to function as your tiny home office, have recently moved house to enjoy the benefits of office space, or are looking for ways to work a small workspace into an empty corner of your home, our small home office ideas are here to inspire. Designed with productivity in mind, these spaces are stylish and functional, whatever your work from home needs.
Small home office ideas
With a little thought, clever home office ideas and design know-how, it’s easy to create a productive working environment, no matter how little space you have access to.
From tips on how to make a small home office feel larger and ideas for transforming an unused space into a home working station to advice on choosing furniture, storage solutions, and paint shades for your tiny office space, our small home office ideas provide plenty of inspiration.
1. Fit a small home office into an awkward space
If you can’t dedicate an entire room to your dream home office setup, consider whether there are any awkward spaces in your home that, with a spruce up, could be transformed into a functional workspace.
Here, an area under a sloped ceiling – typically a difficult space to style – becomes an ideal small home office with minimal effort required. Printed wallpaper is used to add interest to the space and prevents the feeling of staring at a blank wall while you work.
2. Opt for simple and streamlined furniture styles
When choosing furniture for a small home office, opt for pieces that are simple, streamlined, and classic in their design.
Bulky furniture will overwhelm a small space, making it feel boxy. Contrastingly, streamlined solutions will open up the space, allowing it to feel larger and lighter. Plus, it’s well documented that a clear, clean, and simple space is of benefit to those seeking to increase their productivity.
3. Install a custom unit for a high-end home office
If your small home office setup calls for more than a desk and desk chair, consider investing in a custom unit to achieve a high-end finish.
Here, some clever thinking has transformed traditional kitchen cabinetry into a sleek but small home office. Complete with open shelving, deep drawers, and desk space for two, this home office makes the most of a compact space, while opting for a sage green paint shade and gold fixtures to ensure a smart, cohesive finish.
If space allows, you might even slot this small office space into an open-plan living area.
4. Hide your small home office at the end of the day
This solution was designed with small home offices in mind; a clever option for those whose rooms serve multiple purposes.
Anna Trinder, Director of The Dormy House (opens in new tab) told us: ‘With more employees working from home on a long term basis, it’s never been more important to balance your home and work life. Being both stylish and functional, our Bruton Home Office is the perfect small home office hideaway for when you’ve finished your working day, no matter how much space you have to play with.’
5. Opt for a light and bright scheme in a small home office
This clever small home office idea transforms dead space into a functional working environment and can be achieved on a small budget.
Opting for a simple white color scheme opens up the area, ensuring it reaches its lightest and brightest potential. A matching white writing desk blends in with ease, preventing the space from feeling cluttered, while sweet desk accessories and wall art prevent the all-white scheme from feeling too clinical.
6. Maximize storage potential in a small home office
If you’re running a small business from your small home office or have a job that requires plenty of paperwork, storage solutions are key to ensuring you remain organized. Here, built-in floor-to-ceiling solutions maximize a small space. Then, simply invest in some sweet boxes and shelf dividers and organize to your heart’s content.
7. Repurpose a small space
Hidden desk ideas are very popular for small home offices – especially those positioned in a room that has a second purpose.
Patrick O’Donnell, Brand Ambassador for Farrow & Ball, gave the following advice on designing a small home office: ‘Finding a suitable workstation, especially one that we can walk away from at the end of the day, feels like a luxury that few of us have but, there are some clever ways to get around this, such as re-purposing a built-in cupboard. With some de-cluttering and a little creativity, try painting the interior in a contrasting color. A restful blue such as Light Blue No.22 will create a gentle, calming backdrop for a good working environment.’
When it comes to choosing a color for your home office, Patrick adds that ‘Blues are a color of nature which has relaxing qualities, especially at the softer end of the spectrum.’
8. Prioritize natural light to make a small home office feel larger
Consider positioning your desk facing a window – an easy way to make a small workspace feel larger and lighter.
‘Lighting is an important consideration when designing a home working space. We recommend placing the desk close to natural light if possible, maybe even with a view of the garden or outdoors. This can be supplemented with task lighting, like a table or floor lamp for when the evening starts to draw in.’
9. Match furniture to your paint scheme for a smart finish
When it comes to home office paint colors for small space, it's tempting to choose light shades to reflect light. However, if limited space means that your home office consists of a desk and chair tucked neatly into the corner of your living room, you might consider opting for furniture in a similar hue to your paint scheme – the aim being to make the corner devoted to your small home office blend away rather than stand out.
Here, a dark wood desk and chair blend seamlessly into an on-trend dark blue living space, creating a smart cohesive feel. A stylish table lamp in a contrasting shade is not only a functional addition but adds some interest to the space, while a small art print is effective in helping zone the workstation.
10. Design an adaptable alcove office
This alcove office was designed with flexibility in mind, which is just what you need if your small home office will be required to serve multiple purposes. In addition to being the ideal space for home working, it also makes a suitable homework station for teenagers. Simple shelving provides plenty of storage potential, while a fresh blue paint scheme ensures the space will serve a variety of needs.
11. Make a small home office stand out
When contemplating a home office scheme, function – such as storage – must be central to your design, but does not have to be visually dominant. Choosing an eye-catching focus, such as a statement office chair or a beautiful antique desk, even a work of art, will distract from the room’s purpose and make it feel as considered as a living space.
‘Your design approach to a home office is not unlike any other room in the house,’ advises interior designer Athena Calderone (opens in new tab). 'It should speak your visual language and evoke personality. But perhaps the most important thing to remember is the delicate dance between aesthetics and utility. A workspace should be designed to inspire and motivate you each day, but also be grounded in practicality.’
12. Purpose-design a small home office
A small home office design gives you the perfect opportunity to be efficient with space, positioning the desk, storage, and everything else you need along one wall, so that everything is to hand and neat – here, simple shelving doubles as a desk, too, to keep the space streamlined.
'The beauty of this small home office, for me, is the window,' says Homes & Gardens' Editor in Chief Lucy Searle. 'The room is small and boxy, and designed with just one purpose in mind: working, but the connection to the view outside through the floor to ceiling window elevates the space from enclosed attic space to a bright space that's bound to inspire.'
How do I make a small home office look bigger?
To make a small home office look bigger with ease, it is a good idea to reach for light paint shades. White paint will make a small space look larger and lighter, but if you are concerned about your small home office looking too clinical, other options include light shades of green and blue which will not only have a space-enhancing effect but are also recognized for their calming properties.
From there, it is best to avoid large, bulky furniture with a dark finish. Instead, opt for simple, streamlined solutions in light wood or white. Ensure you have effective storage solutions – particularly if your work calls for plenty of paperwork – as a cluttered space will look significantly smaller than an office that is neat and organized.
How do I maximize a small home office?
To maximize a small home office, it is best to think about the purpose you want your workspace to serve from the outset and to prioritize investing in quality pieces that will ensure a healthy working environment. This way, you will avoid filling the space with unnecessary furniture and accessories which will make the space feel smaller than it is.
If all your work setup requires is a desk and desk chair, avoid being drawn into purchasing unnecessary storage solutions which will only be left unused. Conversely, if you know that you require ample storage, consider investing in a custom office space that will maximize the potential of your small space.
Emily first (temporarily) joined the Real Homes team while interning on her summer break from university. After graduating, she worked on several publications before joining Real Homes as Staff Writer full time in mid-2018. She left the brand in 2020 to join the police force but continues to write for Homes & Gardens about interiors.
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