4 Must-have Features for a Small Home Office
A designer shares tips for creating a compact office space that works hard without taking a day off from style
One thing I’ve learned as a designer is that everyone’s concept of ‘small space’ is different, and it’s worth noting that the photos used in this article don’t necessarily feature small rooms. They do, however, illustrate details that work especially well in compact areas. Also be aware that these professionally shot photos depict spaces that haven’t been lived in yet and don’t contain home office equipment such as computers and printers.
With those things in mind, check out the four features I always return to whenever a homeowner wants to create a small but stylish and functional home office.
There are many upsides to working from home, but one thing I always tell my clients is that it’s important to carve out space that separates the job from personal life. That will help you to focus on the work at the start of the day and allow you to step away at the end.
When it comes to rooms with less square footage, maximising floor space is also at the top of my priority list.
Wall-mounted anything frees up a huge amount of physical and visual space, so I highly recommend considering a wall-mounted desk, as well as wall-mounted lighting (more on that below). This is especially helpful in a super-narrow room where a traditional desk might not fit comfortably.
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The ability to customise the height of a floating desk is also one of the strong points of going this route. If you prefer your work surface to be higher or lower than standard (around 75cm), depending on your height or the level at which you like to work, then going this direction makes sense. It also allows you to make adequate room for your chair, filing cabinet or printing equipment.
Keep in mind, however, that there are a couple of downsides to consider. A floating desk is difficult to relocate if you want to change its position or move home. Plus, a floating desk is usually smaller than a traditional desk, especially in depth. They work well for using a laptop or doing other compact tasks. If your work requires you to spread out a bit, then you might want to consider another option.
Research has shown that engaging in cultural activities, including viewing artwork, correlates with better health, more satisfaction with one’s life, and lower rates of anxiety and depression.
That’s why I always urge clients to fill their homes with art pieces they feel a deep connection with. And it’s especially important in a home office.
The reality is, work can sometimes make us stressed and anxious, and if we can take even a few moments out of our day to pause and engage with something that brings us joy, we should do it.
Of course, viewing nature has a strong effect as well. So if you have a great view from your home office, focus on that and use art as a secondary focal point, such as behind your chair or on an opposite wall.
If your desk faces a blank wall, though, art becomes even more important.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing art, except maybe to listen to your heart. Try not to let someone else tell you what to like. Instead, take some time to browse various artists wherever you can and pay attention to that little flicker within that signals you’ve found a meaningful piece.
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For example, traditional interiors can take modern art and contemporary rooms can accept antique-style works. Sometimes I find it’s actually better to mix it up; the tension creates a more layered, visually interesting look.
You might also enjoy 5 Ways to Bring Mood-boosting Nature Into Your Home Office.
Good interior lighting plans are all about combining the right lighting in the right places. When we’re limited on floor space, we can naturally look to ceilings and walls for opportunities to shine light down.
Wall sconces can be used to create excellent task lighting in an office setting. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to add some visual adornment that ups the style in the room. You can hardwire sconces – usually with the help of an electrician – behind a wall to eliminate seeing the cord, helping with that sleek aesthetic I mentioned earlier. Or you can easily install plug-in sconces yourself.
There are also stylish clip-on options, like the one shown here, that give you the same look and feel without the need for drilling.
To get the most out of your wall lights, placement is key. A good starting guideline is to hang them at approximately eye level (about 155cm to 180cm), although the height of your ceiling and the size of the fixture will come into play.
A critical point to remember is that whatever height you hang your wall light, you shouldn’t come eye to eye with an exposed bulb, unless the bulb is decorative and designed to be viewed directly.
As we’ve established, your workplace greatly affects your psychological and physical health, so it’s important to make sure your space reinforces that. Therefore, the furniture pieces should be the highest possible quality within your budget. This is not an area where you want to skimp.
Invest in a good chair, choose a soothing colour palette and don’t forget to add some style with art and accessories. When you feel good in your environment and know that you’ve invested in it, your motivation and productivity will benefit.
Which of these home office ideas inspires you? Share your thoughts in the Comments