Whether you spend some of your working week at home, or work from home full-time, then practical home office layout ideas are essential. While a makeshift desk might once have worked in the short term, if your set-up has changed to a more permanent basis, then a re-evaluation of your work space and home office layout is probably long overdue.
The location of your home office is key when it comes to achieving a good layout that allows your home office ideas to work smoothly and effectively. If you have the luxury of your own office in a separate room, then working out a layout that suits your specific requirements shouldn’t prove too tricky. If it’s a shared office space, then you’ll need to factor in the needs of other family members too, while if it’s a shared area, such as a living or dining room, then a compact work set-up that won’t interfere with other activities is a must.
Home office layout ideas
‘A well-curated home office has numerous benefits, from increasing productivity to maintaining good physical and mental wellbeing,’ says Rachel Fell, Furniture Buying Manager at Habitat (opens in new tab). ‘And with many more people now working from home, it’s always good to re-evaluate the home workspace, upgrading makeshift areas to more permanent set-ups and breathing new life into these all-important zones.’
1. Find the right spot for your desk
The desk is the most important feature of any home office, so making sure that you put it in the right spot is key. Positioning the desk so that it faces the door where you can greet visitors is good if your work involves lots of meetings. If that’s not possible to include in your small home office ideas, and the desk needs to be positioned facing a wall, then opt for a soft and soothing wall colour when considering paint ideas, alternatively opt for calming foliage and greenery or inspirational wall art.
Position the desk as close to a natural light source as you can. If facing a window is too distracting, then set it at a right angle so that you’ll get plenty of incoming light and can enjoy the view when you’re on a break. If the window is behind your desk, add a light-filtering window covering to prevent glare on your computer screen.
2. Plan out the lighting
No matter how much natural light your office space receives, additional home office lighting ideas will need to be factored in for evenings and autumn and winter months when the light is gloomier.
Consider where your light source is coming from when setting up your work space. A light set behind you is likely to cause glare on your screen and might mean that you are working in shadow, so consider adjusting the positioning of overhead lighting to counteract this. Or bring in an adjustable desk lamp to boost light levels. Position so that light comes from the left side if you are right-handed, and vice versa if you are left handed.
3. Utilise a divider to create a private zone
If space is super tight and working from home in a shared space is the only option, then try to tuck the desk away in as quiet a spot as you can. A temporary screen, panel or shelving unit that acts as a room divider can all help to provide extra privacy while working. Tall, floor-standing plants and greenery are another option that can help to screen-off an area and help deaden outside noise a little.
‘Opt for a room divider or desk with built-in walls to carve out a designated area for work. Isolating the workspace in this way evokes an element of seclusion which encourages focus and concentration,’ says Rachel Fell at Habitat (opens in new tab). ‘These clear physical boundaries also help mentally separate office and living areas, meaning it’s easier to leave work behind at the end of the day.’
4. Keep inspiration close to hand
While an outwardly-facing desk is often recommended, it will require more space, which isn’t always possible if you’re squeezing a desk into a shared living area. Practical elements, such as the location of electrical sockets, need to be considered too. If you have a computer and equipment that needs to be plugged in, while you can look into how to hide wires, trailing wires could be a problem for any centrally-positioned desk.
If the most practical home office layout means that your desk needs to be positioned facing a wall, then use it as an opportunity to get creative with your wall space. Treat the whole area as a supersized pinboard, covering the wall with cork tiles, so you can pin up reference materials, swatches and favourite pictures that will bring inspiration when you’re working away.
5. Zone out a work corner
Making use of a corner is a clever way of gaining extra surface space without encroaching on too-much floor space. Triangular-shaped desks are a smart compact home office desk ideas that will slot neatly into a corner if space is super-tight.
Alternatively, an L-shaped desk set-up offers extra desktop space, with two surfaces set at right angles to each other. L-shaped configurations work well in open-plan living spaces and are a useful way of defining a separate work-space zone.
‘Home working shows no sign of abating, so as a design studio we continue to put emphasis on products that support flexible living,’ says Ben Stanton, Designer at Habitat (opens in new tab). ‘This desk unit (opens in new tab)(shown above) is designed and built to increase storage solutions whilst being adaptable to different home office needs. The unique swivel mechanism allows for a multitude of positions: the ‘L’ shaped desk can zone a space or make the most of unused corners, and it can also extend flat against a wall.’
6. Go for a multi-tasking work table
Whether you work from home, want a desk to do paperwork or a space where the kids can spread out and do their homework, a work table can be a useful addition in a family room or open-plan living space.
A peninsula-style desk or table is a space-saving option if you don’t have the space for a central work table. With one end positioned against a wall, it will take up less floor space, while still allowing traffic to go round it at one end.
7. Double up desks in a shared space
If more than one family member is working from home at the same time, then working out an arrangement that accommodates both is needed if ‘hot desking’ is out of the equation.
Consider butting two desks up against each other, his-and-hers style, and setting them centrally in the middle of a room. Or position them with one end against the wall in a peninsula-style set-up. Both arrangements will require face-to-face working, but as long as that won’t be a distraction, it can be a good use of space.
8. Switch to side-by-side working
If face-to-face desks aren’t an option, or your office space is long and narrow, then consider a side-by-side arrangement instead. Positioning two desks next to each other will mean that each person has their own individual space, but can swivel round and interact with each other when necessary.
Use the wall space above the two desks for extra storage so that the floor space doesn’t feel too crowded. Open shelves and cubbies are handy home office storage ideas for files, books and paperwork and are easier to access than cabinets.
9. Set up a home hub
Integrate a central hub in your open-plan living room ideas or family room with a high work table and stools set-up that will give plenty of table space for all the family to work at. Choose materials that blend in with and complement the room’s decor and use a large rug as an anchor point to help define the work area more prominently.
10. Section-off an office space
Sneak a compact desk set-up into your hallway ideas or upstairs landing if you don’t have the space for a dedicated home office. A slimline desk makes a handy landing spot for a laptop and can be tucked neatly away into a recess or alcove.
Timber panelling can be used to create a simple room divider that will provide a little extra screening and privacy in an open area. Vertical uprights can be fixed onto battens to section-off an area, with open slats that will still let plenty of light through.
How do you set up a home office layout?
When setting up a home office you need to first consider the size of the room you’re planning to use as a home office. If you are working with a dedicated room you’ll have a lot more freedom with the layout, and therefore alot more decisions to make than if you’re converting a small closet into a dedicated work space.
Your starting point is to work out the best place for your desk, that could be under a window if you have one or close to the sockets. Once you have decided on the location, before you buy any furniture work out how much space you have for the desk and office chair to fit in comfortably. You should be able to pull the chair in and out easily, and have enough space for a laptop as a bare minimum.
Once that central decision has been made, you can start building your home office layout around it and start including lighting, followed by storage. Lighting is an incredibly important part, aim to include task lighting over the desk and ambient lighting for a productive work zone.
When planning out storage, consider what you actually need to store in your home office and the space you have available. Whatever, you plan in, whether it be shelves or drawers, make sure you can easily access everything on the shelf without having to move anything out of the way.
Which way should a desk face in a home office?
Where you position your desk will dependent on the size and layout of the room you are working with. If possible avoid having your desk facing wall, this is a big interior design no-no. To quote Michelle Ogundehin from the home office episode of Interior Design Masters: ‘it’s like putting yourself in detention.’
Ideally aim to position your desk looking out over the room, with a window to the side to provide plenty of natural light. However, if you’re working with a section of another room or a small space try aim to position your desk next or under a window, so you have light and something to look at.
If you have no option but to position your desk up against a wall make sure you have fun with your home office wall decor ideas. Hanging plants or wall art, can help liven up a dull wall, and even boost productivity.
Your home office layout ideas should inspire productivity, so if you’re struggling to work in your current set up it could be time for a change.