Tips for Designing a Home Office

Home Design

Tips for Designing a Home Office

The line between working in and living in our homes has become less distinct – for all family members. And for this reason, more and more people want to have a home office, whether it’s a simple space for taking care of household business, a spot for the inevitable papers from school or the office, or a dedicated spot for homework and studying.

The sudden and unexpected shift to remote work for many Americans has put a premium on walls, doors, and extra space as millions search for a quiet and comfortable place to work. A new survey from Zillow® found a majority are making do without a dedicated home office for now, and many say they’ll consider a move to a home with more space if working remotely becomes a long-term reality.

A well-designed office area can provide a space that encourages productivity and reflects the style of the rest of your home. Finding space can be a challenge. If you’re fortunate to have a spare room, it’s easy to locate an office there. However, all too often, you’ll need to borrow space from an existing room – diplomatically, so as not to disturb the room‘s original purpose. A common spot is a corner of a kitchen or family room. The advantage is that the office is not separated from the day-to-day activities in the house; it also allows parents to monitor children’s Internet usage. We are seeing more and more home office trends emerge as workers continue their days remotely.

Working from home is exciting because it offers an opportunity for real comfort and efficiency, but if the office is too casual, or isn’t effectively separated from the home environment, peak productivity may be lost. While comfort is essential in any office, an office that is too casual may seriously impede the ability to get things done. You have to find a way to separate yourself from the rest of the goings-on in the home and to convey a sense of “off-limits” to all other normal and natural home sounds and interruptions.

A distinction has to be made regarding the physical boundaries of this working space. The most effective way to do that is with the design of the space itself.

The Rise of Resimercial Design In The Modern Workplace

“Resimercial” design originally referred to bringing a residential feel to commercial spaces in an effort to make employees feel more at home in the workplace. With the rise of work-at-home during the time of COVID-19, resimercial has evolved to mean investing in higher quality and/or commercial furniture for the home office environment. 

The benefits include:

1. Quality cabinetry that will stand up to daily wear and tear
2. Designed with office organization in mind
3. Built-in accessories to keep your work neatly organized
4. Increased productivity
5. Customization options such as desk heights, color, material, shape, privacy panels, and storage options.

Designing a Workspace

Some experts have said that there are only two essentials for a functional home workspace: a comfortable chair and a door that closes. For most people, though, there are probably a few more requirements. Basic elements of designing a room include smart space planning, adequate lighting, and sufficient storage. When thinking of the home office or study station, also consider functionality and inspirational comfort.

Start with your work surface. Stock desk units come in a variety of materials, but may be difficult to fit in your room. Modular office furniture is more flexible and is available in a number of styles. Flea market finds and antiques can be turned, with some judicious changes, into acceptable home office elements.

If you’ll be spending a lot of time working in the office, make sure to choose a chair with an adjustable seat and armrests to protect the spine and help reduce aches and injuries.

Where to Place Your Desk

Along with the other office space issues already mentioned, don’t forget about a crucial piece of your office. Your work desk will need to suit your work, fit your budget, and complement your office space. Some considerations in choosing your desk include the location of the office in your home, and whether or not you need space for multiple monitors, monitor stand(s), and a keyboard drawer.

Traditional Desk

A simple straight-forward desk is ideal for small spaces, if you prefer a minimalist design, or if you’re just starting and don’t have the budget for office furniture. A table can even work, although a desk with drawers offers storage to keep your desk clutter-free.

While you can put your desk against a wall, in many cases, regular desks can be placed almost anywhere, including in the middle of the room, perpendicular to a wall, or in front of a window. If your home office is in a bedroom, you can put the desk in the closet.

Desk With Hutch or Shelves

If you don’t have a lot of room, but still need something to keep all your tools and resources close, a desk with a hutch or bookshelves is a good option. Like the traditional straight desk, a desk with a hutch can take up little space, while offering more function.

Because desks with hutches take up vertical space, they’re usually placed against a wall. If you need the features of a hutch but can’t afford a new one, consider buying an inexpensive bookshelf to set on your desk, or hang shelves over your desk.

L-Shaped Desk

If you like to spread out or need many resources within reach, an L-shaped desk is a good option. An L-Shaped desk can sit in the corner to use up just a little space, or you can be creative, placing the desk like a V in the room. Or you can set the desk perpendicular to the wall, in which case you can have a bookcase or shelves along on the wall, creating a U-shaped work area.

If you can’t afford to buy an L-shaped desk, you can create your own using a table and an existing desk, or buying two desks from the thrift shop.

T-Shaped Desk

T-shaped desks are ideal if you have a partner or spouse you’re building your home business with, or need two work stations. A T-shaped desk can also have bookshelves or a hutch at the top of the T, giving you even more storage.

While you can create your own, using two desks at the top of the T, and two desks along the stem of the T, this can take up more room, and be more costly.

U-Shaped Desk

If you want a complete command center, a U-Shaped desk is a great option. A U-shaped desk takes up a lot of space, so it’s best in a larger room. The benefit is that you essentially get three work areas. If you need multiple monitors, but also, space to work on non-computer activities, a U-shaped desk can provide that. With a simple turn of your chair, you can switch your workstation. U-shaped desks can be expensive, but you can create your own buy putting desks and tables you already have or found at the local thrift store together in a U-pattern.

Galley Design

The galley design is essentially two desks laid out parallel to each other. It offers similar benefits that the U-shaped desk does in that you can swivel to work at one station or the other. It’s easy to create a galley design with two desks or a desk and regular table or buffet table.

Standup Desk

Research suggests that a sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to your health. One solution to sitting all day is to get a standing desk. A standing desk often has all the features of a traditional desk, such as a keyboard drawer and monitor stand, but it’s at a height that has you standing to work. With that said, other research suggests that standing all day isn’t necessarily good either. In that case, you can get an adjustable desk-top stand, which allows you to work sitting or standing.

Essential Details

Make a list of everything you need, from pencils and paper clips to research materials and file folders. Pick a color scheme and purchase the necessities in your favorite palette. Measure all the electronic equipment you’ll require to determine where it will fit best. And make sure you add some favorite framed photos or artwork to inspire you. To create softness and texture underfoot, layer on an area rug to anchor your space.

Light It Up

Natural light is great, but you’ll need ambient and task lighting as well. Here is another opportunity to add a bit of personal style to your space via lampshades, crystals, and fixture finishes. Watch out for the possibility of glare, especially when finding a place for your computer screen.

If your office space doesn’t have a door, you can establish a sense of privacy by the way you orient your work surface or by using a screen or file cabinets to mark off the area. An organized and visually appealing work area can help you feel more productive – and more relaxed.

Commit to your Space

For those of us who don’t have a home office – which is a lot of people – work-from-home routines can easily get derailed. Designating an area for work, even if that place is the bill-paying area in your kitchen, is a way to stay in your routine and get yourself in the work mindset. Whatever spot you choose, just make sure it feels like a dedicated and functional work area. That means adequate lighting, a comfortable chair – the right height for typing without strain – a seamless tech setup that allows you to take and make video calls without having to fiddle with plugs or wires, and an overall lack of clutter on your desk and the surrounding area.

Don’t Sacrifice Form for Function

Your desk, shelves, and storage should serve you, not the other way around. Consider your workflow and what items you need at your fingertips before investing in furniture, and then look for pieces that are both beautiful and functional.

Home office furniture should complement other rooms in your house instead of screaming “soulless cubicle.” If your home has traditional decor, warm wood and soft, comfy chairs or a loveseat are ideal if you have the space. A contemporary home office can feature artistic pieces or modern metal furniture.


This seems obvious, but let’s level with ourselves. When do we really get around to cleaning our desks? Well, now’s the time. Toss anything that needs to be thrown out, pair like items with like, contain those stray pens in one nice decorative cup, and make sure you have all your workday essentials close at hand and non-essential items moved elsewhere.

Curate an inspiration board

Now that you’ve set the stage, it’s time to look ahead. And that wall you’re looking at beyond your laptop should inspire you. This is as good a time as ever to put together an inspiration board and fill it with what makes you happy, from images of your favorite people and pets, to pictures of your goals (like that fabulous vacation you are going to take once we’ve all gotten through this tough time!). And yes, you can put your to-dos and important reminders up there too – but keep the focus on the positive and uplifting, and keep it right in your line of sight.

Do a background check

If video calls are part of your new day-to-day, think about what your colleagues are seeing behind you – like that pile of laundry or those mostly empty wine glasses. Keep things clean and uncluttered. And if you have the space, show off your style. Some good background options might be your favorite art piece, interesting souvenirs, or a not-overly-stuffed bookcase. Lastly, remember lighting: Your space should be adequately lit, or it’ll look like you’re dialing in from a submarine.

Set the mood

Never got your dream office? This is your moment. We bet scented candles aren’t allowed in your regular workspace, but you get to make the rules at home. Aromatherapy diffusers are another option if you’re worried about curious kids or pets. And now your playlist can softly waft overhead rather than through earphones. Similarly, set out some healthy snacks to avoid refrigerator trips, and nosh away. It’s okay for your home office to feel like your home, and especially now, it’s important to take time to indulge yourself with some creature comforts that feed your soul and make you feel calm and inspired.

How would you sum up the concept of home office design?

Make the space your own. Ensure that the space reflects your personality and that you enjoy being there. Ensure that your office reflects you and that it contains a favorite object or photo that will give you the break you need when you pause in your work. It is these small touches that help you make the space your own.

Your office should be a connection to yourself, your spirit, and your productivity. It should afford focus rather than distraction and be a place you want to be and want to spend time in. That will positively influence you in the space and enhance the work you do there.

Wondering how your ideas and goals for your space might look when designed by one of our Certified Professional Kitchen Designers? To get started, we’d love to send one of our qualified professional designers to your home and explore the options with you.  Contact us HERE or chat with us below to find out more. 

About Drury Design Kitchen and Bath Studio

Founded by Gail Drury, CMKBD in 1987, Drury Design’s Client Focused Design™ approach integrates design recommendations, materials selection, and construction management into one seamless customer design, project management, and build experience. For kitchen, bath, and home remodeling ideas view Drury Design’s design portfolio or stop by the studio at 512 N. Main Street in downtown Glen Ellyn, Illinois. 

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