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ikea small home office in living room white desk and storage cabinet

6 Tips for Squeezing a Small Home Office into Any Room (And Where to Buy Supplies)

Squeezing a small home office into your space has been a challenge we’ve all tried to master over the last year. And if there’s a few of you in the home, finding ways to make multiple desks work might feel near to impossible.

It can be done though. Because I say that it’s time to cancel working at the kitchen counter. It’s time to leave latopping in bed behind. In today’s post I want to give you some ideas and inspo to create a small home office in any room at home; one that not only works for you but looks good too.

Check out the video below that I filmed with Metricon recently, and then scroll on for stacks of ideas and best buys to make your home office shine.

1. Find the Right Location in Your Home

Location is key when it comes to finding the right space to work from at home. You’ll want to consider the following when picking the best spot in the house:

  • Natural light is your friend. It boosts motivation. If you can sit near a window you’ll find yourself waaaaay more productive and inspired than if you’re in a dark corner.
  • Don’t sit with your back to the window. While natural light is amazing, glare on your computer screen will drive you batty. Sitting adjacent to the window is the best option here.
  • Think about noise and interruption. It might be best to have a small home office zone in your bedroom, rather than near the kitchen where noise and chaos is hard to tame.

What’s Going on Behind You?

Have a think about what’s in the background of your home office. Nobody wants to get on a Zoom and see your cat using the litter in the distance (yes, this has happened to me. It wasn’t cute). Ensure the backdrop works.

alcoy desk super amart scandi home office desk for small space
Alcoy desk from Super Amart. Click to Shop

2. Choose the Right-Looking Desk for the Room

We’re not going for a permanent, fixed joinery situation here. We’re after something lightweight and functional that can be moved out of the home should you return to the office. We want it to be fairly affordable, but by no means should you just buy the first thing you see.

You want the desk in your small home office zone to work with the other elements in the space. You want it to feel like it belongs there, rather than it being a makeshift accident you threw together at the last minute.

If you’re in a bedroom, look at the material/finish of your bedside tables and replicate that look and feel in your desk. If you’re in a living room, take cues from the TV unit or coffee table. You want to consider the overall vibe or interior design style you have going on at home and then choose a desk that fits in with that style.

kmart desk with storage drawers oak
Budget option from kmart. Click to shop.

3. Storage is Key in a Small Home Office

In a smaller home office that’s in a living room, bedroom or hallway, you really want to reduce the mess and visual bulk in the area. With that in mind, it’s best to choose a desk with a drawer, for starters, but a desk with some additional storage on the side, like built-in shelves, would also be smart.

The desk in the video at the top of the post is from Officeworks and I love it because you can hide the messy stuff in the drawer, but then store stationery and other office supplies on the side shelf in stylish trays or boxes.

If you’re really tight on floor space, consider going up! There are plenty of retails with great desks that have built in storage above in the one contained unit.

home office chairs on wheels upholstered

4. The Chair is Equally Important

Do not just steal a chair from your dining table and drag it over to your desk each morning. Dining chairs aren’t ergonomically designed the way office chairs are. They’re not meant to be sat in for eight hours (that would be one long, arduous dinner), so leave those at the table and embrace something different in your small home office nook.

That’s not to say the chairs can’t speak to one another stylistically. You want them to be a similar colour or at least feel a bit related. Not twins, not even sisters, but perhaps cousins.

You’ll also need to consider what kind of flooring you have, because chair legs on carpet is a whooole other story than chair legs on floorboards. For carpet, as ugly as they are, I’d recommend a plastic chair mat so you don’t get permanent indents in your carpet. Wheels on carpet are also a nightmare to move around in, so floor mats are a godsend.

small home office desk styling ideas

5. Now Let’s Split the Desk Top in Three

In a small home office where you don’t have mountains of space, I like to style the desk by splitting it in three. You can see it at work in the video further up and in the freeze frame above. Essentially you want to divide the top of your desk up into three zones…

The left zone: work

This side is for work stuff; pen holders, inboxes, stationery, trays, you name it. Of course, just because it’s functional doesn’t mean it can’t be curated and look amazing. Officeworks or kikki.K are amazing for releasing collections you can buy that feel wonderfully curated by colour and style.

In the middle: computer

This is where your computer goes. Be it a laptop or PC, it’s going to dominate the centre pillar of the desk.

If you are using a laptop, I would seriously consider a laptop stand. Your neck will thank you for it. There’s nothing worse than looking down at a laptop for eight hours straight. It’s an ergonomic nightmare I’d like you to avoid.

On the right: styling

This is where I like to get creative with decorative elements. This is where you can work in a photo, an indoor plant (real or fake), and a candle. I’m a huge candle addict so I need scent going while I work.

Here’s a list of our top Aussie candle brands so you can deck out your desk with one.

The trick is to not clog the desktop too much, but definitely make it your own. You want it to be a balance of work and ‘you’, so ensure it feels curated in colour and style and the end result will look stunning.

mid century oak home office desk temple and webster
Nimbus desk from Temple & Webster. Click to shop.

6. Lastly, What’s Happening Behind your Screen?

If you have your desk facing a window, you’re living the dream. Hopefully you have something lovely to look out onto that can give you a few seconds of visual rest throughout the day.

If you’re pushed up against a wall, I feel your pain, but you can still creating something marvellous to look at that inspires you or gets you out of ‘work mode’ even just for a few moments here and there.

Consider a scenic artwork above your desk that feels like a scene you can escape to. Failing that, you might want to buy a moodboard you can stick photos and other pictures or quotes onto. Or you might want to create a small gallery wall of family photos. My advice: you do you. Just create something that’s lovely to look at.

ikea small home office terracotta paint and pin board

How is your small home office going at your place? I’d love to know how you’ve made it your own or where you got some amazing products from. Drop me a comment below and link me to anything amazing you’ve found.

This post includes images and/or videos of Metricon display homes and events, reproduced with permission. © Metricon Homes Pty Ltd 2021.


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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