How to Design a Home Office

Ideas to make your workspace work for you

By Jan Soults Walker

Make your home office as beautiful as the rest of your house and you'll look forward to spending time there—even when you have to work.

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Cozy Contemporary Home Office by Lauren Muse
Lauren Muse

Style. For a home office that's part of another room, such as the family room, keep the look consistent with the rest of the space. If your home office is a separate room, however, you can make it personal—especially if the home office is for your use alone.

Learn how to carve out a workspace in your room. 

For example, if your significant other isn't crazy about your collection of folk art pieces, your home office is the perfect space to showcase what you love. Surrounding yourself with treasured belongings fuels productivity as well as creativity.

Color palette. Find inspiration for your color palette from some of your favorite things, such as a piece of dinnerware or favorite accessory. You can also start with a fabric for a window treatment or accent pillow, or pull colors from a signature piece of artwork you want to display. Visit the paint aisle at home improvement stores to peruse color collections as well. 

Work area. Select a desk and chair to communicate your style, whether contemporary, traditional, vintage, or something in between. Make sure you have the appropriate amount of work surface for the tasks you need to perform. If you have lots of paperwork to spread out, select a generously sized desktop. Or, you may prefer using a lap desk while sitting in a comfy, oversize club chair with an ottoman to prop up your feet.

Storage. Make your office orderly and clutter-free with well-planned storage to minimize stress and optimize appearances. Take stock of office equipment, supplies, books, magazines, files, and anything else that you may need to store for easy access. Look for both closed storage and open shelves and add bins, baskets, and dividers to make everything as organized as it is good-looking. And if your office features a closet, consider designing a closet storage system using wire, laminate, or wood components for organizing office needs.

Flooring. Select flooring to provide comfort and beauty underfoot. Wood flooring offers an attractive surface that's warm, easy on your feet, and low maintenance with today's finishes. Rigid surfaces, such as wood, tile, or laminate allow casters on your office chair or file cabinets to roll easily. Consider adding an area rug: It can anchor a seating group or conference table and provide a warmer landing spot for bare feet. 

Airy Country/Rustic Home Office by Laura Bohn
Laura Bohn

Walls. Choose wall color to reflect your palette choice or go with a neutral tone and instill color with furnishings and accessories. While some vertical space can provide storage opportunities, allocate spots for artwork and photos as well as for a calendar or other visual planning aids.

For more tips, see How to Choose Wall Paint Colors.

Windows. Provide window coverings for privacy and sun control, depending on the time of day you'll use the office. Shutters and blinds let you adjust the amount of light coming in while providing a clean look to suit a variety of styles. Pleated honeycomb shades offer the added benefit of insulation. Pair blinds, shades, or shutters with fabric panels, if you wish, to introduce softness as well as another layer of color and pattern to the space.

Get inspired with this gallery, Window Wonderland: 10 Great Window Treatments.

Lighting. In addition to ensuring your office has good overall lighting, include task lighting at the desk, worktops, and near storage to eliminate shadows. Lighting fixtures come in a wide variety of styles and materials to complement your setting. 

The extras. Include decorative pillows, accessories, artwork, and photos to personalize your home office. Selecting neutral furnishings, flooring, and wall color lets you change accessories with the seasons so your home office will never be boring.

For more home office design ideas, check out Home Offices for Every Style.

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