Working from home isn’t new—there have always been people who work remotely. But due to the pandemic, many of us have made the switch full time.
Not everyone has a spare room to turn into a home office, but just because you have limited space doesn’t mean you’re bound to your bed or kitchen table.
Here are some small home office ideas, broken down into four key points, as well as tips on how to keep your work and private life separate. With a little planning and creativity, you’ll be working from your very own home office in no time.
Find the best location for your small home office
When setting up your workstation, you can either turn an unused corner of a larger room into a home office or, you can convert a space that’s used for something else into a workstation.
Turn empty space into a workstation
Look around your home to find a spot that would fit a small desk and a chair. It may seem that there’s no free space anywhere, but you can often find some:
- Next to a window
- On top of the staircase
- In the hallway
- Under the stairs
- In the kitchen or the bedroom
- Inside a built-in closet (you’re going to have to move the clothes, of course)
Convert a storage room into a home office
If you prefer to have quieter without your household members walking past your desk, you can move your home office to a place that’s not used for work. For instance, consider turning one of these places into a small home office:
- The basement
- The garage
- The attic
Pick functional furniture and accessories
When working from home, it’s important that you have the kind of home office furniture and accessories that help you be more productive and organized. Here are some of the items you should consider.
Supportive home office chair
You could just grab a dining chair or sit on your bed while working. But sitting for long hours without proper support is unhealthy and might cause back problems.
Look for a chair with adjustable height and armrests to relieve shoulder and neck strain. The armrests should be adjustable as well so that your arms rest comfortably without you slouching.
Home office desk
Go for a narrow, slim-lined desk to save space.
A wall-mounted desk—also known as a floating desk—is a great choice if you’re setting up your home office in a small corner. Because the desk doesn’t have any legs, it takes up less space.
Try to find a desk that you can fold up and get out of the way when not working. Ideally, pick one that has small shelves or drawers where you can store your office supplies, like this desk below:
Try to avoid working at your dining or kitchen table, if possible. When you eat and work at separate places you’ll feel better rested after your lunch break—I know I do!
Working remotely often means cords running all over the floor and desk. To make it less likely that you’ll trip over one of those cords, invest in a cable organizer. It’ll keep all of the cords in one place.
There are multiple options available. The most common ones are cable boxes for storing chargers or trays you hang under your desk to prevent hanging wires, like this one:
Set up your workstation
You picked a comfortable home office chair, a sturdy desk, and a cable accessory—now let’s move to the next step.
Set up lighting
Set up lamps and task lights to help brighten the space. Lighting is important no matter where you work, but if you work from the garage or the basement, lack of natural lighting will probably be an issue. Try under-cabinet or shelf lights to brighten up your desk and make the whole area look a bit more inviting, like in this example:
Think about storage
A great way to make your workspace look tidy and welcoming is to keep office supplies in storage boxes. It’ll be mentally easier to separate your work life from your personal life when all of your work papers won’t be lying around at the end of the workday.
It’s particularly important if you set up your workstation in the basement or attic since they’re often not very homey. If there’s enough space, invest in a dedicated cabinet for all of your office supplies.
Another option is to take advantage of vertical space. Set up a shelf above the desk to store papers, notes, pens, and other things you need for work. Keeping it all out of your line of vision will help you stay focused.
Some spaces, like the attic or the garage, offer privacy from the get-go. With others, you’ll need to find a way to ensure that you won’t be disturbed.
For instance, when your home office is in the corner of the dining room or at the end of the hallway, it’s likely you’ll be distracted by other household members.
To keep distractions at bay, set up a room divider or a partition wall—look for a foldable option, so you can easily put it away at the end of your workday.
Or, hang a curtain. Curtains are a relatively inexpensive method for “closing the door” to your office. Choose curtains that match the interior of your room—that way, it’ll become a nice design element.
While room dividers and curtains won’t block any noise, they’ll make it easier for you to focus on work. They’re also a nifty psychological trick to help you switch from work mode to private.
Practice healthy work habits
Working from home, especially in small spaces, can be challenging. The blurring line between work time and home life means that you’re more likely to overwork yourself and feel exhausted by the end of the workday.
It’s important to pick the right work desk and ergonomic chair. But it’s just as important to introduce healthy work habits that will make working from home easier on you. Here are some tips on how to do that.
First, plan frequent breaks to keep your mind running smoothly. No one can be 100% productive throughout the day, so take small breaks away from the screen—go for a short walk, stretch, or make a cup of coffee.
You can use the Pomodoro method, which suggests taking 5-minute breaks for every 25-minute working period. Or, try the rule of 52 & 17—take 17-minute breaks every 52-minutes.
Secondly, set clear work-private life boundaries. When you clock out for the day, set yourself to “away” on your work messaging system, snooze your notifications, and close your laptop. Don’t check your work emails as soon as you open your eyes in the morning or after your workday. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but it’ll pay off in the long run.
Thirdly, create a morning routine and try to stick to it. Your morning routine is yours to figure out, just make sure you’ve taken care of yourself before you start your workday.
What I usually do—I wake up at least an hour before I clock in, do a short 20-minute workout, and then fix myself a delicious breakfast. That way, I get my body and mind moving so I can get into work mode.
How to decorate your home office?
Here’s a starter set of small home office decor ideas you can experiment with. For more home office design ideas, check out our blog on interior design.
Plants improve air quality and moisture, as well as increase happiness and productivity. The good news is that even if you work at a place with limited natural light, there are plenty of plants that prefer the shade. Choose your plant according to the light you have and the light it needs.
There’s always room for a little wall art—it’s an easy and inexpensive way to set the mood at your workplace. It could be motivational quotes to boost morale, calming landscape photography to stay mindful, or anything else you find inspiring or motivating.
If you can’t hang the posters, just prop them up on the table against the wall. Or, if you don’t have enough space for posters, you can always do postcards.
If you’re feeling particularly creative, you can create your own wall art design—Cover Design has a vast collection of posters, framed posters, and canvas prints you can choose from.
Working from home means that you need to think about how you present yourself on video calls. There are a few simple things you can experiment with to look more professional.
Get a coffee mug or a shirt with your company logo. If your company doesn’t make branded accessories or apparel yet, you can design them yourself using a print-on-demand provider like Cover Design
Every time you show up on a call in your branded shirt or sipping from your company coffee mug, you’ll be subtly reminding your team, partners, or customers that you mean business. Another great option is to use a virtual background with your company name or logo.
I hope after reading this blog post you agree that having a small space is no obstacle for creating a home office design that’s both practical and comfortable.
If you work from a home office, share your experience in the comments below—let us know what hacks have worked for you!