Working from home has become the norm for many of us these days. What used to be a rare opportunity has become much more commonplace. Whether you're working from home full-time or creating a home office space for your side pursuits, it's essential that you work in an area you enjoy.
Let’s face it—work is still work. Even the best jobs aren’t the same as a vacation or a spa day. That said, creating a home office that’s soothing, inviting, and comfortable will go a long way to making your workday feel like (more of) a luxury.
For most of us, working from home includes plenty of screen time, so it's crucial to balance technology with nature and the more organic world. Here are 9 tips for creating a home office space that’s nurturing and healthy.
1. Prioritize Natural Light
I’m such a fan of natural light. When working with the architects on our house, I made sure we included PLENTY of windows and opportunities to let in the sunshine. Natural light helps you connect with the outside world, and sitting by a window can be incredibly calming and rejuvenating.
Better still, natural light can help you feel more energetic and awake. If you feel that the 2 P.M. slump attacks you every day, working by a window can make a huge difference. Depending on the layout of your room, you may want to face a window, or work with a window to your side, so you can occasionally take screen breaks to rest your eyes and look off into the distance.
2. Choose Functional Pieces
For every room in your home, functionality is crucial. I frequently recommend people repurpose certain pieces or even seek pieces that can pull double duty. These “two-fors," like a cabinet with a desktop extension or a slim-profile sideboard that can be repurposed for your laptop, can really help you maximize your home office. It's imperative to use functional furniture in a small space.
I’ve seen perfectly practical, even beautiful offices built inside closets, guestrooms, and kitchen corners. You don't need a full room for most office endeavors. Look for purposeful, beautiful pieces that still enhance the room when you're not working. Built-ins and cupboards can make excellent alternatives to a messy dining table “desk.” Even better is the fact you can close them up and hide the chaos when you finish working for the day.
3. Create a Comfortable Space
Comfort is key to working well. If you're hunched on a kitchen stool or perching your laptop on your ottoman, you're probably experiencing back strain after a long workday. When you're creating a home office space, look for well-designed, ergonomic pieces that support you while you work.
Not everyone is ready to invest in a Herman Miller Aeron or classic Eames chair (nor do they complement every style), but a good office chair should be an investment piece. Depending on your space, budget, and personal preference, you can even find soft, comfortable desk chair options that will compliment your room style and surrounding decor. Look for durable but natural materials like leather, tweed, and linen. I personally love this velvet office chair in my own WFH setup.
4. Express Yourself
Your home is about creating a space that feels both beautiful and personalized. I recommend finding pieces that you genuinely love and weaving items into your décor that are particularly important to you. When creating a home office space, you'll want to surround yourself with articles that inspire creativity, help you focus, and evoke confidence.
For one homeowner I worked with, a college chair had tons of sentimental value. Rather than leaving it out of the mix, we incorporated it into the home office décor to create a space that felt truly special. If you have something meaningful—a desk blotter that belonged to a family member, an unusual paperweight from a vacation—make it a focal point of your home office.
Photography: Caroline Sharpnack
5. Bring in Some Nature
To make a space instantly feel more relaxed and timeless, bring in some nature. When I'm looking for pieces for a room, I'm often drawn to natural elements and subtle organic touches. Even drawer pulls made of raw quartz or agate, or a trim of visible woodgrain can be grounding. Look for natural, clean, eco-friendly materials.
Of course, one of the best ways to incorporate natural elements is to add plants to your home office space. Sometimes the contrast of green, lush life can balance electronics (like a computer or printer). A pretty stone pot, detailed woodwork, or artwork that depicts the outdoors can infuse the space with nature. Light, fresh colors, and earth tones help create an organic feel too.
6. Consider the Purpose of the Space
When creating a home office, it's essential to consider the purpose of the space. For most of us, that purpose is "to work," obviously, but it can help to think of how you want to work. Do you want a space that calms? An area for focus? A room of quiet creativity?
Once you have the purpose locked in your mind, you can really nail down the décor direction. If you're creating a home office in the corner of a dining room, for example, the room's purpose might be twofold—to create a sanctuary for work while also maintaining a beautiful place to eat. Ensure that each goal is served by the room design and that one activity doesn't override the other. (In other words, tuck those messy papers away in a basket, or close the cabinet when it's time to eat.)
Design: Marie Flanigan Interiors
7. Make Room for Multiple Users if Needed
Of course, we all would love to have ample office space for each person in our household, but that's not always the case. If you are working from home and sharing the space, it's essential to consider how you will create a home office space that meets all users' needs. You might prefer the look of complimentary desks or use a long table that can work for both users.
It’s also important to understand that not all of us work the same. Perhaps your spouse likes to listen to music or needs constant access to the kitchen coffeemaker, whereas you prefer quiet, uninterrupted work time. The solution may be adding a room dividing screen, creating two different home office areas, or investing in noise-canceling headphones. A good guideline is that when you've faced a dilemma more than once (for example, poor lighting on a video chat), invest in a solution or find a compromise that works for all parties.
8. Designate Storage
Working from home has significant perks, like cutting out the commute or working in your yoga pants. The drawbacks are balancing work with the rest of your life and keeping work clutter from interfering with your lifestyle. Designated storage solutions can go a long way toward taming the clutter and helping you find that sense of peace.
Storage needn’t be an eyesore, either. You can find desks with plenty of compartments, repurpose a woven basket, or opt for a side table with built-in storage. Paper clutter is one of the biggest sources of home office disarray, so keep it to a minimum whenever possible. Seek beautiful storage and filing solutions like wooden boxes or tucked away cabinetry to maintain order.
Photography: Caroline Sharpnack
9. Know Your Work Style
The biggest tip for creating a home office space you love is to thine own self be true. Know your work style and understand what YOU need from your workspace. This can take some time and adjustment, so change it up as you go. You may find that a beautiful gallery wall becomes your muse, or you may discover that you prefer working in another area of your home from time to time.
My living room has become a frequent workspace, even though I have a lovely (and quiet) desk in my guest bedroom. It’s about figuring out what works best for you, even if it’s unconventional. Maybe spending a few hours on the porch or working from your kitchen in the morning helps you feel energized.
Working from home is an incredible opportunity, and we're fortunate to have so many solutions to help us stay productive and successful. Remember to seek balance in your office space and create a space that feels welcoming, nurturing, and inspiring.
Let me know in the comments if you’re working from home these days. What are your biggest WFH challenges? What are the must-haves for creating a home office space?