8 Ways to Carve out Space for Your Work Area
Turn a corner in any room into a home office that really works
But don’t just place a desk and a chair in an empty corner as an afterthought. These eight inspiring ideas can help you find the perfect spot for your home office and create a work area that is stylish, functional and stimulating.
When integrating a work area in an open, multifunctional space such as the living room, make sure that your office space doesn’t stick out physically or aesthetically. Use furniture and decor that fall into the rest of the space’s design vein, and ensure that they do not block foot traffic. One way to do this is to move the sofa to the centre of the room and put a long, narrow desk behind it. Pair it with a chair or stool that you can tuck completely under the desk. You can also make use of what’s available – shelving, a bookcase, a recessed area – where you can install a worktop and put in elements (a lamp or chair) that can also serve other purposes when you’re done working.
In this apartment, interior designer Jann Low of The 80’s Studio built a half-height concrete wall to demarcate the study area, and placed two pendant lamps over the desk. This way, the cosy study is physically separated from the living area, but remains visually connected to its surroundings because it exudes the same raw, industrial style.
A spare kitchen corner can be transformed into a double-duty work area. You could get some work done while keeping an eye on your dinner as it simmers on the stove, or on your child as he does his homework. Situate your desk at the end of a long counter or an empty corner beside the pantry so it’s near, but not too close to the action. This galley kitchen has a great dead spot on one end, making for a quiet nook for sorting out bills or for studying.
Design-wise, use the same cabinet colour and worktop material for your work space so it will seamlessly blend with the rest of your kitchen. Keep clutter at bay and save some work surface by using pullout shelves and drawers for your printer, other office gadgets, and documents. Paint a chalkboard wall so your kitchen work zone can also serve as your family’s central message centre.
If you don’t need much more than a writing desk, a computer, and some shelf space, then an unused corner in your walk-in closet can certainly fit the bill. Dedicate an end part of your closet for open shelves or cubbies for your books, folders and files.
Natural light spills into this walk-in closet designed by Architology, therefore, it’s fitting to situate the work desk by the window area. To blend with the rest of the space, the built-in desk is in the same laminate finish as the closet doors. An ergonomic chair and a soft rug add comfort. Sliding doors are in place to close off the walk-in closet from the bedroom, making way for a distraction-free home office.
Another option is to create a “now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t” kind of office setup in your bedroom. Fit your desk and shelves in an empty alcove and hang full-length drapes, which can literally hide the whole workspace from view when not in use. Make sure to decorate the office area in a way that it coordinates with the rest of the bedroom so that it looks great even when the drapes are tied back.
That awkward and often neglected space under the stairs can be a great spot for a compact workstation. Arrange floating shelves and a built-in desk around the available space to maximise the tiny footprint. Painting the walls in a vibrant colour, such as sunny yellow or refreshing meadow green, can add some punch to the space, as well as spark creativity. If you’d rather keep an overall neutral palette, elevate your under-the-stairs style with a statement chair, a cork wall, or eye-catching artwork instead.
It makes good sense for an infrequently used guest room to double as a home office. Since the bed would be hardly used, consider tucking it against the wall to make the most of your space. Perfect for this room both size- and function-wise is a daybed, where you can also spend some quiet time, or a murphy bed, which folds away into the wall. Even if the room is dual-purpose, it should still look and feel harmonious – conducive for work yet cosy for guests staying over. A neutral palette works well as an overall base, but don’t be afraid to play with colour through accessories or personal memorabilia to give the room some personality.
In this guest room-cum-study by Design Intervention, a large striped rug effectively defines the work area. The bed is tucked into the corner, making way for plenty of legroom for the workspace. “The queen-size bed has been wrapped with an L-shaped headboard and an abundance of throw cushions to disguise it as a welcoming daybed, perfect for lounging with a good book,” says designer Nikki Hunt. The bookshelf print of the wallpaper also captures the relaxing vibe of the room quite well.
Make a pass-through space more useful by placing a built-in desk along the stretch of a long empty wall. This is a practical setup that can accommodate more family members. Overhead storage is essential; you can have built-in cabinets or install long shelves to keep the space from looking cluttered. Do take note that the desk should not be too deep and the chairs can be tucked completely underneath to maintain a clear walkway.
You can also set shop in the living/dining room, near the stair landing, in your bedroom, or by the window – any under-utilised corner has the potential of being converted into a functional office space. Enclosing the work area in glass, as this design shows, is a great way to maintain a sense of privacy while preventing the feeling of being too confined in a tight space. Building up, rather than extending wide, using floating shelves also makes the most out of a compact space.
Keeping your home-office enclosed or putting it in plain view is really a matter of personal preference. What matters is to balance function and style.
In which part of your home did you set up your home office? How did you maximise the space?
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