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Room By Room

Productivity Guaranteed With These 10 Innovative Home Office Ideas

Words by Morgan Goldberg
a room with a table, chairs, and a painting on the wall

Photography by Tessa Neustadt; Design by Bobby Berk

If you’re still living with your March 2020 makeshift work-from-home setup, it might be time for an upgrade.

Let’s face it: some of us simply aren’t going back to a Monday-to-Friday in-office situation, and the kitchen island is only comfortable for so long. Whether a full renovation is in the cards or you just need a quick fix, there are so many easy upgrades that’ll improve your home office from the emergency situation you slapped together two years ago (and we’re not just talking ergonomic chairs—although your back will thank you for that one).

Our Experts have all the tips and tricks you need to make your no-longer temporary workspace functional (and pretty to look at!), from simply reorienting your desk towards a window to adding an inspiring mood board and maximizing a closet-sized workspace. Whatever your home office needs, we have the insights to help.

a home office with a bookcase, desk and chairs

Photography by Julie Soefer; Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors

Use Built-In Shelves

When renovating is an option, built-ins are certainly the way to go. Designer Marie Flanigan makes the case for built-ins in an elegant Houston, Texas library that features a wall-to-wall unit with two desks, a black bookcase, and a bevy of cabinets. The grand storage piece is paired with basket-weave wood floors for an overall stately look.

Meet with Marie Flanigan

a room with a desk and a painting on the wall

Photography by Helen Norman; Design by Lauren Liess

Maximize Your Footprint

If your home office is basically (or literally) a closet, designer and HGTV star Lauren Liess has the solution for you. An L-shaped desk will make the most of a small, narrow space and give you all the surface area you need to work efficiently. Add in a whimsical mural wallpaper and you can achieve a sense of escapism, too.

Meet with Lauren Liess

a living room filled with furniture and a large window

Photography by Stacy Zarin Goldberg; Design by Cameron Ruppert

Mix Bold Patterns

Some people find visual stimulation much more inspiring than a neutral setting. DC-based designer Cameron Ruppert is one such person, as evidenced by this bold, pattern-filled office she crafted in a Maryland home. She painted the ornate coffered ceiling and elaborate built-in storage in a deep blue, then layered a Persian rug with bright, Ikat curtains, and a traditional floral sofa.

Meet with Cameron Ruppert

a living room with a black and white rug

Photography by Tessa Neustadt; Design by Bobby Berk

Reorient Your Desk Towards Nature

For a home office upgrade that’s completely free, just move your desk to face a window. Though you might not have an expansive view of Los Angeles like Queer Eye’s Bobby Berk, the change of perspective and natural light will make your workdays much more bearable. Once your desk is angled towards nature, you can take a note from Berk and stick with a neutral color palette that blends in with the surroundings.

Meet with Bobby Berk

a living room filled with furniture and bookshelves

Photography by Laure Joliet; Design by Meghan Eisenberg

Incorporate Comfortable Seating

A home office isn’t all about the desk. In a recent New England project, Los Angeles-based designer Meghan Eisenberg proved that a study can revolve around comfortable seating for meetings or curling up with a book. While a small writing desk offers a typical upright workstation, the homeowners can lounge in the cozy leather armchairs or on the navy velvet sofa while they work, as well.

Meet with Meghan Eisenberg

a bedroom with a bed, chair, desk and window

Photography by Seth Caplan; Design by Ariel Okin

Install Window Treatments

Consider installing window treatments to give your home office some character. That’s what New York City designer Ariel Okin did in her former Upper East Side apartment. The Santa Barbara-inspired workspace, which doubles as a guest bedroom, combines cream-colored linen curtains with a natural woven shade to achieve a coastal aesthetic. Plus, her desk is facing the window to maximize sunlight.

Meet with Ariel Okin

a dining room with a table, chairs and pictures on the wall

Photography by Lillie Thompson; Design by Tali Roth

Focus on Fun Lighting

One of the best ways to add flair to a plain white office is with fun light fixtures. Take cues from Australian designer Tali Roth, who introduced squiggly candelabra wall sconces in her Melbourne office to create a fun focal point. She then continued the wiggly theme with a set of Méandre side chairs by Design Frères, which she described as “truly uncomfortable but so so attractive” in in interview with Domino.

Meet with Tali Roth

a room with a desk, chair, bookshelf and a lamp

Photography by Shade Degges; Design by Christina Cole & Co.

Go Dark and Dramatic

A coat of black paint can completely transform your space for the better. If you’re not convinced you can pull it off, just look at this dark, dramatic home office by Austin, Texas firm Christina Cole and Co., where the desk and floor-to-ceiling built-ins are painted an inky hue. It’s incredibly calming and the books serve as little sources of light.

Meet with Christina and Co.

a table with a vase of flowers on top of it

Photography by Kensington Leverne; Design by Studio Ashby

Hang a Mood Board

With a well-curated mood board, the inspiration never stops flowing. At least it seems to be true for designer Sophie Ashby of Studio Ashby, who equipped her London office and showroom with a large fabric bulletin board for pinning photos and materials to inform her projects. It also serves as a backdrop for a large table where her team can meet and brainstorm.

Meet with Sophie Ashby

a living room with a fireplace and a desk

Photography by Read McKendree; Design by Katie Rosenfeld

Put Up Wallpaper

Punch up your home office with patterned wallpaper like Boston designer Katie Rosenfeld did in this centuries-old Beacon Hill townhome. She used a traditional floral and animal print in the office to nod to the history of the house while bringing it into the 21st century. The room is complete with New England blue trim, a brick fireplace flanked by book-filled built-ins, and a desk facing the window.

Meet with Katie Rosenfeld

a room with a table, chairs, bookshelves and a ladder

Photography by Stacy Zarin Goldberg; Design by Cameron Ruppert

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