Before 2020, home offices were a 'nice to have,' but they were rarely used (unless you already worked from home). Today, with the rise of hybrid and remote working, they've become a norm across the US.
If you work from home, you likely spend most of your day in your office space, so it's important to pick the best home office layout for you. And your job. For example, will you need a seating area for clients who come in? Do you need a multifunctional workspace? Are you sharing the office?
The best home office setup also depends on how much square footage you have to play with and what your floor plan looks like. After all, an office in a spacious separate room will look much different than a small work area in the corner of the living room.
This guide features nine of our favorite home office layout ideas, complete with input and design tips from expert interior designers. You might pick one and stick with it, or you may need to merge a few home office design ideas to create the perfect one for you — keep reading to get inspired.
1. The "Dreamy Minimalist" Office
A minimalist home office space can help you create a clean and calming work area, which is always a bonus on busy days. If space allows, try floating the desk in the middle of the room as the focal point. With this placement, you can position a cabinet or hutch behind your desk setup, with artwork on the wall to complete the look.
This minimalist setup also leaves plenty of room for a modern desk chair designed for ergonomics, which is essential if you spend long hours at your desk. And natural daylight is an excellent addition if you spend a lot of time in your home office — however, you'll want curtains or blinds to filter harsh light to prevent glare during the sunniest hours of the day.
"We designed this home office with less clutter in mind, but we also added a window bench because minimalists like to daydream too," said Leigh Spicher while explaining this beautiful home office layout idea. "This minimalist design also includes harmony between contrasting elements — for example, the straight edges are softened with window shades and leather pillows."
2. The "No More Paper Files" Office
It's a hard truth for some, but many of us no longer need those bulky filing cabinets full of hanging files. Today's home offices can feature less storage, focusing more on inspiring aesthetics like natural wood and natural light.
This home office layout idea also floats a desk in the center of the room and features artwork behind the work surface. Emily Mackie offered the following creative cable management ideas to keep this look tidy:
Inexpensive rug to hide the power cord: "You can use an inexpensive rug and run the power cord from the computer and through a grommet/hole in the desk."
Tape the cord to the floor: "Try taping the wires down the leg and then to the floor under the rug."
Find solutions that work for you: "Look at Pinterest for some cable management ideas and how to hide wires in troughs."
3. The "Plays Nice with Others" Office
If you need a home office idea to accommodate more than one person, one long desk facing the wall might do the trick. With built-in open shelving above the desk for storage, you'll leave plenty of room to spread and get work done. In addition, this design leaves space for furniture in the rest of the room, even if you're working with a small office — you can add some stools and poufs for extra versatility.
You won't want to be facing a blank wall, so make sure to jazz it up with fun wallpaper or artwork to add a pop of color. If you have windows behind your workspace, don't forget curtains to help manage glare. And for privacy, a folding room divider will do the trick when you need to focus.
"As much as we all want a private office, those spaces can be in short supply at home. So we designed a shared space that can be both creatively inspirational and productive. Skip the traditional bulky desk and opt for a long linear counter space, where two to three people can work collectively," explained Leigh Spicher.
4. The "Anti-Office" Office
Sometimes we just need a quiet space to work, which doesn't always require a desk and office chair. Today we're seeing more "work" spaces and fewer "office" spaces — this room can double as a lounge space to connect with others or simply a living area to use for reading and studying. Tech is optional with anti-office room ideas; some jobs may require it, while others don't.
You might create your space by centering comfy seating around a spacious coffee table that’s large enough to spread out on when you need to. But if you're short on square footage, this design can work in any living space.
Even small spaces should have room for an overhead light fixture, comfy seating, and soothing artwork. And regardless of how you work, you'll likely also want a floor lamp for task lighting.
5. The "Good Light Matters" Office
"Thanks to the board meeting being brought home these days, we could all use some better lighting. And a background that isn't faux," commented Leigh Spicher. "Today, we're designing modern home offices with natural light to usher in our best view to share with others."
The best spot for this home office layout idea might depend on where you have the best lighting and view in your home. That might mean creating a small home office in the dining room or setting up shop in a convenient corner of your living room or bedroom. If you place a window directly behind your desk, semi-sheer curtains will help reduce the glare and add soft lines.
If you don't have a spot with good natural lighting and a view, you can still create something aesthetically-pleasing. For example, you could create a gallery wall behind your desk in a small home office and use a bright table lamp to add a layer of lighting to keep things bright.
6. The "Sunday Morning" Office
Not everyone wants a divider in their shared office — couples, business partners, and parents with homeschooled children can benefit from multiple desks in the office.
"We love to create space for reading or even a good old-fashioned crossword," commented Leigh Spicher. "We're creating offices for relaxing as much as productivity these days."
Here are a few options for including two desks in one home office:
Face-to-face desks: This can create a dining table-style work area with more of a focus on ergonomics. You'll typically work facing each other with this setup.
One large L-shaped desk: One large L-shaped desk can seat one person on each side in a perpendicular arrangement. This desk can sit in a corner or the center of the room.
Two L-shaped desks: You can place two L-shaped desks together, creating a U-shape with a spacious working area for each person. With this arrangement, you can either sit side-by-side or back-to-back.
One large U-shaped desk: A large U-shaped desk has enough room for two people to work back-to-back. It can sit facing a wall or in the center of the room.
Two U-shaped desks: Two U-shaped desks, either touching or on opposite sides of the room, work well for those who need to spread out but still want to share a space.
For many couples and business partners, the face-to-face setup, like we see in this cozy office, will be the most relaxing and practical. But each configuration offers different levels of privacy and shared space, so explore your options to find the perfect home office layout idea.
7. The "Made for Meetings" Office
If the primary purpose of your office is video meetings, you'll want to think about the background you'll be sitting in front of. Position your desk in the best spot for natural lighting (if you don't have great natural lighting, look at other lighting options) and create a background you'll love for your calls.
This might inspire a DIY project to fix up a favorite spot in your home, or you might already have the perfect background in mind. For example, this beautiful office combined two existing elements into the ideal place for meetings.
"This bookshelf existed in the client's home already, so we reinforced the shelves, added new stone hardware knobs, and painted everything in a rich deep gray. We later found a rainbow of books in the basement that we used in color blocks to add a pop of color to this otherwise monochromatic space," explained Jennifer Walter, founder and interior designer at Folding Chair Co.
8. The "Work-Life Balance" Office
If you don't have room for a full home office, you can combine it with your living room. This idea also offers an excellent work-life balance option for parents who need to keep an eye on their children while they work.
Find an empty wall near the sofa and chairs in your living room and carve out a productivity zone. A desk lamp can serve as simple task lighting for your workspace. And you can likely find a spot by your desk for some cabinetry if needed — if not, try installing a few shelves above or around your desk!
This office style largely depends on your home and living room layout, so be creative with your home decor ideas until you find the perfect fit. Placing the desk slightly behind your sofa is usually a good option.
9. The "Within the Books" Office
If you've always dreamed of a home library, why not combine it with your home office? In large rooms, you can anchor the desk in the middle of the room and line the walls with bookcases. Yes, it'll make the room a little smaller, but it definitely has a cozy library feel.
"For maximum functionality, we added the in-home library framing the window, which also offers a storage solution for much smaller space," explained Lucy Small from State and Season Home Design & Supply. "The addition of tall greenery for atmosphere and an oversized desk made it feel perfect — a joy to be in."
Home Office Design Tips
These design tips will help you create something you love, whether you’re combining home office layout ideas or picking one and making it your own.
1. Create an Inspiring Environment
Display decor and artwork that inspires your daily work to make your office someplace you love. Maybe it's an award you won, memorabilia, an inspiration board, or a mood board of your aspirations and goals — whatever sparks your motivation.
Since you're decorating a home office, you can make it more personal than you would an on-site office. Be creative and find something that makes you feel happy.
2. Think About Sound
No one wants a loud home office, especially during calls or video meetings, so don't forget sound management. This is extra important if you'll have family (or pets) at home while you work.
"Have something that can absorb sound for all your phone calls," recommended Emily Mackie. "Rugs and rug pads can help absorb sound, and you can use acoustical wall boards (like cork boards) to help absorb sound."
In addition to sound absorption, you might enjoy a speaker setup to play your favorite songs while doing independent work.
3. Mix Up the Seating
In most offices, you'll want to have different seating configurations so you can move around during the day. For example, if there's room to put a chaise lounge, you might enjoy working lounging with your legs elevated. Another option is a daybed that converts to a guest bed. This setup creates a multifunctional space with a home office that converts to a guest room when you have company.
Adding high-quality desks, chairs, and accessories can make your space more comfortable to spend time in.
4. Don't Forget the Background
"Make sure to have an intentional background for all of your video conferencing calls," said Emily Mackie. "Maybe your background is artwork, plants, or a bunch of awards on the wall. Just make sure it's in a position where natural light can shine on your face, and something inspirational is in your background."
We've already highlighted a few different ideas for the background in the home office layout ideas above, but here are some more options:
Faux brick wall
Quirky gallery wall
Decorative room divider (good for small or shared spaces)
5. Seek Natural Lighting
Placing your desk facing away from natural lighting or something that you'll enjoy looking at can be depressing, especially during long days. And it's hard to get excited about working in an environment you don't love.
Instead, find a window with a view you love and face your desk toward that instead. Or create something that brings you joy! For example, you might take some inspiration from feng shui and add a burbling fountain, live houseplants, and Zen-style statuary.
How do you lay out an office in a living room?
Creating a home office in a living room depends on whether you want privacy or you want to be part of the rest of the room. Here are some options:
Position your desk against a wall behind the sofa, with the TV in front of the couch. Then, you can swivel your office chair to watch what's on and get a view of the whole room.
Place your desk against the back of your sofa (like a sofa table). This arrangement helps include your office in the room and will set you up facing the TV.
Set up your desk facing out the window in your living room for natural lighting and a good view. And keep a folding decorative divider handy to place behind you for video calls.
Find an out-of-the-way nook or corner and set up a semi-private station, using a folding room divider to create a miniature office space.
Where should an office be placed in a house?
Offices usually work well in guest bedrooms and bonus rooms with plenty of natural light and a nice view. This gives you privacy, beauty, and good lighting for video calls.
This isn't an option for everyone, though. You can also set your office up to share space with your primary bedroom, the living room, or the dining room. Or, if you need to get creative, you can place a home office in a spacious closet or at the end of an unused hallway.
Really, if you need a home office in your house and you don't have a separate room to devote to it, the best place for your office is where it works. Consider noise levels, interruptions, storage, view, natural lighting, and a background for video calls.
Should my home desk face the window?
Placing your desk facing a window can make your home office more enjoyable, and many people enjoy this position. After all, who can complain about gazing up from their computer to look outside? Plus, a window in front of you will help give you good lighting for video calls.
If it's a sunny window, though, you'll need curtains to filter the light — too much light can make it difficult to see your monitor. And if your eyes are particularly light-sensitive, or if you're easily distracted by the view out of your window, a desk facing your window might not be a good option.
Which direction should your desk face?
The best direction for your desk depends on the room and what you want from your home office layout. But here are some other ideas:
Feng shui: In feng shui, you'd typically face your desk towards the door to create a "commanding position" that allows you to stay aware of your surroundings and the entire room. This is also said to attract successful energy to your working area.
Vastu shastra: The system for traditional Indian architecture, known as Vastu shastra, positions the working desk facing north, northwest, or northeast for prosperity. East is a secondary option, as it's associated with growth.
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