Simple home office.

17 Home Office Ideas: How To Upgrade Your Home Office

David Collins9-minute read
PUBLISHED: March 03, 2023

If you’re like most people, everything you need to work from home is in your computer — programs, documents, an email address, etc. Find a place to sit, plug in, and you’re working.

But for maximizing productivity and a sense of professionalism, it’s best to carve out a dedicated office space in your home.

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17 Home Office Design And Decor Ideas

In just the first two decades of the 21st century, modern information technology has revolutionized the way many Americans work. Personal computers and high-speed internet now allow office workers to work, share documents and even meet with colleagues from virtually anywhere. The lockdowns in 2020 for the COVID pandemic put this trend on hyper drive.

These changes have led many to discover that they like working from home. Mainly, it saves the time and expense of commuting, allowing a little extra time to get kids to school or run an errand. But it also requires a home office, or at least a space dedicated strictly to work. We’ll discuss the many issues that arise for people who must work from home, as well as some dos and don’ts for designing an efficient and comfortable work space where they live.

1. Make The Most Of Your Space

Large open basement office space.

Some people have the luxury of an actual office space in their home — complete with a big desk, a comfortable chair, lined bookshelves and maybe even a window. If this is you, congratulations, but if you happen to share your house with a spouse or roommate, you may have to flip them for it. Others have to be more creative, and with a little imagination you can carve out an office space pretty much anywhere.

  • In the basement — Provided it’s clean and organized, a basement is quiet and removed from house activities. You may have to add supplemental lighting.
  • In the living room — A dining table gives you room to spread out, but there is little privacy if there are others at home, and kids can be a big distraction.
  • Transform a closet — Harry Potter’s closet under the stairs may be a little tight, but a walk-in closet can make a nice, sequestered office space.
  • Build a nook — A nook is basically just a small corner of a larger room that is dedicated to an activity, such as a breakfast table or, in this case, a desk and chair. A screen adds further privacy.
  • In a guest room — You have guests twice a year. You work every day. If you have an extra room this is really the best option for a home office.
  • Attic — Some homes have an unfinished space above the living quarters, or even above the garage, that can be used for an office.
  • Shed — Any outbuilding on your property, such as a shed or garage, can become a makeshift office as long as it’s not too cold outside. You may have to run electricity out to the building, but it affords lots of privacy and quiet.

2. Take Advantage Of Natural Light

Sitting in a chair in front of a computer for hours may not sound taxing, but it is, especially mentally. Light, especially natural light, is psychologically calming. If your home office has a window nearby, pull open the curtains. In warm weather, pull up the sash and let fresh air in. If you don’t have a window, invest in some lamps.

The right lighting can bolster your mood, as well as reduce eye strain. If you spend a large part of your day looking at a screen, eye strain is a real thing. A good desk lamp and/or floor lamp will help limit the stress on your eyes.

3. Have A Comfortable Desk Chair

Modern black office chair in home office.

A comfortable chair is the most important investment you can make in your home office. It’s hard to get work done if the chair you sit in hurts your back. When working at a desk, comfort affects your productivity. A lumbar-supporting, sturdy, adjustable office chair is a necessity.

If you prefer to be on your feet, which can help your posture and burn calories, a desk that can be raised and lowered is a worthwhile investment. You can even buy a “treadmill desk” that allows you to get your exercise while you work!

4. Prioritize Storage And Organization

Your home office must be a singular space. That means it should not spill out into the rest of the house, and the rest of the house should not creep in. Make a habit of putting items back where they belong. This helps you avoid forgetting where you put something and saves the time and frustration of looking for it. You can quickly get to it and keep working.

Keep your space neat. Use shelves and storage to keep everything organized. It’s always a good practice to clean up either when you leave the space or before you go to bed at night.

5. Style How You Like

Once you’ve identified the space for your home office, it helps to make it look like your office. Personalize it with photos of friends and family members or pin up a calendar with inspirational quotes. If you feel like you are in an office, you’ll have better concentration and motivation to do productive work. For inspiration, look at home office décor on Pinterest and draw from the looks you like. Tip: If you think you’ll be spending time on-screen for calls with colleagues or clients, make sure that whatever is on the wall behind you is appropriate.

6. Be Calm With Neutral Colors

Woman in home office with her dog.

The color scheme of your office should be one that gets you, personally, motivated to work. If being calm helps you focus, select neutral colors as your primary scheme. White or off-white creates a mood of cleanliness and spaciousness that lends itself to productive work. Neutral colors also play well with others — a richly colored abstract painting really pops when it hangs on a cream-colored wall. How colors work with our psychology is fascinating, so take the time to research the importance of choosing a color pallet.

7. Go Bold With Color

Some people draw energy and motivation from bold, primary colors like blue, red and green. Research maximalist design trends and see if this concept resonates with you. Some bold colors work very well with other colors but clash badly with others. Think about establishing one dominant color. If you paint the walls blue, for instance, a yellow vase and green plants will blend harmoniously with the dominant blue.

8. Use Built-In Bookcases And Shelves

Home Office with built in bookshelves.

Purpose-built home offices typically feature one wall dedicated to a custom built-in bookshelf. It’s meant to keep reference books, documents and supplies at the ready during your workday. A lawyer, for instance, needs to have dozens of law books on hand for working on cases.

Yes, you can buy free-standing bookcase at a furniture store. But if you have the budget, you can’t beat the quality and permanence of a customized shelving system built by a local carpenter exactly to your needs. And as a permanent addition, it adds value to your home.

9. Make A Statement With Rugs

Small, blue painted home office with square rug under desk.

A rug is another way to bring instant color to a home office. If your office is part of a larger room, a rug helps to define that cordoned-off space even further. A rug also softens and warms up a room with a bare floor, such as a basement or attic. It’s always nice to have a plush, expensive rug, but if your budget is tight, you can find inexpensive area rugs of many sizes at a local big box store or carpet showroom.

10. Create A Gallery Wall

White wall with hanging art.

If you’re the creative type and want to really turn your home office into a fun expression of your life and personality, consider dedicating one wall of your office to a gallery art wall. This project can go off in literally any direction — from dramatic and thematic to random and macabre. The only limit is your imagination and your ability to hang multiple shapes and sizes of artwork to your wall.

11. Paint An Accent Wall

An accent wall is one that stands out from the other walls in a room. If the other walls are painted in a neutral color, for instance, the accent wall will really pop if it’s painted orange or candy-apple red. An accent wall works best if it boldly stands out. The key is to give the room some depth and character.

12. Put Up Patterned Wallpaper

Another way to visually break up a room is with wallpaper. This, too, can be limited to one wall, but it can be more. Whatever your preconceived notions of wallpaper may be, they are probably wrong — wallpaper design is very sophisticated today and there are limitless options.

13. Switch To Curtains

White minimalist home office with curtains over the window.

Assuming you have a window, curtains are another way to add color and texture to your home office. As opposed to blinds, which can be sterile, curtains exude hominess and warmth. A sheer curtain can do this and still allow natural light into the room.

14. Use Plants And Greenery

Nothing livens up a space like living things. Consider adding houseplants and hanging plants to your home office. Green is a soothing color, and plants make a great background for online meetings. Not a green thumb? There are fake plants now that are almost indiscernible from real plants.

15. Mix Materials

Another design trick for giving your home office a feeling of warmth and personality is having a mix of materials. For a neutral modern desk surface, select a comfortable wood chair (add a seat cushion, of course). Add a small brass sculpture to your desktop. You can even burn a scented candle — just remember to blow it out when you’re done working.

16. Opt For A Unique Desk

Woman working with a purple colored standing desk.
  • Standing desk — People with back problems sometimes prefer to stand while working; or, there are desks that raise and lower so you can alternate sitting and standing
  • Drop-down writing desk — An old antique piece called a Secretary features a door that folds down to become a writing surface; there are also desks that mount on a wall and fold down, which is helpful for tight spaces such as a studio apartment
  • Leaning or ladder desk — Usually a freestanding structure that includes a desktop and bookshelves

17. Consider Feng Shui

If you were to ask, “Where should a desk be placed in a home office?” someone might answer “It’s all about Feng Shui.” Feng Shui is as simple or as complex as you want to make it, but it basically means the arrangement of objects in a space to achieve harmony and balance. Even if you’re not an expert, you can move things around until they make sense to you. Presto. Feng Shui.

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Home Office Remodel FAQs

Here are some common questions people ask when setting up a home office.

How can I make my home office look good?

Mostly it requires creativity, perhaps a little research, some labor and the ability to experiment and be patient. It may require painting, mounting artwork or hanging wallpaper. If your office is part of a larger room that is used by the whole house, find a way to cordon off your space with a screen, a rug and a separate light source such as a lamp. Move things around, add, subtract until it begins to take shape. Above all, keep it separate and solely dedicated to your work. This will help you focus when you are in your workspace.

What should I put in my home office?

At the very least, you’ll need a desk/table and a chair. Ideally you will have some shelving for storing documents and reference materials. You may need a printer and a router for internet. If you will be meeting with clients or colleagues, they will need a chair as well. But to make your office an inviting place where you can spend hours per day, use some of the design ideas discussed above and personalize your space.

How much does it cost to redesign an office?

It depends on how ambitious your plan is, but it should not cost a lot to redesign your home office. A deciding factor is if you are going to be meeting with clients regularly in your home office. If this is the case, a larger investment is probably in order. If you’re handy enough to do certain tasks yourself — such as painting, hanging pictures or putting up wallpaper — you can save having to hire a contractor. A workable desk can be found in a second-hand store, while a top-end electric standing desk can cost around $3,000. Personalizing with family photos and little desktop curios is cheap and effective.

How do I modernize my home office?

If by modern we mean an office that is fully functional in 2023, the number one thing you’ll need is clear access to high-speed internet. Call your provider and see what their best product is and see if it fits your budget to add it. Other things to consider investing in are a modern desk, an ergonomic and adjustable chair and a large desktop monitor.

How can I make my home office cozier?

The overriding principle in adding coziness to your office is softening the space with lots of different textures, such as rugs, curtains, plants and artwork. Try for a warm light source rather than the white light you might find in a doctor’s office. Natural light, and even better sunlight, is best of all. Sheer curtains add texture while allowing natural light in. Plants bring an organic presence.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re planning to invest thousands or get by on creativity, personality and a few trips to a thrift store, you can design a home office that sets you at ease and allows you to focus on your work. If your home office is a place where you regularly meet with clients, you might consider hiring a designer and making a more significant investment. If assets are in short supply, consider borrowing from yourself and get started on the cash-out refinance approval process today.

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

David Collins

David Collins is a staff writer for Rocket Auto, Rocket Solar, and Rocket Homes. He has experience in communications for the automotive industry, reference publishing, and food and wine. He has a degree in English from the University of Michigan.