9 Savvy Ideas for a Smart Small Home Office

Enjoying an ocean breeze from your spacious, sunny, soundproofed home office at the luxury beach villa? Fabulous, dahling. This post is for the rest of us. Because working productively from home can be tricky if you’re short on space, organization, or privacy. These mindful ideas for a smart small home office aim to inspire and empower with work-from-home design wisdom. (You’ll also spy savvy resources from Quill for products and expert help).

Psst…I partnered with Quill.com to bring you these ideas, yet all opinions here are my own.

9 Savvy Ideas for a Smart Small Home Office

Small Workspace Planning Ideas

Idea No. 1: Know Thyself!

To make wise decisions about your home office’s form and function, self-awareness is key. We all have different needs, and only you truly understand yours. Hence, let go of any preconceived notions of how a home office should look.

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom - Aristotle quote.
PIN me…design inspiration and also WFH wisdom to set you up for success.

For example, my own small and mindfully created workspace could be a terrible fit for someone else. As a creative writer, a view of nature outside keeps me in optimal headspace. In terms of organization, I prefer open bins to file cabinets. The color palette? Zen-like (since energizing and bold color would hinder my focus).

However, you might struggle to stay awake with such tranquil color choices!

Home office with chic grey upholstered desk chair with antique desk in our French country bedroom - Hello Lovely.
Hello Lovely Studio…in case you need inspiration for a smart small home office!

No. 2: Determine Your Optimal Workspace

How much space will you require? Have a slew of documents or tools to spread out? Maybe a dining room makes sense. Need more than one desk? A closet probably isn’t ideal. Rely on just a single laptop? A small bedside desk holds promise.

Where will you feel productive? Is quiet focus critical? Will you meet with clients or offer services? Spare bedrooms, closets, quiet corners, stair landings, and even outbuildings are possibilities. Underutilized space in a hall, nook, foyer, or pantry may also work.

Will there be adequate separation? It’s a bonus if you can step away and forget about work! Is the space removed from noise, pets, and people?

Beautiful home office with open shelves and neutral decor - Sherry Hart Interiors. Paint color is BM Iron Mountain. #paintcolors #ironmountain #homeoffices
Design: Sherry Hart of Design Indulgence…hello lovely, smart small home office! (Pssst…paint color is BM Iron Mountain.)

No. 3: Structure Your Space

Need to create privacy? Sometimes a screen or bookcase provides the right bit of separation to define a workspace.

Corner desks. If your workspace resides in a larger living space, then consider a corner desk. They often bring cozy factor to a dim corner.

Be mindful about the view. Position furniture for a view that won’t distract. If your view is a blank wall, the decorating tips below may also help.

Create a “cloffice.” Closets can live large as offices, and doors can be shut to keep work out of sight. Even small closets offer vertical space for shelves, bulletin boards, hooks, cabinets and supplies. You’ll likely need a power strip to run from a nearby outlet. Personalize the nook with peel and stick wallpaper, paint, and even hanging plants.

Beautiful spare cloffice home office in closet - Flynn Haus. #homeoffices #cloffice
Design: Flynnhaus…in case breezy and minimal are your jam.

Score Essentials for a Small Workspace

No. 4: Home Office Furniture

Smart space savers. Innovative desk options are plentiful with the increased demand for home offices. Murphy style, floating, and wall-mounted convertible desks prevent work surfaces from taking over your home’s square footage.

Floating desk (Prepac) mounts to wall and has storage - perfect for small spaces and working from home. #floatingdesk #murphydesk #homeofficefurniture
This is a Prepac floating desk – find floating desk options at Quill HERE

If your small apartment lacks devoted dining space, the right desk can even be pulled into service as a dining table.

Here’s one that caught my eye:

Method 60W Home office desk by Kathy Ireland for Bush Furniture at Quill. #moderndesk #homeofficefurniture
 Office by kathy ireland® Method 60W Table Desk, Cocoa (KI70101K), Quill.com…in case you need a sleek desk for your home office.

Desks that feel natural in a space. If you work from a small laptop, a smaller scale secretary style desk or writing desk may function well next to a bed or in a living space. Modern and minimal styles like this industrial one keep the look airy and light.

Industrial style wood and iron desk for home office - kathy ireland and Bush Furniture at Quill. #officedesks #industrialfarmhousestyle
Bush Furniture Refinery 50W Industrial Desk, Rustic Gray, Quill.com…in case rustic style suits you.

Simple Cloffice Desk Hack. For an affordable custom desk in a closet, a laminate countertop typically used for kitchens and laundry rooms may do the trick. Wood supports on the wall at either end of the closet can support the surface.

Beautiful cloffice home office with wallpaper, shelf, and upholstered chair - @stac.2me #cloffice #homeoffice
Design: @stac.2me…cozy lighting, plants, and layered decor certainly cozy up a cloffice.

No. 5: Lighting

Prioritize illumination. Insufficient light is a headache. Southeast or easterly exposures are preferable for a home office, and make sure lighting is flattering for visual conferencing.

Task lighting. Look for adjustable lamp heads and arms to direct light where you’ll need it. Desk lamps with bases that function as wireless charging stations are perfect for home offices.

Ambient light. Don’t underestimate the power of a floor lamp even in a small space! They work magic in dark corners and can also boost mood with a comforting glow.

Home office with multiple work areas and white cabinetry - Cindy Hattersley. #homeoffice
Design: Cindy Hattersley…in case your smart small home office demands space for two.

No. 6: Organization & Function

Corral the clutter. If you’re not sure of your organization style, The Clutter Connection (Mango, 2019) by Cassandra Aarssen may help. If you find you cannot maintain organization, you’re probably not implementing the proper systems for your personality type.

Contain chaos beautifully. Choose containers made from natural materials such as rattan, bamboo, or stone. Avoid plastic. Simple clear glass jars keep a small space feeling airy with supplies fully visible.

Manage unruly cords. A cable management box with a power strip inside keeps cords and cables tidy.

Beautiful barn door at cloffice home office - @thecolorofourhome. #homeoffices #cloffice
Design: @thecolorofourhome…in case your closet is ripe for a makeover.

No. 7: Tools & Technology

Scan if you can. Unless hard copies are essential, consider a scanner for digital copies. A wireless printer also keeps things visually calm.

Noise pollution. Resolve noise issues for better concentration and professionalism. In addition to noise-canceling headphones, sound-deadening panels or carpet to absorb sound may help. Upgrade a hollow-core door to a solid one. Paint walls with special sound-proofing paint. To mask annoying sounds, consider a white noise machine.

Home office in a traditional interior with moody bronze painted walls - Sherry Hart.
Design: Design Indulgence…a natural fiber rug absorbs sound and also adds texture.

Mindful Decorating Tips

No. 8: Home Office Aesthetics

Mindful decorating. Are you the friend without bougie taste? Not a problem. The décor should (1) feel unfussy and (2) increase well-being. Color, art, and accessory ideas follow.

Zen quote for mindfulness, peace, and greater awareness on Hello Lovely Studio. #zenquotes #mindfulnessquotes

Neuroaesthetics. Neuroscience research confirms it…viewing art promotes health, wellness, and also stress-relief (2019 study in Experimental Biology and Medicine). Therefore, it makes sense to add artful touches.

Beautiful art actually affects brain function. A study by Tomohiro Ishizu and Semir Zeki found that for subjects who viewed art they deemed beautiful, blood flow increased by as much as 10% in a certain part of their brains.

Indigo Blue Paint Colors - Hello Lovely Studio. #bestbluepaintcolors #indigoblue #paintcolors
PIN me…in case a tranquil blue paint color for your home office is calling.

Choose colors intentionally. A 2016 study in Environment-Behaviour Proceedings Journal concluded green and blue are perceived to be the most relaxing colors in work settings.

Yellow and purple can be highly distracting for many people. Calm neutrals work well for creative types.

Small home office with reclaimed skateboard desk and serene art on wall - @carla_neidigh
Design: @carla_neidgh…a floating desk occupies minimal space and also feels artfully modern.

No. 9: Plants, please.

Biophilic design. 9,000 trees were incorporated into the design at Apple’s Silicon Valley campus for good reason. Plants increase feelings of well-being and heighten productivity. Living with plants can improve memory and imparts a sense of fresh air.

No wonder Amazon’s Seattle headquarters contains “spheres” of more than 40,000 plants from around the world.

Funny quote with humor on Hello Lovely Studio.

Greenery and attention. A 2008 University of Michigan study concluded natural environments may help to replenish our capacity for attention and focus.

A peaceful view of nature may yield a big payoff for concentration.

Before and after home office makeover - Sherry Hart. Paint color is Benjamin Moore Iron Mountain. #ironmountain #paintcolors #blackpaintcolors
Design: Design Indulgence…in case you need proof paint and shelves can transform an office.

Décor accents beyond plants. Keep soft textures in mind since they dampen sound. Consider botanical prints or artwork with natural, organic motifs. If space is limited for art, paint an accent wall an earthy green such as Benjamin Moore Flora.

9 earthy green paint colors from Benjamin Moore to consider - Hello Lovely. #greenpaint #paintcolors #earthygreen
If earthy green paint colors speak to you, pin this too!

I hope these tips increase your confidence about improving your workspace at home!

If you don’t have a Pinterest board devoted to home office ideas, it’s also a savvy way to organize your plans! Also, PIN THIS POST for future reference.

Many thanks to QUILL for the invitation to mindfully explore an essential interior for the 2020s: the home office!

Peace to you right where you are.

-michele

p.s. Bonus tip: keep that sense of humor firmly intact! Work from home fails happen to all of us…remember silly home office memes shared here?

Subscribe to Hello Lovely!

References

The Clutter Connection: How Your Personality Type Determines Why You Organize the Way You Do (Cassandra Aarssen, 2019).

Experimental Biology and Medicine (October 21, 2019), Megan E. Beerse, Theresa Van Lith, Scott M. Pickett.

“The Effects of Colour in Work Environment: A systematic review” (July 2016); Nattha Savavibool, Environment-Behaviours Proceedings Journal.

“Toward a Brain-Based Theory of Beauty” (July 6, 2011); Tomohiro Ishizu, Semir Zeki.

“The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature” (December 1, 2008); Marc G. Berman, John Jonides, Stephen Kaplan, Association for Psychological Science.

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38 Comments

  1. March 31, 2022 / 11:27 am

    Hi Michele

    I am honored to be included in your roundup. If only you could see my office now! It is the kitchen table!

    • Michele
      Author
      March 31, 2022 / 1:56 pm

      I am happy to stop over and confirm that, Cindy. Pretty sure your home office situation trumps mine – living in chaos at the moment, friend! Thank you for inspiring us and visiting today! xox

    • Michele
      Author
      March 31, 2022 / 1:53 pm

      Your workspace is so inspiring, Mary Ann! What I wouldn’t give for those views and the sunshine! Thanks for inspiring us every single day. πŸ™‚

  2. Nancy Mead
    March 31, 2022 / 2:00 pm

    Needing a redo of my office. It’s Spring and you need new things when the sunshine and warmth comes out. This is very inspiring.

    • Michele
      Author
      March 31, 2022 / 2:04 pm

      Thanks for taking a peek at this inspiration, Nancy! Maybe we can brainstorm some ideas for that office together! xox

  3. Denise Vander Wall
    March 31, 2022 / 2:40 pm

    Amazing ideas for anyone who works from home. Also great ideas for places for your kiddos to do their homework. Inspiring Spring office makeovers.

    • Michele
      Author
      March 31, 2022 / 3:27 pm

      Thanks so much for taking a peek at these ideas, Denise. That point you’re making about places for homework is a great nudge for me – I need to create a post about that specific topic because I bet a ton of parents need inspiration. Thank you!

  4. Jojo
    March 31, 2022 / 4:25 pm

    I love your ideas. It made me think about where I work and how it affects my motivation. I didn’t know Quill had such modern furniture options! Thanks for giving me inspiration to update my space!!!

    • Michele
      Author
      March 31, 2022 / 5:08 pm

      I’m really aware of that motivation-home office environment connection right now since at the new place, my space is not complete and is still so awkward. Thanks for reading these ideas and taking the time to comment. xox

  5. Linda C.
    March 31, 2022 / 5:27 pm

    Our home office is outdated. It’s not as bad as the β€œbefore” picture above though! I love the rich wall colors and shelf ideas in your post. If only my hubby would give up that dinosaur desk!

    • Michele
      Author
      March 31, 2022 / 5:56 pm

      Hahahaha – it’s hard to give up pieces that have served us well for so long, isn’t it? I’m struggling with such things myself these days since stuff we have used for years isn’t the right style or scale for the new place. My best advice if you’re really craving a refresh of a space: empty it of everything you can, clean like royalty is coming to visit, and then stare at it and carefully decide what gets to return to the room. πŸ™‚

      • Linda dickey
        April 1, 2022 / 7:35 am

        Perfect advice. A designer friend told me many years ago β€œyou have many beautiful things. You just don’t need to have them all out at the same time!”

        • Michele
          Author
          April 1, 2022 / 9:50 am

          That IS really wise. I think we still struggle since the idea of storing a bunch of stuff has a cost too. “Stuff” seems to have energy and can drain us even when it is out of sight! At least that is how my husband and I experience it. We were not ready to part with a bunch of stuff this move but are toying with the idea of never moving it again. In other words, when we sell this house, it’ll be sold with everything in it. We’ll see if that idea sticks!

  6. March 31, 2022 / 8:40 pm

    Thanks for this. How do you get the sound deadening panels? I need this for when I’m on video conference calls.

    • Michele
      Author
      March 31, 2022 / 11:02 pm

      Such a great question. I am thinking it may still be a custom thing for commercial purposes that will become more available residentially soon – there’s definitely a void in the marketplace. I do know there is sound deadening paint (yep!), and some folks opt for exterior doors for interior rooms because that helps. Thanks for adding to the discussion, Crystal. πŸ™‚

  7. Amber Myers
    March 31, 2022 / 9:12 pm

    I love these ideas. I wish we had room for a home office. I’d love one!

    • Michele
      Author
      March 31, 2022 / 10:59 pm

      Thanks so much for taking these ideas for a spin. “Home office” can be working at a little bedside table with a lamp you love so don’t rule anything out. πŸ™‚

  8. April 1, 2022 / 5:57 am

    Some truly lovely options! I love, love, love, the Benjamin Moore Flora colors! Right up my ally 😊. Visiting from the TFT, and glad I found you!

    • Michele
      Author
      April 1, 2022 / 9:51 am

      Yayyyyyy! So glad you found me so I could find you too, Suzan. Happy you found inspiration with the colors too! πŸ™‚ Happy weekend.

  9. April 1, 2022 / 6:05 am

    Lovely ideas Michele and so many options to consider! My studio is also my home office, and it’s next on my list for some updates!

    • Michele
      Author
      April 1, 2022 / 9:50 am

      Thanks for peeking at these ideas, Michelle. I can only imagine how beautiful your studio will become! πŸ™‚ Happy weekend, friend.

  10. Joan
    April 1, 2022 / 10:02 am

    I love the wall color of the room by Design Indulgence. Any ideas would be appreciated.

    • Michele
      Author
      April 1, 2022 / 10:48 am

      Oooooh – I need to add that to the caption! It’s Benjamin Moore Iron Mountain, and I love it too! Sherry Hart is the designer and has the best eye!

  11. Sharon
    April 1, 2022 / 5:38 pm

    I love my home office space but it really needs an update with a few pops of color. this is enough inspiration to get me motivated.

    • Michele
      Author
      April 1, 2022 / 5:47 pm

      I’m so glad! Thanks for considering these tips and inspo! πŸ™‚ Have a lovely weekend.

  12. Tisha
    April 1, 2022 / 6:12 pm

    I’m obsessed with all of these little office spaces! I may have to turn my closet into a little office space

    • Michele
      Author
      April 1, 2022 / 7:15 pm

      Hahaha – if you do, send photos! I can’t get enough cloffice inspo either! πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading.

  13. Helen Little
    April 2, 2022 / 3:50 am

    Such beautiful options and great tips for reining in the clutter!

    • Michele
      Author
      April 2, 2022 / 8:21 pm

      Thanks so much for taking a peek and for the kind words, Helen. πŸ™‚

  14. Lisa
    April 2, 2022 / 12:56 pm

    The little office spaces make me want to go back to work so I can create one!! Fabulous ideas.

    • Michele
      Author
      April 2, 2022 / 8:18 pm

      Aren’t they sweet? They make good study spaces too. We actually have a closet here at the new place that is perfect for a cloffice – a little wallpaper, some shelves, and boom. πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading, Lis.

  15. E E Deere
    April 2, 2022 / 2:36 pm

    This is such a useful article, thank you. I knew about strategies for too much sound like rugs, lining curtains, and cork applied to underside of tables, but I did not know about sound deadening panels. Do you have suggestions about where to look for panels like that? Thanks.

    • Michele
      Author
      April 2, 2022 / 8:16 pm

      I need to research the topic further and will circle back with what I find. Thanks so much for reading. πŸ™‚

  16. April 5, 2022 / 9:41 am

    Hey girl….what a great post! I now want to start over in my office but dang it was a lot of work:) Of course as I look around it is quite a mess and looks nothing like the pictures anymore….so maybe if I clean it up I will be OK with it again! xoxo Sherry

    • Michele
      Author
      April 5, 2022 / 5:01 pm

      I hope you share the update if you change it since we know it will be incredible! Thanks so much for being a part of this post, Sherry. I bow to you! πŸ™‚

  17. Kathysue
    May 25, 2022 / 7:40 pm

    Hi Michelle. I pinned a few pictures to Pinterest. That floating desk is a great idea. Such a thorough and informative post. Thank you for the info and great examples.

    • Michele
      Author
      May 26, 2022 / 4:57 pm

      Thanks so much for reading this, Kathy. I need to catch up with your renovations as I know you’ve been busy making things lovely! Let me know when you’re ready for a guest post as my readers will love it!

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