In the span of one week, the home office went from an underused (or non-existent) space to the most coveted room for anyone working from home. Those lucky enough to have an office finally completed that long-overdue makeover, and those without one turned to makeshift solutions like drop-down desks, laptop trays, and “cloffices” (as in, a closet-slash-office).
No matter your setup, chances are you’re looking to spruce up your workspace—or finally cave and create one—as we enter stage 5,347 of quarantine. Because if this experience has taught us anything, it’s the importance of having a dedicated and calming WFH space that doesn’t involve a mattress.
Considering that designing anything always looks 10x easier on Instagram, we tapped designers and home bloggers for their practical advice. Whether you’re plotting a full-scale office reno or just want to add a vase to your desk, there’s a takeaway for everyone. Below, find their thoughts on home office design, how to make the most of a small footprint, and the importance of having a dedicated workspace in the age of Covid-19.
Interior Designer Leanne Ford
Anyone who follows designer Leanne Ford knows that she’s single-handedly perfected the modern “lived-in” look. Her home office is exhibit A: it features a wood-trimmed chalkboard, antique dresser, and an exposed ceiling all encased in tonal whites. But despite this carefully-curated aesthetic, location is what makes all the difference to Ford.
“I suggest finding a work space that’s almost hidden — you should not work from your kitchen table unless absolutely necessary!” she tells Glamour. “Doing so helps create the work-life separation that we desperately need right now.” To Ford, being able to shut the door (or at least draw a curtain) recreates the experience of going to work and leaving it. She suggests hanging a curtain in a small space or open floor plan to create those boundaries, or transforming an unused guest room into a proper office in a larger home. “Put your desk in a closet if you have to!” she adds.
Aesthetically speaking, she recommends investing in a comfy office chair, a few antiques, and a luxe candle (she loves Le Labo’s Santal 26). “Pare things back if you prefer a place of zen, and add a collage wall or chalkboard if you need a place to feel creative,” she suggests. As for layout, she prefers a power move: “Put your desk in the middle of the room facing the door, so when someone walks in, you can make eye contact,” she shares. “Think like a boss!”
Santal 26 Candle
$75.00, Le Labo Fragrances
Fields Cane Back Charcoal Accent Chair
$999.00, Crate & Barrel
$10.00, Sunday Shop
Stylist, Designer & Art Director Juliette Wanty
Minimalism sits at the heart of stylist and art director Juliette Wanty‘s carefully-honed design philosophy. “It’s important to create a quiet, orderly space where you feel comfortable and relaxed,” she says of home office design. “Your workspace should minimize distractions and provide inspiration.”
True to form, she recommends a pared-back setup consisting of a comfortable chair, office supplies, and a few functional but beautiful pieces like a pleated table lamp and inspiring wall art. “Your work space should reflect your personal style and feel like an aesthetic extension of your home,” she says.
Healthy separation is also paramount in Wanty’s book. “If you don’t have a dedicated home office, you can still find subtle ways to close off your workspace from the rest of your home, so you don’t see your work when you’re off-duty,” she says. “A built-in desk or cabinet that you can close when you log off is perfect for a small space!”
Inga Sempé Matin Table Lamp
Face 2 Art Print by Justina Blakeney
Lenox Swivel Office Chair
$349.00, West Elm
Soapstone Roll Vessel
Writer & Content Creator Yaminah Mayo
Yaminah Mayo‘s workspace is proof that you can design a functional home office in the middle of your living room. “My setup is super simple — it consists of a desk, chair, and a wall of books and post cards I’ve collected from the Studio Museum in Harlem — but I actually want to spend time here,” she shares.
The New York-based writer and content creator has been working from her apartment for years, so she’s somewhat of a WFH pro. “My workspace has trained me to compartmentalize my small apartment and keep work in a designated area,” she shares. “I’m certainly more focused when I’m at my desk than sitting on my couch.”
While Mayo’s home office design unfolded organically over the years, she suggests catering to your individual needs and style. “I’m very easily distracted, so while my setup is colorful, it’s also very simple,” she explains. She also cautions against leaning too heavily into trends. “Focus on what you like and how you want to feel while in the space — don’t get caught up in what’s ‘cool’ or ‘trendy.’”
Slowdown Studio 2021 Calendar
Poppin 3-Drawer Filing Cabinet
$212.00, Container Store
Ridpath Dining Chair
Invisible Wall Shelf
$12.00, Urban Outfitters
Design Blogger Erin Hiemstra
Erin Hiemstra’s cozy home office is a lesson in functional and stylish small-space design. The creative behind Apartment 34 transformed a snug 10×10 accessory dwelling unit in her backyard into her dream home office when the pandemic hit. “We added the ADU to our yard months before quarantine, and I’m so thankful we did!” she shares. “I couldn’t wait to create an elevated escape, especially as the rest of the house devolved into chaos — it’s not easy to get work done with a Kindergartener.”
She worked with California Closets to create a custom built-in desk that optimized the limited floor space, and had room leftover for a meditation corner. She went with grey herringbone floors from Cle Tile, a soft Roman Clay treatment on the walls for a texturized, plaster-like finish, and a dark, moody color palette for a modern and minimal look. “I breathe a sigh of gratitude every time I step in here,” she adds. “I love that I can display my favorite treasures, and my husband is happy that my magazine collection is out of the house.”
To recreate the look at home, Hiemstra swears by three design tips: select a spot with great natural light to improve focus, invest in a comfortable chair, and carve out space for pieces that inspire you. “It can be a gorgeous desk lamp, a plant, artwork, a mood board — just something that makes you smile.”
Cleo Chair by Stine Aas
Eric Bonnin Ceramic Mug Set
$128.00, Spartan Shop
2021 Desk Calendar
Catch Charging Tray
$175.00, Stay Courant
Interior Designer Shea McGee
Interior designer Shea McGee is all about function when designing a space — especially something as utilitarian as a home office. “I always start by asking myself, ‘How can I make this space as functional as possible?” In her book, a comfortable chair, spacious desk, plenty of storage, and some degree of separation from the rest of your home are the building blocks of a successful home office.
“Having a designated office or desk is important so that on some level, you can still ‘leave work’ at the end of the day,” she notes. If you’re working with a multi-use space like a kitchen table or closet, she recommends investing in a comfy chair and adding luxe touches like a candle or flowers to make the space feel intentional.
As for home office design, McGee always aims to create an organized, relaxing atmosphere that’s conducive to productivity. In her husband Syd’s home office, for example, she went with a coat of calming navy paint, plenty of built-in storage, and personal touches like artwork, books, and greenery.
Benji Writing Desk
$2100.00, McGee & Co
Jo Malone London Fresh Fig & Cassis Scented Candle
$600.00, McGee & Co
Glass & Leather Vase
Design Blogger Jessica D’Itri Marés
Months to years of planning went into Jessica D’Itri Marés‘ large home office — a multi-functional space that used to be her and her husband’s master bedroom. “It’s located right off the entry, so it made more sense to use it as a workspace,” she explains. “It currently functions as a miscellaneous room for work, music, crafts, school work, and gaming.”
The space — which features a floor-to-ceiling built-in that Marés refers to as #megadesk — has been 10 years in the making. “That’s when I went full-time freelance and needed a dedicated home office,” she shares. “I wanted to create a space that felt calm, timeless, and of course, functional.” For the design blogger and content creator, that meant one thing: storage. “My work requires a lot of equipment and samples, so we built a large storage system using IKEA cabinets and Semihandmade fronts,” she explains. “It currently stores my printer, camera, samples, arts and crafts supplies, kids’ school supplies, and even pull-out trash and recycling.”
The built-in actually mirrors Mares’ entire approach to interior design. “It’s so important to design around your unique needs,” she adds. “What do you do for a living? What does a typical work week entail? Does your work require a lot of Zoom meetings? The answers to these questions will help you design a space that makes work as enjoyable, productive, and efficient as possible.”
Sumaru Hand-Knotted Rug
Sagen Round Glass Vase
Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Wire Storage Basket
Originally Appeared on Glamour