5 home office ideas to level up your WFH workspace

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Buyer's Guide Home Office Pink Chair With Light on DeskPhotography: Dave Wheeler

In years gone by, you might have gotten away with perching a laptop on the dining table. These days, that’s not going to cut it. With many of us working from home for much of the week, our home office ideas need to be a little more long-term and a lot more versatile.

We spend multiple days a week here, with Teams calls on and keyboards tapping, so if you haven’t committed to a forever solution to your home office design, now’s the time.

Whether you have a dedicated room or a desk nook, you’re not alone in wanting to upgrade your workspace to be as premium and professional as possible. “We’ve witnessed growth in this category at Freedom,” says Michelle Klopper, head of furniture at Freedom. “With working from home becoming increasingly popular, focus is now on creating thoughtfully planned home office spaces.”

We’ve got all the tips to make your home office design feel better.

How do you lay out a home office?

When mapping out your office design ideas, think about who will use it and how? If you’re a journalist, you might need shelves for magazines. Or perhaps you’re a parent who needs an area for toys to keep younger children occupied while you get things done. It’s really about foreseeing how you’ll work and planning a home office design to make your days run smoothly.

How do I build a home office with no space?

If you live somewhere compact, small home office ideas are essential. Floating desks built into bedrooms, living rooms and even kitchens are increasingly popular. A home office nook under a staircases or behind pocket doors is another way to get around space issues. Designers are now incredibly adept at squeezing highly-functional workspaces in, whatever the floor plan. With a little creativity and the right home office decor, it can be done with style.

Here are some home office ideas for a more enjoyable workspace.

1. Make it multifunctional

“The current trend is for multi-purpose use. Versatility is key!” says interior designer and director at The Unlisted Collective, Bianca Fraser. Many of us want to create a space that everyone in the household can use for work, study and homework.

If you have plenty of room, you could have several desks. If you’d like a seamless solution, bespoke could be the way. “Custom joinery is often requested, which can be personalised to suit the people using the room and the space available,” says Bianca.

Think outside the cubicle and have fun with pieces that don’t fit the traditional aesthetic. “We had Merci Maison’s ‘Ce’cile’ stool, custom made into a desk chair for a recent project,” says Bianca. Other go-tos for the Sydney-based designer are the Baxter ‘Parsec’ desk from Space, a beautiful Rachel Donath vase, a Cire Trudon candle and fresh flowers from Bess Paddington.

Introduce art to jump-start your creativity. “It’s important to think about how your art selection integrates with your brand and how you want to be presented on screen in meetings,” says Bianca.

Buyer's Guide Home Office Navy and White with Armchair
This space by Studio Trio has multiple desk spaces, an armchair for reading and plenty of storage. (Photography: Maree Homer / Styling: Kayla Gex)

2. Avoid the corporate look

Boring black is out, fun furniture is in. “Style must meet function, however there’s a distinct shift away from corporate aesthetics,” says Michelle from Freedom. She shares that there’s a pivot towards office chairs with the luxurious look of leather, the textural appeal of boucle, calming tones and cocooning curves.

While they need to look great, Michelle adds that good ergonomics remain top of the priority list. “A comfortable and chic office chair means you’ll be happier when hitting deadlines.” There’s also a demand for products that reduce our environmental impact, such as Officeworks’ ‘Otto Kronborg’ chair, which is made using recycled materials.

As for desks, it’s all about going the extra mile in style and functionality. “Our home office assortment continues to evolve in line with this demand,” says Michelle. This means there are now loads of solutions for out-of-the-box office spaces like the Freedom ‘Scala’ leaning desk, which uses vertical space.

If you’re the type who likes to stand while working, there’s an accessory for that – try a ‘sit stand’ desk. Whatever your room size, there are desk options to suit. “Your workspace should reflect your personal style,” explains Michelle.

The benefit of your home office is corporate styling rules don’t apply. Natural materials like wood help create a calm and grounding atmosphere.

Top Tip
Buyer's Guide Home Office White With Round Table and Pendant
This study by Victoria Waters Design is conducive to meetings around a ‘Tulip’ table. (Photography: Nic Gossage / Styling: Lisa Burden)

3. Prioritise lamps and lighting

Good-mood lighting is vital when it comes to a workspace. “Light impacts how you feel and can affect your creativity and productivity,” says Gabby Thomas, lead designer at Freedom. “Avoid stark overhead lighting to boost comfort and aim for maximum natural light to avoid screen glare.”

Task lighting is also essential and the right lamps are key. “Anglepoise lamps are great for this, while LED lights are also less likely to cause eye strain,” says Gabby. A modern incarnation of the classic Anglepoise is the Freedom ‘Stem’ table lamp. It pivots to direct light and has an integrated LED bulb with three brightness settings.

A lamp that’s especially helpful if your office lacks natural light is the Dyson ‘Solarcycle Morph’ desk light. It has the ability to emulate natural light using a daylight tracking algorithm, which adjusts to match the light outdoors based on your location.

For something luxe looking, the Seed Design ‘Pensee’ table lamp from Mondoluce emits a soft glow through its opal glass diffuser.

Aim to have as much natural light as possible in your workspace and use a lamp with a soft glow.

Top Tip
Buyer's Guide Home Office Pink Chair With Light on Desk
While this study by The Unlisted Collective is very functional, it also has a luxe touch with pretty-in-pink soft carpet, plush chairs and floor-to-ceiling curtains. (Photography: Dave Wheeler)

4. Invest in quality stationery

Digital diaries and online notes have their place but there’s still nothing like putting pen to paper. “We spend so much time on screens so it’s a very welcome change to use physical stationery,” agrees founder and former creative director of kikki.K, Kristina Karlsson. The iconic Swedish-Australian entrepreneur lost ownership of kikki.K as a result of Covid but has since launched a new stationery venture, Dream Life, which has been designed to suit modern wants.

“More and more people are demanding sustainable approaches from stationery brands,” says Kristina. “Manufacturing in China with a huge carbon footprint no longer cuts it. We now produce on-demand locally. As an order comes in, we produce it, which reduces wastage and our carbon footprint by not shipping from halfway across the world.”

Customisation is another trend. “It’s become so important to people that my new business is built around it. Every product can be personalised,” says Kristina.

Another female-founded sustainability-minded brand that’s embracing customisation is Beysis. Add your name or initials to their notebooks, phone covers and vegan leather laptop cases.

Modern home office viewed throw open steel framed black doors.
Designed by Koda Design and built by HNT Builders, this space displays stylish home office decor. (Photographer: Louise Roche | Styling: Kylie Jackes)

5. Make your tech travel-friendly

Vanessa Kiel, head of merchandise at Officeworks, says a lot of people are opting for laptops these days due to their portability. We’re needing to be able to pick up work where they left off when we jump on the bus, train or plane. Helpful additions like the Logitech ‘Casa’ pop up desk, which includes a wireless keyboard, wireless touchpad and a laptop stand makes them more comfortable to use wherever you’re working.

There’s also the option of turning your laptop into a pseudo desktop by connecting it to a monitor. You can even step it up from your basic screen to a next-gen version like the Samsung Smart Monitor M8, which rotates 90 degrees to help with viewing items like documents and comes with TV apps embedded if you like the idea of a double-duty device.

Go for speakers if you’re alone or headphones if you need to keep the noise down.

Top Tip

Which type of printer is best for home use?

When it comes to buying a new printer, Vanessa says there are a number of things to keep in mind. “Consider printer type (inkjet or laser) depending on what you plan to print and how often.” Laser is best for high-volume printing, mostly in black and white, while inkjet is great if you need to print high-quality colour images and use glossy paper.

Printing, using double screens and joining meetings now all need to be done effectively from home, so we’ve been prompted to upgrade our home tech. “Demand for home office tech products has increased significantly,” says Vanessa. “Individuals are investing in devices to support remote work. Items like home printers, computer monitors and tech accessories are becoming more popular to create productive work spaces in homes.”

Don’t forget to save all of those receipts and claim your work equipment expenses when it comes to tax time.

Buyer's Guide Home Office Shona McElroy principal at Smac Studio Interior Design
Smac Studio principal Shona McElroy shares some home office inspiration. (Image: Dave Wheeler)

How do I make my home office look nice?

No matter how spacious or small your home office space is, it’s possible to make it look lovely. Here are three tips from Shona McElroy, principal at Smac Studio.

1. Tuck it away. If it’s in a common area, put it behind pocket doors. Out of sight out of mind.

2. Consider cord organisation. I like to put power points below the desk on a shelf, with a cable organiser to the top to keep it all neat and tidy.

3. Layers of lighting. For different times of the day you should have strong lighting, and then some feature or lower lighting if you need to work in the evening (or look good on Zoom).

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