How To Design an At-Home Office that Isn't Going to Stress You Out

Photo by Slava Keyzman

Your side hustle called, and it wants a real office. 

With technology making us reachable practically anywhere, working from home has become a common alternative (and often supplement) to traditional 9-5 office hours. Whether you’re in the market for an at-home office for running your business, getting ahead on work, or just filing taxes and organizing your schedule, you deserve a designated space that can help you get it all done efficiently. So, how do you design an at-home office that will give you the structure you need, but isn’t going to stress you out? Consider the following:

1. Keep it Separate from your living spaces

Working from home can often end up looking like papers strewn over our dining tables, couches, and kitchen counters. While it’s great to try and work in a space that still lets you be around family, this kind of set-up leads to work intruding on time and places where conversations should be happening. If you don’t have the space to devote an entire room to business, try designating a kitchen corner instead, or partition off a back area of your living room with a stylish screen. The key is that the place you work isn’t completely isolated, but can become invisible when not in use. 

2. Hidden storage is key 

Three things you don’t want to see when you’re relaxing: loose papers, tangles of electric cords, and of course, a printer. Wrangle files in stylish boxes like this mint green organizer so storage becomes a way to bring color into your home. Label the front side of boxes with printed tags or small stickers so the papers are hidden but easy to find. (Want to make your files even more fun? Try folders in a splashy print like these lemon-patterned ones from the Container Store.) 

Use zip ties to gather your cords, then loop them through a mount positioned under your desk or in another non-visible space. (These ones sold through Amazon are easy to install.)

If you have a desk with a solid base, try tucking your printer underneath it so it can only be seen when you’re sitting at the desk. Prop it on top of a low file cabinet or stool so it’s still off the ground and easier to reach. If you’re using a small table or leggy desk, consider putting your printer in a console (good if you already have one in your living room for a tv or games) or underneath an overturned basket. 

Image via The Sill | ALIGN : LEFT

3. Add plants

Nothing says self-care like a little greenery at home. Plants literally add life to your work space, help clean your air, and can add a light fragrance. A large, leafy plant like a philodendron can also help camouflage utilitarian items like a waste basket or shredder. 

4. Find the perfect chair

Look for ergonomic options with solid back support, an adjustable height if possible, and comfortable fabric. This swivel chair from World Market is business on the bottom, midcentury modern classiness on top: all the perks of an office chair, without looking like an office chair. In general, look for furniture that doesn’t feel like office furniture, so your work space just looks like an extension of your living area when not in use. 

5. Position your desk by windows

It’s not news that natural light does loads to help your health, productivity, and energy levels. If possible, position your desk and chair so your view outdoors is at eye level and in your line of sight. If you’re in a creative field, this is especially helpful for brainstorming breaks and inspiration: it gives your mind something else to focus on instead of the busy screen in front of you, for a moment of rest. Don’t have any windows where you work? Hang a piece of art or tapestry that inspires and soothes you. 

6. Personalize it

The best part about working from home is your space is totally owned by you! Use the opportunity to paint your walls an invigorating color, include desktop accessories that remind you of your achievements and travels and get you motivated to meet your goals. Change up items every now and then as you would around the rest of the house, and include some pieces that don’t have an office function and are a little quirky—after all, what’s an office without a bit of humor? 

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