Part command center, part personal brand and part protector of the separation between personal and professional: a dedicated home office space serves many functions. But if you’re still rocking a haphazard setup from early pandemic days, or haven’t yet abandoned the dining room table in favor of a separate work area, you might find your arrangement has grown slightly stale.
Which means it’s time for a refresh! Review our tips and trends for creating a home office design to maximize your productivity, remain Zen despite the many Zooms and showcase your personal aesthetic.
Create a Home Office Design for Better Productivity
Form Follows Function
Before embarking on your design journey, you first need to determine what role you want your home office to play in your home—and life.
“I don’t get asked to produce a calm workplace as much as a productive one,” Meg Behrens, founder and lead designer of Meg Behrens Design, says. “Many times clients have been working at the kitchen table and are in the middle of the family action. In remodels, we are closing in the formal dining room to create an office.”
Stephanie Pohlman, owner and head designer of Stephanie Pohlman Designs, is seeing an increased need for a functional home office.
“If you find it would be more useful to get multiple uses out of the space, think about built-ins or flexible solutions to give you exactly what you need,” Pohlman says.
Stop the Flow—Sometimes
Behrens believes actually having a door is critical to the home office experience, creating a physical boundary between work life and home life.
“This helps so you can have quietness and actually think when working, or close out the noise while you’re on a Zoom call,” she notes. “But many people still like to know what the household is doing, so they are opting for a steel and glass door.”
So, just how much might this home office project cost?
“We typically budget 8-10K for a full room design,” Pohlman says. “The cost can vary based on how elaborate you go with furniture and cabinetry.”
Behrens says final costs can depend on the square footage of the room, and what is already in place.
“If you have to add walls and glass doors, it will be more expensive than an office that is already enclosed. Good office furniture I like to see as an investment, because you use it five out of seven days and spend a lot of time with it.”
Clutter Be Gone
To ensure you’re staying on task, think sleek and simple. Behrens wants clients to remove any TVs from their home office, while Pohlman believes personal items should be kept to a minimum.
“This creates a separation of your work and life balance,” she adds, adding that clutter can also make a work environment more stressful or distracting.
“We like to incorporate built-ins or furniture pieces with storage for extra electronics and paper files to keep them off your desk,” she notes.
Installing floating shelves can also help you easily access what you need, increasing your efficiency and thereby reducing stress.
Another stress reduction component to a home office comes from your choice of furniture and paint colors.
House Beautiful advocates for thoughtfully-chosen hues, as color plays a large part in influencing our mood. Looking for something soothing? Think blues, greens and neutrals. If you want to feel energized or increase creativity, opt for bright shades.
“We like to keep the overall color palette neutral for a calming environment,” Pohlman says. “Keeping artwork and accessories simple, yet eye-catching, is important!”
“I love to have a cute potted plant in the corner, or one on a desk,” Behrens adds. “This connects you to the outside and actually helps you breathe as well, if it’s a real plant.”
Expected 2024 Trends
Searching for further inspiration, or how to inject personality into a staid space? Behrens feels the home office aesthetic is trending in one of two directions.
“People are either wanting a natural office with lots of organic materials, or they’re going dark and moody,” she says. “For instance, we’re getting ready to finish an office, and built-ins and walls are all painted Farrow & Ball Beverly #310 [a muted mossy green]. We have brushed gold sconces above the built-ins and an amazing chandelier to showcase the whole space.”
Pohlman’s clients are still requesting flexible workstations that are multiuse, such as adding Murphy beds or also using the office as a homework room.
“We continue to get requests for a nice focal point behind the desk, too,” she adds. “Sometimes this can mean built-ins, or a feature accent wall with interesting woodwork details.”
Behrens adds that people are also thinking about their Zoom backgrounds and want them to look curated.
“We are specifying fun wallpapers, wainscoting or trim walls,” she says. “People want an accent and a statement.”
Photo by asbe/iStock.
Jill McDonnell is a Chicago-based content writer and communications professional. She has a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in public relations and advertising from DePaul University. She is currently at work on a psychological thriller novel.