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27 July 2021

Home office ideas, tips and inspiration

Our working from home guide will help you pick the best spot for your home office and fill it with essential tech and comfy furniture
Tom Morgan
1. working in a home office

The coronavirus pandemic has made working from home the new normal for many of us. To help you avoid distractions and stay focused on your work, we recommend setting up a home office or a dedicated working space. Our in-depth guide explains how to get started.

Whether you're using a spare room or a study, the kitchen table or the dining room, you can create a working space that has everything you need to knuckle down from home. Making sure you have reliable tech is important (strong broadband is vital), but so is setting up the space and decorating the area in a way that makes it a pleasure to work in.

Below, we're sharing some home office design ideas to inspire you when it's time to decorate. We've also got more details on picking the best spot for your home office, and tips on buying the best furniture suitable for working from home.

Home office ideas

You could potentially be spending several hours a day in your home office. Investing some time and money in personalising your workspace can go a long way.

We suggest planning your home office space to suit your personality – don't be afraid of vibrant colours and patterns if that's what you enjoy. Remember, colour can instantly transform a dull corner into a welcoming space that encourages you to stay productive.

Explore our image gallery below for some ideas on how to create your home office:

Home office inspiration

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The best place for a home office

Not everybody has an entire study that can function as a home office, so reworking other parts of the house is the way to go.

Here are some options to consider depending on the space you have available when you're working from home.

Home office in the spare room

  • Pros: Plenty of space to work with, minimal distractions
  • Cons: You may need to rearrange things when guests come over

Think of your spare room as a potential blank canvas for you to personalise as your own. You'll have privacy, more space for your desk, chair, tech and storage and there's no need to tidy everything away every night – you can simply shut the door.

Your desk might need to double as a dressing or bedside table if the room will be needed for visitors in the future. Alternatively, you could consider buying a rolling desk that can easily be moved out of the way when you have guests over.

Crucially, you also need to think about whether you get a decent internet signal in your spare room. If not, you might need to invest in a wi-fi extender to improve the range.

Home office in the living room

  • Pros: Likely positioned close to your internet router, large space
  • Cons: A shared space if you don't live alone, lots of potential distractions

Your living room could make space for the perfect home office if you need to double working from home with childcare.

If you're setting up your home office in the living room, you may need to remind other members of the house to use headphones if they want to listen to music, watch TV or play video games. In fact, it's probably a good idea to set up your living room workspace in an area that's facing away from the TV – a loud telly can tempt you away from your painfully boring emails.

The living room sofa is a soft spot to retire to when you need time away from your desk, but make sure you don't get too comfy. If your current home office desk chair isn't very comfortable, you can treat yourself to a replacement or try adding some cushions.

Many households will have the internet router set up behind the TV in the living room. If that's the case, you're more likely to get a speedy internet connection while using a laptop in the same room. Running an ethernet cable from the router to your computer is another option, but make sure nobody trips over it.

Home office in the dining room

  • Pros: The dining table can function as a large home office desk
  • Cons: You may need to clear space regularly so you can eat

The dining room can potentially work as a home office. Check the table height to see whether it works as a desk, and if you're using a laptop put a cover down so you don't scratch the surface.

If you're planning on working at the dining room table for hours at a time, treat yourself to a chair that's better for your posture. Our guide on choosing the best chair for your home office has all the details.

Home office in the garden

  • Pros: Fewer distractions if you're working in your own private space
  • Cons: Probably positioned far away from your internet router

A summerhouse or shed sat in the garden could potentially be converted into a home office. You might prefer the view that comes with working in the garden, or there might be plenty of natural light. It can also create the feeling of 'going to work', which some people like.

If you want to put up small detached buildings, such as a garden shed or summerhouse in your garden, building regulations will not normally apply if the floor area of the building is less than 15 square metres and contains no sleeping accommodation. But always check full details on the government's planning portal.

When working in a space that's separate to the main house and further away from your router, consider that your internet connection might be choppier.

For more details on different types of sheds, typical prices and sizes, consult our expert guide on how to buy the best shed.

Home office in the loft

  • Pros: A quiet space where you can focus with minimal distractions
  • Cons: Can get costly if you're starting from scratch

A spacious loft can make for a nice, private home office space. You'll want to make sure that it's as clutter-free as possible, as a busy work area can be a pain to walk around.

If your loft already functions as a bedroom or study area, you won't need to make too many adjustments to turn it into a home office.

But if you're starting from scratch, you'll need to come up with a price estimate for the project to avoid overspending and ensure you have planning permission, if necessary. Note the height of the ceiling and ensure it meets minimum height requirements – the highest point of the pitch must be at least 2.2m.

Another important factor to consider is internet access. Think about the position of your router and whether or not you'll get a good internet connection from the loft. If not, you'll need to feed an ethernet cable into the loft or try some wi-fi extenders.

Find out how to get started on your loft conversion with our step-by-step loft conversion guide.

How to create a home office in a small space

If you're trying to build your home office setup in a confined space, you'll need to get creative.

Making the most of vertical space can help. Your home office desk only needs to be as wide as your PC monitor or laptop, so consider adding some floating shelves above you for general office supplies. You could also transform an old cupboard into an office desk, incorporating a shelf for your PC. Or an unused alcove could be enough to house a desk to work at.

If you have stairs at home, you may be able to create a little nook underneath. Putting some art on the wall and adding hanging lights above you will make the space feel cosier.

Standing room dividers or curtains can also come in handy if you want to separate a single room into different zones.

Other factors to consider

  • Light A well-lit environment is important for your health and reduces eye strain if you're staring at a monitor. If natural light isn't good, invest in decent lighting. 
  • Noise You'll find it much easier to get your work done in a peaceful environment. If you can't escape a busy house, some noise-cancelling headphones will help.
  • Time Hanging a clock on the wall will not only keep you on track but also help you to remember to take regular screen breaks to rest your eyes. See more on 10 ways to stay healthy working from home.
  • Visitors If clients will be coming to your home office, think about where you'll put them and how you'll entertain them. A Which? Best Buy coffee machine could come in handy.
  • Storage If you can't close the door on your home office, you'll want storage that tidies everything away out of sight once your working day is done.
  • View If you're lucky enough to have a lovely view from your home office window, try and position your desk there. If not, create your own view with an inspirational picture or framed quote.

What home office furniture do I need?

A sturdy desk

Your home office desk needs to be stable and potentially strong enough to support chunky tech products such as desktop PCs and printers.

Having a desk with lots of storage space is a bonus, but make sure there's enough room for your knees or you won't be comfortable. Drawers to the side will generally give better clearance for your legs.

For more tips on what to watch out, for see our home office desk buying guide.

A comfortable chair

Buy a home office chair that offers plenty of back support. If you don't want to invest in a new chair, try a special support cushion or lumbar roll and position it at the base of your spine.

Make sure you pick the right chair for good posture by reading: choosing the best chair for your home office.

Useful home office accessories

  1. Desk lamp A cheap way of adding some light to your workspace. A desk lamp with a swing arm is easily adjustable, or you can buy an organiser desk lamp that has built-in slots for pens and and post-it notes.
  2. Ergonomic foot rest Stay comfortable at your desk with a portable footrest. These reduce pressure on your legs and your lower back, plus they're relatively cheap.
  3. Laptop stand Position your screen right in front of your eyes so you're not sat in a position that's bad for your back
  4. Phone cradle This will keep your phone still if you're using it for video calls. If your smartphone has wireless charging functionality, you can pick a stand that gives your mobile some juice at the same time.
  5. Whiteboard Handy if you need to jot something down and don't want to sacrifice your printer paper. You can hang your whiteboard just above your PC monitor or laptop for quick access.

What home office tech do I need?

Reliable broadband

You won't be able to host group meetings and present on video calls with a dodgy broadband connection.

According to Ofcom, the average UK home broadband speed is around 64 megabits per second (Mbps). If you're not getting that sort of performance from your current broadband provider, it might be time to switch.

Use our expert advice to uncover the best and worst broadband providers 2021 for powering your home office setup.

A capable laptop or desktop PC

The best laptops we've tested are easy to use and handle multitasking without a fuss. If your work requires you to have lots of tabs open at once, owning a laptop with lots of processing power really makes a difference.

Even if you own a laptop with a small screen, you can hook it up to a larger monitor via the HDMI port. If you have a second TV in your bedroom, for example, consider using that in your home office temporarily.

To see which budget-priced and premium laptops we recommend, see our selection of Best Buy laptops.

Alternatively, if you're looking for a machine that will be easier to upgrade with extra storage space in a couple of years, a desktop PC is a better fit. Discover our Best Buy desktop PCs.

Noise-cancelling headphones

Block out the noise of the living room from your home office with a pair of soundproof headphones. See our Best Buy headphones for more details.

A cheap-to-run printer

An essential part of your home office if you need to send off documents or stick things to the wall. Choose wisely and discover our full selection of Best Buy printers.

A smart speaker

Grab a voice-activated smart speaker and you can make calls and schedule calendar events without picking up your work phone. See which models we recommend with our Best Buy wireless and Bluetooth speakers.

How can I decorate my home office?

Keeping things organised while you're working from home is really important. Your normal office should have plenty of storage space, but that might not be the case at home.

Home office decorating ideas

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Work in some extra storage spots as you're decorating your home office. You could try buying a filing cabinet for the corner of the room or place a couple of small paper baskets on your desk.

If you've set up a computer in your home office, work on your cable management. Run the cables around the back of your desk and keep them compact with some cable tidies. Ikea sells a whole range of cable management accessories that keep things looking nice and neat.

Good lighting is key to improving productivity and keeping your mood up. Shop around for desk lamps or standing lights if things are a little dark.

Get arty

If your home office is looking a little dull, try hanging up some pictures on the walls if you have the space. You could also put a digital photo frame on your desk to really put the 'home' in home office.

Add some greenery

Add some vibrant colours to your home office with a couple of plants for the floor and your desk. Remember to factor in natural light when you're deciding where to put them.>

Make the most of wall space

Fill an empty wall in your home office with a stylish calendar or whiteboard. These keep your desk clutter-free and encourage you to stand up every so often.

Add a rug

A wool rug will add warmth to the room you're working from. It can also go some way to protecting your carpet if you're rolling around in your office chair.

Make do with what you've got

Ideally, you should have proper equipment for home working. However, before you rush to buy, or if budget is tight, look at what you already have around you to see if you can safely make do with these in the meantime.

Kirsty Angerer, ergonomic consultant and member of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors, recommends these swaps:

  • Use a pile of books instead of a foot rest.
  • Use cushions or a rolled-up towel instead of a lumbar support cushion.
  • Put your laptop on a box to raise it instead of buying a dedicated laptop stand.
  • Connect your laptop to your TV monitor using an HDMI cable to give you a bigger screen to work on.
  • Take the drawer out of a kitchen table or dressing table to get your legs under it for use as a desk.
  • A sturdy ironing board can be used as a desk for either sitting or standing once you’ve checked the height – and can be easily put away at the end of the working day.

How to declutter your workspace

Your productivity will take a real hit if you're surrounded by clutter while you work. But fear not, as there are plenty of inexpensive ways to neaten up your working space.

Consider investing in some desktop drawers for your stationery. Some drawers will double as a laptop stand, so you're getting extra storage space and a raised laptop display that's potentially even better for your posture.

Cable management is also key. If you have loads of wires trailing across your desk or by your feet, consider installing some wall trunking to hide the cables. 'A tidy home is a tidy mind', as they say.

Working from home: tax relief

Having to work from home could impact your tax bill, home insurance and car insurance.

If your bills and other expenses increase as a result of working from home, you may be able to claim a tax rebate on what you’ve spent.

For more information, see our guide: Working from home during the coronavirus outbreak: what it means for your finances.