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Updated: 16 May 2022

Home office ideas, tips and inspiration

Our working from home guide will help set up your home office perfectly and fill it with essential tech and comfy furniture
Tom Morgan
1. working in a home office

Working from home, or at least hybrid working, is 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 a garden room, you can create a working space that has everything you need to knuckle down. 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 details on setting up the home office in the best part of your home, plus tips on kitting it out with essential tech.

Home office setup ideas

You could potentially be spending most of your waking hours at your home office station – so it's well-worth investing some time and money in personalising your workspace so you can make working more enjoyable. 

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.

Our image gallery below offers some inspiration:

Home office inspiration

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/working-from-home/article/home-office-guides/home-office-ideas-tips-and-inspiration-aSHyS9Y6zVDz

The best place for a home office

Many people don't have an entire study that can function as a home office, so reworking other parts of your home is the way to go.

Here are some options to consider depending on the space you have available.

Home office in a spare room

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

The best scenario is that you're fortunate enough to have a spare room that you can convert into a home office. You'll have privacy, more space for your desk, chair, tech and storage and there's no need to tidy every night – you can simply shut the door.

Your desk might need to double as a dressing or bedside table if the room is also needed for visitors. 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.


Wherever you're working, if your home office desk chair isn't very comfortable, consider investing in a replacement that will be good for your posture. Head to our guide on choosing the best chair for your home office to find out more.


Home office in a 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

If you’re having to double childcare with working from home, you may have to use the living room.

When setting up your home office in the living room, you might 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 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. 

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 a 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.

Home office in a 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 shoffice (shed office) in the garden could potentially be converted into a working space – these are becoming increasingly popular. 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 office shed or summerhouse, 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 garden office shed that's separate to the main house and further away from your router, consider that your internet connection might be choppier.

If you're working in a garden office, consider your home insurance and whether or not your current plan covers an outbuilding. You might need to contact your insurance provider and let them know about items of value stored in your office.

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 a loft

  • Pros: Likely to be a quiet space where you can focus with minimal distractions
  • Cons: Turning your loft into a home office could be expensive 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 2.2 metres.

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 with our step-by-step loft conversion guide.

Other factors to consider when setting up a home office

  • Indoor air quality the air you breathe has a significant impact on your health. If you're spending most of your day in the same spot, make sure you open windows frequently to get adequate ventilation (this will also help you stay alert if you tend to feel sluggish) or investing in an air purifier. For more tips, see our in-depth guide on how to improve your indoor air quality at home.
  • 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 in your home, 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.
  • 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 to position your desk there. If not, create your own view with an inspirational picture or framed quote.

How to create a home office in a small space

If you're trying to build your home office 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.

Working from home in rented property

If you're renting, you'll be quite limited in terms of how much you can change your workspace. There's a chance you won't be able to paint your walls or drill holes so you can hang up large picture frames.

Before you start thinking about how you'll upgrade your home office, have a chat with your landlord and confirm what you're allowed to do. Some stylistic changes can add value to the property, so your landlord might be open to ideas.

You can inject some personality into your home office with vibrant accessories, rugs and furniture. Smart light bulbs can also allow you to 'paint' walls in colour without actually reaching for a brush. Philips Hue smart light bulbs, for example, will let you create colour profiles that you can swap between – you can have a bright 'work' mode during the day and a calming blue light in the evening.

If you need cheat sheets in front of you as you work, command strips and command hooks are both renter-friendly options. These are designed so that no marks are left on your wall when they're removed.

For more details on what's expected of both you and your landlord, check in with our expert guide on rental property maintenance and repairs.

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 your legs better clearance.

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

Standing desk

A comfortable chair

Buy an 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 our guide on 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 keep using up paper. You can hang your whiteboard just above your PC monitor or laptop for quick access.

Home office tech

Laptops

An entry-level laptop with a small screen can be yours for less than £200, but at this price, the laptop will probably only be able to deal with simple tasks.

  • Cheap laptops (<£500) – good enough for writing up documents and sending off emails. The Chromebook range is worth a look if you're on a tight budget.
  • Mid-range laptops (£500-£800) – in this price range you'll get a bigger screen and enough processing power to edit photos and videos.
  • Premium laptops (£800+) – if you want to run lots of resource-intensive apps at once, a model with a top-of-the-range processor is the best option.
Using a laptop in a home office

How big should my laptop be? A big-screen laptop makes it easier to multitask as you can have lots of windows open at once, but if you're on a budget, you could save some money by buying a smaller laptop and hooking it up to a larger monitor.

How much desktop storage do I need? If your job requires you to deal with large files, pictures and videos, you'll need a good amount. Alternatively, you could rely on a cloud storage service, but you might need to pay a monthly fee for the convenience.


Whatever your budget, check in with our expert laptop reviews to make sure you're grabbing a Which? Best Buy that suits your needs.


Desktop PCs

Although bulky, a desktop PC is far more customisable than a laptop. If your desktop is slowing down after a couple of years, you can add extra Ram (memory) or a new graphics card. You'll also usually get more processing power than you would with a laptop.

  • Cheap desktop PCs (<£400) – a basic machine for emails, documents and web browsing. Many desktops in this price bracket are powered by an Intel Core i3 processor (i5 and i7 processors are faster).
  • Mid-range desktop PCs (£400-£750) – a better option if you're editing pictures and multitasking. There's a jump up in processing power, which means you might be able to choose an Intel Core i5 processor.
  • Premium desktop PCs (£750+) – your best option if you plan on editing videos or gaming after you're done working through the day. Expect lots more built-in storage for your larger files.
Using a desktop PC in a home office

How much laptop storage do I need? Storage space is a key consideration, so think about the size of the files you'll be dealing with. Most desktop PC towers have a couple of empty drive bays, so if you're low on space, you can buy a new hard drive and slot it inside the machine.

How much Ram do I need? If you're shopping for a basic PC for email, word processing and web browsing, get at least 4GB of Ram. For users that like to multitask or edit photos, 8GB is a better option. If you want want a PC for video editing and gaming, grab at least 16GB, if not 32GB, of Ram.


Discover the top desktop PCs we've tested in our lab with our guide on the best desktop PCs and all-in-one computers.


Fast, reliable broadband

When working from home, you need broadband that can keep up. A standard broadband deal will give you speeds of around 8-11Mbps, which is more than enough for a small household. A family of four constantly using the internet should consider a superfast package, usually between 35Mbps and 70Mbps.

The price is made up of payment per month and any upfront costs. Expect to pay from £15 a month for standard broadband and from £35 a month for ultra-fast broadband.

Using broadband at home

It can pay to haggle. Fishing for a deal might save you from having to swap broadband providers entirely, instead scoring you a cheaper plan with your current provider.

Make sure your broadband is good enough to support you while you're working from home by using our free broadband speed checker tool. Make a note of how the results compare to the speeds you were promised when you signed up with your provider.


To help you save money, we've put together an in-depth guide on the best cheap fibre and broadband deals.


Printers

If your work requires you to print off professional-grade photos or posters, your employer may be able to advise on which models are best. Otherwise, an affordable printer for less than £100 should be fine. 

  • Cheap printers (<£100) – a cheap printer should be fine if you just need to print A4 documents, forms and the odd photo.
  • Mid-range printers (£100-£300) – increase your budget if you need a printer that can churn out high-quality prints larger than A4. Mid-range printers can usually offer an automatic document feeder, or automatic double-sided printing.
  • Premium printers (£300+) – This is probably overkill for the average home office. Premium printers can produce high-quality prints extremely quickly and many have touchscreen displays that let you edit photos on the printer itself.
Printer in a home office

Should I buy an Inkjet or laser printer? Inkjet printers are the smaller of the two, so you'll probably lean towards those if you have limited space in your home office. Inkjet printers can handle text-heavy documents and print photos. Our expert tests show that inkjet printers usually cost you less up front, but more in the long term.

Meanwhile, laser printers are designed to churn out documents, graphs and charts. They're generally faster than inkjets, but they're also bulkier and louder. If you're printing photos in your home office, a laser printer is the better option.


To make sure you end up with a printer you can rely on, browse our expert printer reviews.


Headphones

The best headphones block out the outside world and help you focus on your work without any interruptions.

  • Cheap headphones (<£50) – the majority of headphones at this price are in-ear. Budget headphones suit occasional use, but you'll get a comfier fit from pricier alternatives.
  • Mid-range headphones (£50-£150) – expect improved build and sound quality. You may also get handy extras, such as a bundled travel case or voice command support.
  • Premium headphones (£150+) – should offer the best noise-cancelling technology and comfort.
Headphones in a home office

What type of headphones are best? Noise-cancelling headphones are ideal for noisy spaces. This sophisticated technology can drive the price up, however. You'll need to pay at least £100, and often more. Wireless headphones certainly make it easier to move around in your home office, but you'll need to consider battery life as the headphones will need charging regularly.

Headphones with built-in microphones If you're leading a group presentation remotely at your computer, having some mic-equipped headphones will help others hear what you're saying. You could potentially rely on the microphone built into your work PC, but the sound won't be as crisp. Investing in a headset for work that has a microphone stalk right next to your mouth will make things clearer.


Our rigorous lab tests reveal the best over-ear, on-ear and in-ear headphones. See our pick of the best headphones.


Monitors

You might need a monitor to use with your desktop PC. Or if you're using a small laptop to work from home, buy a monitor and you can plug your laptop into it to mirror or extend your display to the larger screen. This makes it far simpler to multitask.

  • Cheap PC monitors (<£100) – most cheap PC monitors go up to around 24 inches. Expect a resolution up to 1080p.
  • Mid-range PC monitors (£200-£300) – screen sizes of between 24 inches and 30 inches. Some mid-range monitors are 'ultrawide' (21:9 aspect ratio rather than the traditional monitor screen ratio of 16:9, so you can fit two documents side by side) or curved.
  • Premium PC monitors (£300+) – ideal if you work in graphic design, as you get extra screen space (more than 30 inches) and better colour accuracy. Screen resolution can go right up to 4K.

What size monitor do I need for a home office? Screen size is mostly down to personal preference, but do bear in mind the shape of your home office and desk space. Most home office setups should comfortably fit a 24-inch monitor, which is one of the most popular sizes. If you're tackling complex design tasks, go for a larger screen.

What monitor resolution do I need? The resolution that your monitor runs at impacts how clear text and images appear on-screen. For example, 1080p resolution (1,920x1,080 pixels) is clearer than 720p resolution (1,280x720 pixels). At the higher end of the scale is 4K, but that resolution is typically reserved for monitors beyond the £300 mark.


For more expert advice on buying a monitor for your home office, see our guide on the best computer monitor.


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

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/working-from-home/article/home-office-guides/home-office-ideas-tips-and-inspiration-aSHyS9Y6zVDz

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.

Add some greenery

Add some vibrant colours to your home office with a couple of plants for the floor and your desk. Remember to consider how much light they need 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. If working from home means more coffee spillages, find out how to clean a carpet. Or, if you need a new carpet, discover the best places to buy carpet

Create a home office for free

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 home

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.