How to Fine-Tune Your Home Office

home office design ideas

source: Pottery Barn

A good friend of mine spent more money than she cares to admit on furniture and accessories for her new home office. For the first few months she loved it and couldn’t wait to take the 10-second commute to her home office to get to work every day. Then everything changed. She realized she was wasting time looking for supplies, her files were out of reach, and she started to feel claustrophobic.

On the surface a home office may seem picture-perfect, but what it has in style, it may lack in function. You don’t have to spend a fortune to turn your home office into a well-designed, functional space.

Think compact, yet not too confined.

Create a work area with everything including your desk, credenza, file cabinet, and supplies within reach. This will keep you from wasting time jumping from one area to another to grab what you need. Several years ago when I worked with the winner of the “Most Disorganized Home Office” contest, we turned her enormous attic home office into a cozy, workable space. By the end of our organizing and design session, we had set up her home office near two windows, and left the rest of the space open.

Limit the number of accessories.

Think of your desk as valuable real estate that you don’t want to clutter with unnecessary items and instead want to leave open for work. Keep in mind that design magazines “stage” their photos. They add more accessories than normal, place furniture in awkward places because it photographs better, and, in some cases, create a room that no one could comfortably live or work in. The photos look amazing, but if you take the time to look at a home office photo you may see a rigid chair instead of an adjustable one, and plants and knick knacks on the desk instead of accessories.

Go for less.

Your home office should be comfortable, yet functional, stylish, yet not overstuffed with excess accessories. The rule of thumb is less is more. Buy what you need for your office, but make sure you can find what you need when you need it.

Whether you redesign your home office or start from scratch, buy what works and buy what fits the way you work. At the same time, remember that you don’t have to sacrifice style and design to achieve function. The two can work hand in hand.


  1. Ah, that is/was/has always been my problem.
    Now that I am again working from one of my home offices 3 days a week, I wish I had a button to clear off the desks from the five projects that are the reasons why I am working from home. At least I have 3 desks here- so I only have to split 2 of them…(and that’s why I need more desks- so everything is available when I want and where I reach.)
    Great advice, as usual, Lisa.
    (Oh, and I’m dressed!)
    Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, recently posted..‘Twerent me!My Profile

  2. Hi,
    What I learned when I created my home office was that I made it a point to have my file cabinet within close proximity to my desk. If it was on the other side of the room I would tend to leave file folders on my desktop or elsewhere in my office resulting in clutter and file folders and paperwork not getting back to their proper place.

    I agree wholeheartedly that keeping everything within close proximity is a big key when it comes to any office configuration.

    Bob Bessette recently posted..An Interview with Work at Home Forum Owner – Vishal P. RaoMy Profile

    • It’s easy to put something aside “for now” until you have time to put it where it belongs. When you keep supplies and storage nearby, it’s easier to find what you need when you need it and store things right away where they belong.
      Lisa recently posted..How to Fine-Tune Your Home OfficeMy Profile

  3. Keep it simple, live simple, use what you need, discard the rest; my problem is that sometimes I find a shinny gadget (books, notebooks and pens are my problem) that you think you are going to use but never really do, until you realize that you just like the shinny gadget.
    Gustavo recently posted..Exploring Mayan ruins in search of the unknown (micro interview)My Profile

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