How to set up a home office for comfort and productivity — 19 expert ideas

A good home office setup is key to performance and well-being. Experts share how to set up a home office for comfort and productivity.

how to set up a home office Brown and beige home office idea by ILIV
(Image credit: ILIV)

Now more than ever, we're looking at how to set up a home office for comfort and productivity. Many of us have found new ways of working remotely and with many temporary WFH spaces becoming more permanent, it's crucial to ensure the space works for you.

Slouching over a laptop on a sofa or using a spare dining chair are far from ideal home office ideas. Where we would have usually shrugged off a bit of back pain, or eye strain, we need to look after our physical and mental health for WFH to work long-term. 

Create an ergonomic home office setup

Bo Hellberg, CMO at String Furniture says 'The home office is just as important as any other room, if not more important due to the number of hours most of us spend there. Which is why you should create a workspace where function and design are in equilibrium.' 

From appropriate lighting, to adjustable desks, ergonomic chairs and calming color schemes, there are ways to perfect your home office setup.

1. Use a strong color to aid concentration

Annie Sloan Home Office Capri Pink Wall Paint Chalk Paint In Emperor's Silk Capri Pink Burgundy And Antoinette

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

'Combined with darker tones of red, black and burgundy, this punchy pink creates a wonderfully warm canvas for art and photography,' explains Annie Sloan.

'Strong colors are particularly effective in aiding concentration, hence many traditional studies are painted in strong shades. If you don't have the luxury of a separate home office, pick up a small bureau from your local vintage shop for next to nothing, then drench in the same color as your walls to create an office that you won't need or want to leave come the evening.'

2. Use open shelving for an organized display

Home office with open shelving by My Bespoke Room

(Image credit: My Bespoke Room)

'Things that look nice can be displayed on open shelving.', says Laura Simpson, co-founder of My Bespoke Room.

'There’s nothing more pleasing to the eye than a perfectly styled shelf - so get your favorite items out in the open!

'Files, documents, chargers and stationery can be stowed away in uniform boxes and files and make for a smart storage solution.'

And listening to doctor's orders, Dr Ranj Singh, TV presenter and wellness ambassador for Furniture Village says: 'Creating a space that you enjoy spending time will not only make your working day more enjoyable but could boost your productivity and help to alleviate work-related anxiety.'

'A tidy and organised space will enable your mind to focus on the task at hand, so ensuing that you have adequate storage is important.'

'Whether that’s a set of shelves, a sideboard or simply a drawer built into your desk to reduce surface clutter – it’s worth having a think about what will work for you.'

3. Opt for an adjustable desk to improve posture

Adjustable desk with green velvet chair by Furniture Village

(Image credit: Furniture Village)

Coffee and dining tables just aren't designed for remote working – period. So when deciding on the best home office setup for comfort and productivity, it's worth investing in an adjustable desk that allows to you work in a seating position that promotes good posture or, to stand if you're that way inclined.

'Technology enables remote working but it doesn't mean we all have the optimal workspace set-up at home.', adds Hellberg.

'Having a flexible work desk and storage, allows you to have a functional space, no matter where or what size your office is.' 

4. Smudge the room with sage or nature-inspired hues

Green home office idea by Farrow and Ball

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

If deadlines and targets are causing you pull your hair out, introducing a harmonious color palette which draws on nature is the way to go. Color psychology plays an important part in your WFH environment.

'The herb sage is thought to have calming properties, and it is the same with a lick of sage paint.' says Paula Taylor, Graham and Brown.

'Transform your home office into a calming oasis with this fresh yet muted hue; partner with pastel shades to evoke a playful energy. To add more warmth to north facing rooms, combine with light yellow, gold and cream accessories.'

While Rob Green, co-founder and paint expert, COAT Paints adds: 'It’s important to consider the color of the room as opposed to simply the furniture, heating and lighting when designing an office space that promotes comfort and productivity.'

'Muted blues and neutrals are perfect for creating a calm environment that facilitates a clear mind, productivity and focus as opposed to choosing oranges, yellows etc which are energetic, creative colors.'

5. Make your space bloom with floral wallpaper

Purple floral wallpaper in home office idea by Graham & Brown

(Image credit: Graham & Brown)

'Biophilia is one of the key trends for this season, so step into the warmer months with blooming floral patterns, botanical prints and hand-painted flowers on the walls.', says Taylor.

'Pair with leafy plants and low maintenance cacti to generate more oxygen in the work space, satisfying any desires to connect with nature.'

Richard Petrie, interior expert at Thomas Sanderson pays homage to Oriental design. He says: 'Bonsai, an art form in Japan, aims to blend horticultural skills with aesthetics, represents balance and harmony and trees can be displayed either indoors or outdoors.'

'Bring nature inside through large windows or sliding doors which let the light flood into any room.'

6. Or opt for actual houseplants instead

Houseplants in living room home office setup by Homesense

(Image credit: Homesense)

Aside from aesthetics, the benefits of houseplants are appreciated by both interior and medical experts for the positive effect on our bodies and home offices. Whether you're looking for small home office ideas or have lots of space, plants are a versatile tool for any scheme. 

Richard Petrie, interior expert at Thomas Sanderson pays homage to Oriental design. He says: 'Bonsai, an art form in Japan, aims to blend horticultural skills with aesthetics, represents balance and harmony and trees can be displayed either indoors or outdoors.'

'Bring nature inside through large windows or sliding doors which let the light flood into any room.'

7. Create a cozy environment with a radiator design

Vetro Stone electric radiator by Frontline Bathrooms in living room

(Image credit: Frontline)

No longer are radiators bulky, boring and ugly apparatus that sit shamefully on a wall in your home. Today's modern home office ideas are sleek, streamlined and sophisticated. 

So whether you opt for a white gloss design, or want to make a statement with a vertical design, this is your answer if you're wondering how to set up home office that won't be chilly.

Antonio Dengra, CEO at international electric heating company Rointe says: 'It’s advised that you maintain an average temperature of 21 degrees Celsius (70F) in your home to achieve the perfect balance between efficient consumption and pleasant temperature.

'Additionally, this is a much more sustainable and responsible way of saving energy.'

'Switching from a gas system to an electric one and replacing radiators or floor heating has many advantages such as being a more simple and affordable installation and more efficient, but do take consumption into consideration.'

8. Find the best source of natural light near a window

Green home office design with wildlife wall art decor by Lola Design Ltd

(Image credit: Lola Design Ltd)

Asides from visibility and brightness, sunlight can make us feel happier all year round. You'll only have to notice your mood change once winter hits.

Many of us are even affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and have to resort to light boxes and wake up lights to help us during the darker months.

'Natural light tends to make spaces feel bigger, so try setting up your work station by a window, especially if you are restricted to a smaller area.', says Taylor

'Open blinds and curtains to let the daylight bounce off the walls; warm tones like coral and pigmented pinks will help keep the chills at bay in darker areas.'

'These are positive colors which pair beautifully with warm woods and darkened cream hues.'

9. Open-plan working? Zone a room with a divider

Rattan room divider in home office by Habitat

(Image credit: Habitat)

As well as getting on with adult life and all that entails, we've also had to look after our children for longer and take on the role of teachers and tutors in a home schooling environment.

But if you need to block out noise or distractions, a temporary partition or divider can help muffle the excitement of children playing while you're on a Zoom call. 

'Screen dividers provide a simple, flexible solution for zoning home spaces.', says Rachael Fell, Habitat furniture buying manager.

'Ideal for working from home, a woven or rattan screen provides a stylish backdrop for video calls and still allows light to flow around the room, while also minimizing noise levels.'

10. Create a cozy office under the stairs

Victorian cottage slow living scandi home office

(Image credit: Future)

If you don't have a dedicated room for your office then look to see where you can utilize your space. 

There's often an alcove like area that can fit a desk and if you paint it all white you'll have a light and bright space that is ideal for home working. Keep your desk and chair light in color so they don't make the space look heavy visually and be as minimal as possible with your office essentials. 

11. Opt for ergonomic seating that hugs your body

Boucle teddy material desk chair in home office with rug and pink walls

(Image credit: Homesense)

A luxurious office chair is sure to add a stylish flare to your office or home study. But looks aren't always everything. So when looking at how to set up a home office for comfort and productivity, consider a soft material too. 

With a teddy-like, boucle body, this desk chair from Homesense will hug the contours of your body. Combined with wheels that are ideal for easy movement will make this chair the most comfortable suitor for long working days.

And if there's one piece of invaluable advice when choosing a seating position - it's this: 'Don't continue to sit cross legged on your sofa and work with your laptop on your lap, if you’re wondering why you have a sore back – this is why,' says Michel Baumgart, design expert and BoConcept's business and contract director. 

'It's also incredibly hard to focus on work and the additional strain you're putting on your body isn’t helping.'

12. Use cushions for comfort

Brown and beige home office idea by ILIV

(Image credit: ILIV)

We've all been there. Using garden or traditional dining room chairs in the morning to start work, only to get a numb bum by midday. But if an office chair is out of budget, what are you to do. Simple: prop a pillow or cushion or two over the hard surface.

'Adding a cushion to an office chair is not only aesthetically pleasing but has health benefits too.', says Debbie Leigh, Design Manager, ILIV.

'Any chair that you spend a length of time in should support the natural curve of your spine, if your chair does not have good lumbar support, it is wise to add a cushion between your lower back and the chair for comfort and posture support.'

13. Choose flooring that blocks out noise

Luxury tile flooring in home office with red walls by Amtico

(Image credit: Amtico)

Whether you're dragging heavy furniture in and out of your home office, want something comfortable underfoot, or need to cancel out noise, it's important to consider the different types of flooring materials available carefully. 

Cheap, cheerful and stylish, some of the latest vinyl flooring designs are miles ahead of lino and laminate options. This durable surface is hard to scratch or mark and beverage spillages are a breeze to clean up.

'Some luxury vinyl tile flooring products come with an acoustic backing on them that really help to absorb sound.', says Thomas.

'I recommend Amtico for this. You pay slightly more per square metre to have the acoustic backing, but it really makes a difference.'

14. Consider multiple sources of light to avoid eye strain

Carpetright Condo Baroque Carpet In Blue in navy office with black and gold lamps

(Image credit: Carpetright)

Whether you've light or dark colored home office decor, lighting is an essential element to any good workspace to allow you to concentrate on your duties without compromising your eye health.

If you find yourself straining or discover one day that your current glasses prescription isn't doing its job as well as it should, it's always best to seek medical advice - but a lack of lighting could be the problem.

'Finding functional office lighting that sits with the home’s interior décor can be a challenge, a lot can be cold and clinical.', says Sara Dawson, founder of The House Office.

'As well as illuminating a workspace, the perfect lighting scheme can actually help boost productivity and keep workers engaged with the task at hand.'

'The right lighting contributes towards a positive environment which can even help workers feel happier at work.'

15. Small or large, declutter your space to think clearly

Danish interior design

(Image credit: Argos)

'Small spaces can be difficult, but being short on space does not mean one is short on efficiency.', says Taylor.

'Tidy away clutter and tuck things away to avoid messy areas. Use stress-busting soft blue paints and wallpapers to help soothe a space, making it feel light, airy and perfect for productivity.'

While Richard Petrie, interior expert at Thomas Sanderson takes his inspiration from the Orient. He says: 'Japanese design is clean and minimalist, the trick to replicate this is to keep things simple with clean lines, neutral colors and no clutter.'

'A good question to ask yourself when reviewing your own space is does this item have a place and a purpose.'

16. Add soft furnishings for comfort and noise reduction

Safari Lamp €150, Weaver Throw in Rust €40, Wick & Wish Diffuser, Stockholm Chair, Stockholm Desk in home office by Harvey Norman

(Image credit: Harvey Norman)

Finding the right temperature in your home can be tricky. Just as the office temperature is suited to men, a temperate climate when both of you are working can often be a battle of the sexes

But if you haven't got a hot water bottle to hand, or another cup of coffee will give you the shakes, enrobe yourself soft furnishings such as fleece throws and blankets. They can also block out audio distractions you may have, be in garbage day or your neighbors carrying out home improvements next door.

'Incorporate as many soft furnishings as possible as these absorb the sound.', says Katie Thomas, founder of interior design company, KTM Design.

'A rug is an obvious choice, but be careful if you have a swivel desk chair or a chair on wheels as it can become impractical.'

17. Create an endorphin-boosting WFH playlist

Yellow home office environment with headphones by Homesense

(Image credit: Homesense)

There's nothing like a bit of music to tap your pen to or get you in the zone, ready for work (or the weekend), so put on that radio, Spotify playlist or plug in that AUX cable. to increase your productivity in your home office.

‘Listening to music is known to be a great way to improve a person’s mood,’ explains Cal Lee, head of International co-working space, Workthere.

‘There are also many reports revealing how music is often used within psychotherapy to help relieve anxiety and stress.'

'So its no surprise that music within a workplace setting can have a huge impact on an employees’ mindset and productivity.’

18. Make space to stretch

Ercol Ballatta Desk in home office environment by Furniture Village

(Image credit: Furniture Village)

While dancing in your home office is completely optional, moving about in your home office can allow you to be more comfortable and productive. So don't be afraid to shake a leg.

Singh says: 'Changing position throughout the day is essential for our wellbeing, whether that’s alternating between sitting and standing or deciding to take a call on a walk.'

'I’d recommend alternating between sitting and standing every 30 minutes or so if you can.'

19. Invest in an aquarium and fish for a serene scheme

biOrb aquarium by OASE in home office idea

(Image credit: OASE)

'An aquarium provides a welcome distraction from office life, it can contribute to a calming ambiance and improve your mood, whilst creating a stunning focal point.', says Patrick Inwards, biOrb brand manager - Oase UK Ltd.

'The water and aquatic life allows you to feel connected to nature whilst the ebb and flow of the fish and the water help relax the mind and put you at ease, which in turn helps concentration and reduces stress.'

But if you're worried about the fish waste and cleaning the tank, why not opt for a low-maintenance solution in your home office?

Available internationally, the oase biorb balance is a fuss-free fixture that has 200 ornaments and accessories to choose from so the design possibilities are endless. 15 minutes a month is all it takes to look after your pets and tank.

How do I set home office for maximum productivity?

'A work space should be a place of inspiration so do whatever it takes to get those creative juices flowing.', says Taylor.

'Frame funky wallpaper or treasured pieces of artwork against buttery tones to increase positive associations and dot the area with favorite colors, patterns and prints.'

'If you prefer a more natural aesthetic, neutral tones like taupe or sand create a great backdrop for plants, terracotta pots and ceramics.'

Jackie Desk, £875, Hugo Chair, £695, Andrew Martin,

(Image credit: Andrew Martin)

How do I make my home office comfortable?

'A home office must be designed as a space to induce thought. It wants to have crisp, clear lines, comfort and creative inspiration by way of artwork or patterned wallpaper.', says Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin.

'A desk light is a good way to add style and design-led angles to an office as well as being imperative for spot lighting.'

'A chair has to be comfortable, but it is important to get the level of comfort right. A leather armchair for example would fit in a library feel, acting as a sanctuary to read and reflect, where an upright swivel chair suits written desk work.'

'And do not be condemned to a black foam seat, go for a chair in mid-century velvet upholstery or a cantilever with interesting lines.' 

Christina Chrysostomou
Former acting head ecommerce editor

Hi, I'm the former acting head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a first class degree from Keele University, and a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket and have gone through the internal customer advisor accreditation process.