How to fit a desk into a small office without feeling cramped

We've got the best ways to fit a desk into a small office if you're struggling to make your workspace functional

Small desk with green office chair
(Image credit: Article)

Trying to fit a desk into a small office may seem like a challenge but it can actually be pretty easy with some helpful tips. Decorating this room requires a lot of intentional design choices, starting with your desk. 

No matter if your home office exists in your bedroom, living room, or a designated space, fitting your desk into your small office can make or break the layout. It can be tough when all you have to work with is a closet or makeshift workspace, but rest assured — it can be done. 

Below, you'll find plenty of small office ideas to try out in your home to maximize functionality and productivity. Check out our expert advice for fitting a desk into small office spaces, ahead. 

How to fit a desk into a small office

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Whether you’re working with a small closet or a bedroom office, choosing the right desk for your space is ultra-important. Not only do you want to ensure that your desk is functional and serves your needs — or else you might not even use it as much as you intend — but you also want to make sure it doesn’t overpower your space and leave the area feeling overwhelmed with office clutter and full of heavy furniture. 

1. Measure your space more than once

Small desk in bedroom

(Image credit: Article)

It may seem obvious but the first thing to consider when fitting a desk into a small office is the size of the space you're working with. Make sure you use a measuring tape (you can pick up this handy measuring tape from Amazon with over 14k reviews if you don't have one) and measure the dimensions of the room more than once. Write down the exact sizes before looking at where to buy furniture online.

Writing desks come in all different sizes and widths. If you have more wiggle room in the length but not the width, it’s worth looking for desks with slimmer tabletop surfaces, like this Ameriwood desk available on Amazon, so that you maximize your space. This is also true for office spaces with not a lot of horizontal space. 

2. Avoid bulky furniture

Sleek desk with shelves and white office chair

(Image credit: Article)

First and foremost, avoid bulky furniture when trying to fit a desk into a small office. This includes heavy desks with thick cabinets for legs and even some styles with waterfall edges. Instead, stick to the best furniture for small spaces.

Opt for lightweight (yet durable) designs that utilize storage in a smart and functional way, like this sleek white Threshold desk from Target. If you have vertical space above your desk for shelving, it’s also worth looking at desks without drawers to create a more lightweight look while finding another solution for storage. You can install some floating shelves above your desk, like these acrylic ones available on Amazon, to create more room for books, papers, and whatever else you need.

When choosing your desk, Shivani Vyas, a residential interior designer and the owner of Studio Vyas in Macon, GA., says to look for “flexible desks that free up your horizontal real estate while maximizing function.”

Shivani Vyas

Shivani Vyas is a residential interior designer and the owner of Studio Vyas in Macon, GA. 

3. Go for a writing desk

Wooden desk with industrial chair

(Image credit: West Elm)

Writing desks, like this minimal Threshold desk from Target, are one of the best ways to fit a desk in a small space. These types of desks don’t have as much room to spread out and work particularly well for those who only use a laptop in their work setup. 

Many writing desks also feature smart and functional storage, either through a built-in cubby or a slim drawer for storing notebooks and other office supplies essentials. You'll also want to utilize a desk organizer to help maintain any clutter.

 "Writing desks are a great solution in a small office because they're minimal but still provide some storage for essentials," says Lucy Searle, Content Director, Real Homes.

Lucy Searle
Lucy Searle

Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property, and gardens for over 30 years, starting within the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-1990s. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she also took on the editorship of the magazine. Lucy is now Content Director across Homes & Gardens, Woman & Home, Real Homes, and Ideal Home. Lucy is a serial renovator and also owns rental properties in the UK and Europe, so brings first-hand knowledge to the subjects she oversees.

4. Look for versatility

Wooden desk with laptop and water glasses on top

(Image credit: Article)

You're going to want to look for a desk that can do it all. If you're cramming a desk into a small room, it should serve more than one purpose so you can use it for things other than work. 

If you're using a small bedroom desk, you'll want to use it as a place to get ready in the morning and store makeup and skincare. If you're set up in the living room, use your desk as a reading nook and a place for a living room bookshelf.

5. Try a corner desk

White corner desk with computer and books

(Image credit: Amazon)

Utilizing a corner desk is a great way to fill up an awkward space in a small room. It's a part of the room that wouldn't be used otherwise and it keeps your biggest furniture out of the way so there's a better flow to the room. 

The best corner desks come in all shapes and sizes so you're sure to find something that can work for your home office. This crafty corner desk available on Amazon even comes with hidden storage underneath so you'll have plenty of room for all your office essentials.

6. Ensure your desk and office chair compliment each other

Small wooden desk with white desk chair

(Image credit: Article)

When choosing your desk and office chair, ensure that both of them pair well together and create a balanced look. Pairing a bulky chair with a lightweight desk (or vice versa) can make your space feel overcrowded and throw off the overall proportions. 

Take some time to shop for just the right chair that will match your desk and won't stick out too much. If you're worried that an ergonomic won't look very attractive, we found plenty of Amazon office chairs that look just as great as they feel. Our favorite is this plush white office chair from Amazon which looks pretty sophisticated but provides plenty of support with thick padding.

Best small office desks


What do I do if my desk is too small?

If your desk is too small, interior designers Leonardo and Marzia Dainelli recommend having a storage space, such as a small chest of drawers, like this white filing cabinet available from Wayfair, to store under the desk or a shelf if you don’t have the space for floor storage.

Vyas also recommends taking advantage of that vertical space, whether that means incorporating open shelving (like these floating shelves from Wayfair), tall cabinetry, or floating furniture like wall-mounted nightstands and media units. 

“Also, try adding storage ottomans — these handy furniture pieces come in a variety of shapes and sizes,” she adds, noting that you can easily tuck these under a desk or coffee table to save on space in a small office. 

Leonardo and Marzia Dainelli

Leonardo and Marzia Dainelli are interior designers and founders of Dainelli Studio, a high-end interior and product design studio based in Milan.

Should I put a desk in front of a window?

“Natural light is important for increasing productivity and a good mood,” the Dainellis explain. That being said, they note that direct light can cause some issues with your monitors and might make it harder to see your work. 

If placing a desk in front of a window is the only option, they recommend installing curtains to help give you some control over the lighting throughout the day. 

When choosing a desk for a small office space, consider smaller and more lightweight options — such as a writing desk — to keep things functional without overcrowding your room. 

It’s also worth considering your storage options and whether or not vertical storage, like our favorite renter-friendly shelving, is an option for you, as this can free up a lot of horizontal space and make your desk setup look less bulky. 

No matter if you have a separate office room or are creating a desk setup in your bedroom, also look for desk chairs, like our best office chairs, that complement your furniture and help create a cohesive and proportionate office setup. 

Jessie Quinn
Freelance Writer

Jessie Quinn is a lifestyle writer with words published in The Spruce, Byrdie, Well + Good, Shape, PEOPLE, and more. Jessie has a Bachelor's Degree in Fashion Journalism from Academy of Art University and leans on her background in fashion to inspire readers to hone their personal decor style as if it's their wardrobe. When she's not writing, Jessie can be found browsing the aisles of her local antique stores, creating DIY home decor projects, and taking care of her dozens of houseplants. Her eclectic decor style balances vintage, modern, and artisanal pieces that reflect her artsy style and love for handmade goods.