Neutral small office ideas to create a calming aesthetic

If you're feeling stressed, these neutral small office ideas will help you get your zen on

White chair and wooden desk in neutral room
(Image credit: Article)

Embrace some neutral small office ideas to make your workspace more calm and serene. Sticking with neutral colors and design choices is especially great for smaller spaces because it opens up the room and takes advantage of the space without over-cluttering. 

Keeping a light and bright neutral workspace can help with motivation and productivity as well as look good. Plus, if you're in a rental and stuck with neutral features, this decor will complement the environment perfectly. 

We spoke to design experts to get all the best small office ideas to give your workspace a makeover. These neutral decor additions will match just about any design style or preference.


8 neutral small office ideas

When creating your workspace, keeping things neutral can create a lighter and calmer environment. Whether you’re working with a small bedroom office or looking for ways to transform a section of your living room into a workspace, we share the best neutral small office ideas. Plus, expert insight on how to design your space to make it functional and stylish.

1. Mix natural wood and white

Wood and white office furniture

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Instead of going with an all-white look, combine natural wood finishes with white furniture and accents for an elevated neutral small office. This adds more dimension and warmth to your space. If you're using a real wooden desk, like this writing desk from Target, just remember to keep your wood clean and polished for the best result.

Plus, you can draw inspiration from the wood color when choosing accents and storage items like woven baskets, vases, and even rugs. This gorgeous Threshold decorative cane basket from Target would look gorgeous with any neutral desk.

"Natural materials like wood and rattan really compliment neutral colors like cream and beige, no matter what room they are in," 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.

2. Add wainscoting to the walls

White wall with molding

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When working with a neutral color palette, you can keep things minimalistic by adding texture to your wall instead of wall art or decor vignettes. 

Wainscoting is an excellent option because it is sleek and neutral but still adds a little depth to your space. Plus, you can easily DIY wainscoting at home without too much effort. 

Wainscot applications can range from simple in design to intricate installations and range from 34” to 54” in height based on the style of architectural design. 

Regardless of design, you'll find that PVC bead boards, V-groove, and nickel gap options are easy to use and install. Royal PVC trim & moldings are beautiful, durable, and easy to work with.

3. Turn books around


(Image credit: The Container Store)

Books are one of those things people who WFH always have in their office but they can also add color and clutter to your space. When working with a neutral small office, it helps to display the books on a shelf with the pages facing out to minimize the colors and create a more neutral palette. 

This bookshelf idea also works with stacked books on a desktop surface and coffee table, too. Just make sure you're investing in the right bookshelf before getting started. This neutral white bookshelf available on Amazon would look good in just about any office space.

4. Utilize rack shelving

Rack shelving desk

(Image credit: Nathan James)

Keep your design features simple in a neutral small office. Shelving ideas work great for office storage, but they're also a desk solution for a small space. Rack shelving allows you to customize the placement of your shelves for a functional setup that serves your office needs. 

"Rack shelving above a desk is a great solution because you can store all your office essentials while still creating a place for displaying decor items you may already have around the house," says Searle.

Use the space directly above your desk to install the shelves with brackets in a small alcove or nook, using the Boaxel shelving unit from IKEA for ample room for storage.

5. Add plants for a pop of color

Office with plants

(Image credit: Wayfair)

When decorating a neutral small office, houseplants for small spaces are the best way to add pops of color. Greenery also invites the natural world into the office, which can help reduce stress, improve productivity, and is even linked to increased creativity. 

If you don’t have a ton of natural light in your office, you can opt for a faux houseplant or a grow light such as the Aspect™ LED Growlight from Soltech. But don't worry — we found everything you need to know to avoid killing houseplants.

"I absolutely need to have houseplants all around me in my home office," says Emily Lambe, Deputy Editor, Real Homes. "They add so much vibrancy and life to the room, plus they help break up the all-beige look going on in my rental."

Emily Lambe
Emily Lambe

Emily Lambe is the deputy digital editor at Real Homes. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Rochester Institute of Technology and has been writing ever since. Emily writes about all things decor, fragrance, organization, and other home essentials. 

6. Create a monochromatic look

Home office with black wall and white chair

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to add some color but still keep everything neutral, a monochromatic look is a great option.

This is a good solution for small nook offices or even offices built into a closet. You can paint the walls, shelves, and tabletop and then add accent pieces to break up the color a bit. 

Just be sure to avoid the worst paint colors for small spaces to avoid giving yourself a headache. Stay away from bright pure white, vibrant yellows or reds, and really dark tones to make a small room look bigger.

7. Add texture with a faux fur rug

Faux fur rug

(Image credit: Rugs USA)

Neutral small offices can really benefit from some pops of luxe decor. Fun area rugs are a great way to bring different colors and textures into a small office space. 

In a neutral small office, consider something bold without adding color, such as a faux fur sheepskin rug or shag carpet. If you don’t have the space for a full-sized rug, you can also consider adding a small sheepskin throw (such as the IKEA Ullerslev sheepskin) to the back of your desk chair or an office chair. 

Another way to elevate your space is by incorporating natural materials, as warm wood tones and greenery can “make a space feel like it has a pulse,” says Interior Designer, Hannah Kirk

You can also shop our favorite Amazon rugs and the best Target rugs to see the more options and the team's top picks.

Hannah Kirk sitting on white chair
Hannah Kirk

Hannah Kirk is an interior designer and owner of Kirk's. She offers interior design services including home renovations, niche styling and retail store design.

8. Paint a minimalist mural

Modern wall mural

(Image credit: Hovia)

Just because you have a neutral office doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with your design and decor. Pick up some paint in terracotta, like this warm red color from Lick, and tan, like this mid-beige color from Lick, to create a neutral, modern mural for an accent wall. 

You can create one large arch on your desk wall to anchor the tabletop or paint a few arches in alternating colors in a small nook with a potted plant for a calming vignette. 

While this might sound daunting, the good news is that it's not too difficult to design your own DIY mural at home. Just sketch everything out first then add more and more layers slowly.

Best neutral small office buys


How can I make my small office look nice?

“If you’re working with a smaller space, I recommend having fewer items that are larger in scale,” says Kirk. 

“Although it sounds advantageous, having a large desk and one large shelving unit can create more of a grandiose feeling that opens up the room,” she adds. 

What is a neutral color for an office?

According to Kirk, you can’t go wrong by layering beiges, whites, creams, and black. “Black offers a grounding element against the lighter tones and often enhances the crisp, bright room by adding just the right amount of tension,” she explains. 

How do I make my small office cozy?

To cozy up your space, Kirk recommends incorporating natural materials like linen curtains or handwoven rugs. “You can always introduce some imperfect decorative accents — things with an earned patina,” says Kirk. 

She adds that, sometimes, when everything is brand new, it can feel cold and unapproachable, so mixing old and new is key. 

Creating a neutral small office space is about a lot more than just choosing neutral color schemes. In addition to focusing on color, there are several ways to makeover a small office while keeping things neutral. 

You can add texture through rugs and wainscoting, add a pop of color with houseplants, and turn your books around to keep things functional without the added color of their jackets and bindings. 

Additionally, more minimalistic approaches to storage furniture can also lighten up the space and create a more neutral vibe.  

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.