Small home offices: 10 big design ideas

Think outside the box and get the most from your home office space with these tidy tips and small home office design ideas

Home office in living room by Ikea
(Image credit: Skandium)

Home offices are growing in popularity thanks to flexible working practices and the stylish spaces we seen on Instagram and Pinterest. But not all of us have oodles of room for a dedicated office. That doesn't mean you can't work a small home office into your home. 

Our stylish ideas for home offices that are perfect if you are short on space will get you started – use our guide to designing a home office to create your perfect study, too.

1. No office, no problem: create an office 'zone'

Turn an area of your living room, guest bedroom or hallway into a low-key office using simple home office storage and an attractive office desk. You can get desks in every size and style, so it is not hard to find unobtrusive office furniture that will match your room and your existing furnishings.

Ikea desk in an office space of a living room

This living space from Ikea features a compact desk that neatly fits in an office zone behind the sofa

(Image credit: Ikea)

2. Think dual purpose

When space is at a premium, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to be able to dedicate a whole room to a home office, so it’s worth thinking about how you can create multiple uses for your space. Here, it's achieved with a Mid-century style desk in a vintage-feel bedroom – the perfect homework spot.

Pale pink mid-century inspired office

(Image credit:

Guest bedrooms are great place to start as they are frequented less often. You could add a small desk and sleek chair that won’t be obtrusive should you have guests come to stay. Add shelves above the desk area, and invest in some matching storage files to keep your work materials organised and avoid any embarrassment should you have any surprise visitors.

When it comes to multi-purpose furniture, a desk could easily double as a dressing table in a master suite with the addition of a freestanding mirror.

3. Choose a storage wall unit

This is another great option for multifunctional spaces. Fill a wall with modular shelving including a desk. To make the space feel less utilitarian, keep office supplies in pretty storage boxes, and use the shelves to display your favourite possessions too.

String mid-century modern office

This String home office combination is available at Skandium

(Image credit: John Lewis)

4. Opt for a loft bed 

Space is often tight in children's bedrooms. Save floorspace by using the area under a bunk bed for a desk. It is the perfect place for a homework station.

Stuva loft bed combo with desk 3 drawers and 2 doors

The Stuva bed, desk and storage combo from Ikea can be configured in many ways as the desk can be moved

(Image credit: Ikea)

5. Underused spaces – think outside ‘four walls’ 

No one said that home offices had to be self contained spaces. Thinking outside of the four walls concept, if you have any wasted space (under stairs, large landings, hallways, kitchens or dining rooms), this could be the ideal place for your home office. You could even consider using paint, flooring or rugs to zone the different elements of the space so it feels more intentional than makeshift.

Find more clever uses for your under stairs space.

home office in unused corner space

Use compact, flexible elements to convert your space with a drop-down desk that needs no leg room and minimal wall space. Pair with an adjustable chair and modular, freestanding storage for the perfect compact home office 

(Image credit: -)

6. The alcove office

Alcoves are another commonly underused space. Sometimes too small for a wardrobe, TV stand or chest of drawers, if you can't squeeze in a small desk, you can easily use the walls to support a work surface and create an alcove office.

Create an alcove office

Use the full height of the space by fitting shelves and cupboards above the desk.

home office in small London flat

(Image credit: -)

7. Consider hideaway options

If you don’t want your home office area to be visible 24/7, then consider what you can create behind closed doors. This hideaway approach will be a bespoke option, but it would be perfect for those who hate clutter, or those who only occasionally need a home office set-up, and will help maintain the clean lines of contemporary spaces. 

A hidden office in a cupboard with shelves from Elfa

Shut the clutter away at the end of the working day with a hidden office space like this set up from Elfa

(Image credit: Elfa)

8. Create an 'invisible' office in an open-plan room

If you want your home office space to be unobtrusive, a glass desk is a great option that will seemingly disappear when not in use. You could paint your desk or use coloured or patterned contact paper (there are some great marble-effect contact papers available) to give your desk an individual look that complements your existing decor. Spray paint is also a great way to ensure any new home office elements work with your existing space.

Home office in listed cottage

Glass desks are perfect for those looking for an unobtrusive look, as seen in this cottage renovation

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

9. Go for a slimline desk

Plenty of desks incorporate storage, but in a small space you will want to find a slimline one which doesn't dominate the space. Go for a console desk with shallow desks right under the table top, or pillar storage in place of legs. 

You should also look for cable channels to hide unsightly wires away.

Opt for a slimline desk in a small offiice

(Image credit: Ikea)

10. Or choose a bureau for an all-in-one office

Stick a small bureau in the corner of your bedroom, in the hallway or under the stairs and voila, instant home office. This one from Cotswold Co. has plenty of desk space for a laptop, pigeon holes for storing the essentials, plus a really spacious cupboard underneath. The best part is once you are done working you can fold the desk away to save on even more space. 

(Image credit: Cotswold Co.)

Looking for more home office inspiration?