Home Office Setup Ideas That Won't Cost a Fortune (But Will Improve Your Life)

home office set up ideas
Written by Lily Rogers

As many of us have moved from our workplaces to our homes, we may not have given our new offices the careful thought we could have. A stay-at-home end date remains uncertain for some, and many of us are making a permanent transition, which means the workspaces in our houses have taken on a new important role. 

A subpar home office can lead to back and neck pain, depressed emotions, lack of focus, and strained eyes. But working from home has many perks, and setting your own temperature, lighting, music, and décor are among them. Use these DIY home office tips to optimize your work-from-home area, reimagine items you own into office organization supplies, and make the most out of the space you have.

1. Prioritize Organization

illustration of home office setup

Save your sanity and stay tidy, especially if your work involves small office items and printed documents. Things can get cluttered fast, so when it comes to how to organize a home office make sure every item has a place. Try to use the space available to you in smart ways, especially if room is limited. Having a designated spot for each item will help keep you from feeling like your office is closing in on you.

Repurposing Tips:

  • There are many helpful office organization products, even in unlikely places. Turn a spice rack into an office supplies organizer to keep paperclips, erasers, batteries, mini sticky notes, and other bits and bobs tidy. Spice jars are perfect for small items, and circular rotating racks make for quick access.
  • Any slatted organizer, like dish racks, lid organizers, or magazine racks can stand in for a file sorter to keep piles from collecting around you. Personalize them and add a splash of color with paint.
  • Kitchen utensil trays work just as well for offices supplies like pens, highlighters, rulers, scissors, and wireless earbuds. Keep it on the desktop for easy access or out of sight in a drawer.

2. Stand Up to Work

illustration of man at DIY standing desk

Studies have shown that standing while working helps burn more calories, among other health benefits. Standing desks are a good way to help you stay more alert and keep afternoon slumps at bay. They can also aid circulation as well as prevent back and neck pain if positioned correctly. The ergonomics of a standing desk are pretty straightforward, and you can master them even with a DIY home office desk.

Repurposing Tips:

  • Bolt a wall shelf to the legs of a side table so that it creates a sort of step. Set the whole thing on your desk, use the shelf surface for your mouse and keyboard and the top of the table for your monitor. Instant standing desk!
  • Similarly, you can use stools in various heights or short nesting tables on your desk to create a DIY standing desk with multiple layers. Set your monitor on a higher tier and your keyboard slightly lower. Another method is to stack coffee table books or textbooks on your desk—a taller stack for your monitor and a shorter stack for your keyboard.
  • Keep your knees and feet supported from below with yoga or other gym mats. You can also use a cushioned kitchen mat for added support.

3. Make (Office) Space

illustrated woman working from home office

A separate room to dedicate as an office is not an option for everyone. For those with younger children at home, even if you have a spare room, it may be necessary to work where you can keep an eye on the kids. Also, when it comes to working from home, small apartments may seem limiting, but most can accommodate a home office of some kind.

A corner by a window, the alcove under the stairs, a "junk" closet, an old armoire…there's room for a workspace in unconventional places. You'll be surprised how little square footage you need to make a functional and comfortable office. When it comes to home office ideas for small spaces, consider every nook and corner.

Give yourself that room by putting little-used items in storage. Our contact-free storage process is a safe and easy option to clear the way for the perfect home office.

Repurposing Tips:

  • Clear out a closet and set your desk against its back wall to create a work-only zone. Paint, hang shelves, and add décor for a better-than-a-cubicle dedicated workspace. Hang a wall light in the closet to ensure you're getting adequate light without taking up desk space.
  • Turn part of your living room into your workplace by reimagining built-in cabinets as a desk area or by setting up your desk in a corner that is away from the entertainment center. Try facing a window with your back to the room to create a sense of privacy and focus. For more seclusion, try adding a room divider and use noise-canceling headphones.
  • Think vertical. In smaller spaces, working up is key. Rearrange wall shelves to fit over your desk and place office essentials on them for easy access and to minimize clutter. Don't forget to include touches of décor, too.

4. Add Signs of Life

illustration of man relaxing while working from home at home office

When looking for smart home office space ideas, having a plant or two on your desk or nearby shelf is a nice way to brighten the energy and make your working area more inviting. It's also uplifting to have a colorful bit of design to keep the mood cheery. Don't underestimate the visual impact of living things and soothing or inspirational art.

Repurposing Tips:

  • Use vintage bowls, cups, or other unique containers as charming new planters to keep a small succulent or indoor plant in. Arrange one or two on or near your desk as a natural mood boost.
  • Try your hand at a simple design to paint yourself, choose a postcard you may have lying around, pick favorite drawings your kids made, or make a collage from old magazines to frame. Artful design touches that inject some personality and color make good desk accents. Use one or two at a time and rotate them out to keep things fresh.
  • Salt lamps, candles, and essential oil diffusers are an easy way to instill some calm vibes into your home office. They can help create a chill atmosphere unique to that space, setting it apart from the rest of the house.

5. Play Hooky

woman stiing at organized home office desk

The best home office ideas solve a problem, however small. Cord organization, for instance, may have escaped your plans, but it goes a long way to save your sanity. Small wall hooks are a useful way to keep items close with no clutter.

Repurposing Tips:

  • Keep cords tidy, handy, and hidden on hooks on the inside of a closet or cabinet door, the side of your desk, or other convenient spots out of sight. Clamps, zip ties, and binder clips do the job of keeping cords in order, too.
  • Use adhesive hooks as wall mounts for tablets and other electronic devices for convenient use without taking up desk space.
  • Instead of hanging individual organizing wall units, multiple hooks on a single bar (like a towel rack) can hold baskets, scissors, and other items with minimal damage to your walls.

6. Coordinate Your Comfort

illustration of man at comfortable home office desk

Without an ergonomics professional or interior designer on hand, your comfort and aesthetics are up to you. Don't negate these! You'll feel better both physically and emotionally when you have a space that suits your needs and feels cohesive.  

Repurposing Tips:

  • You can keep the design of your desk area uniform with a little paint. Turn mason jars, cans, vases, and glasses into a matching desk organizer set with paint, decorative tape, stencils, and/or fabric details. Coordinated colors or patterns (or thoughtfully clashing prints) help add a purposeful look to the space.
  • Bring some comfort items from other areas of the house—like a decorative pillow for your desk chair and a complementing throw blanket for added coziness.
  • Pick colors that make you feel happy and energized to decorate your workspace with. Chances are you already own items in your preferred color family, but you can refurbish old items to fit a new color scheme. Use fabric dyes, spray paint, and other materials. If your office faces a wall, consider painting the backdrop a different color from the rest of the room in a shade you love to set it apart.

If you want to know how to organize a home office, use some of these simple tips. It doesn't take a room overhaul or a remodel to create a space that makes working from home just right for you.

About the author

Lily Rogers

Lily is a writer, editor, and content strategist. Her curiosity spans genre, from travel to pop culture to food, and she writes about all that and more. She's also a social introvert, literature nerd, and (slight) hoarder. When not in pursuit of her next adventure, she's most likely at home with her wife and two cats.

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