Even after the pandemic, remote work from home is here to stay. Working from home for seven years already, Kasia Rutkowiak shares her best tips for designing a functional home office in a small space.
“WORKING FROM HOME can be a great thing, but also a great challenge. Many of us had to learn a completely new skill when the pandemic hit. We’ve been sent home to work remotely and had to redefine the life-work balance once again.
I was one of the lucky ones, as I’ve been working from home ever since 2014. That made me a go-to person for many of my friends who were only starting their remote work adventure. They would write and call with questions, related to different aspects of working from home. And as many of them anticipated that the change would last longer than just a few months, they often asked how to arrange a workspace in an apartment where there is no separate room for home office and what are my go-to tips to make it both functional and nice to look at.
I have gathered a few tips that I hope some of you will find useful when arranging a working station in the middle of it all. These are all things I’ve done and tested for the past 7 years, and they work great. And regardless of what you decide to add or omit, just make sure to make this space feel yours. That’s perhaps, the most important tip of all.”
Tips for a functional home office:
1. Find an empty wall
If you don’t have a separate room, find a single wall that you can dedicate to arrange a shelf unit with a desk. Mine is in the living room because that’s the only one I could get. In the past, I have used the String Furniture units that I liked a lot, and after a while, I went with Moebe. Both solutions are highly recommended. Again, it might not be a perfect choice – after all, I’d love to have a full-sized desk – but it works great in smaller homes. Pro tip: go with white or light wood. It gives you at least a few more days in between dusting.
2. Add closed units
Make sure to add some closed units to your shelving solution. The less organized you are, the more doors and drawers you need. For me, it took some practice to organize the open space and it is a challenge if you’re not super neat. Luckily, with doors and drawers, some things can be hidden, and as for the rest, you will learn as you go.
“The less organized you are, the more doors and drawers you need.”
3. Don’t save on sitting
Choose a chair that is ergonomic, adjustable, easy to clean, and – if possible – with a swivel base. There are many possibilities to choose from and you do not want to compromise on this one, I promise. In most cases, your normal dining chair won’t be a good choice.
4. Stationery matters
Invest in good-looking stationery. From now on, the pencils and notebooks won’t only serve practical, but also decorative purposes.
• All stationery >
5. Add some green life
It has been proven that plants positively influence our mood. If you are good with plants, choosing them won’t be a problem. If not, make sure to learn something about what a particular plant needs prior to purchasing. And remember that not all flower pots are equally great – the best ones for most plants and home-gardeners are those with a hole in the bottom and a saucer. Just remember to be careful when watering so that you won’t accidentally get your shelves, documents or computer wet.
“It has been proven that plants positively influence our mood.”
6. Small storage solutions
Especially (but not only) if you need help with getting things looking orderly, invest in small storage solutions for your bits and pieces. You can go with smaller and bigger jars or cups. A nice-looking utensil wall organizer is great, too. Hint: if you ever decide that you don’t need it in the office anymore, it can serve you (or your kids) in so many more ways. Win-win.
7. Utilize boxes
If you still lack doors and drawers, use boxes. Such an easy way to store papers or smaller things away in a nice and clean-looking manner.
8. Add decorative items
Although the main characteristic of a workspace should be its functionality, it won’t hurt to make it look good too. Apart from nice stationery and other strictly useful things, I like adding some other, more decorative items such as sculptural candleholders or vases, wooden animals and – of course – fresh flowers.
“A workspace should be functional, but it won’t hurt to make it look good too.”
9. Space for coffee
Two last things I always have near me in my home office are some kind of a tray and a cup of coffee. The first one makes things look a lot more polished and can be used for just about anything, and the second one I just can’t live without.
• All cups & mugs >
Kasia Rutkowiak is a Polish-born freelance interior stylist, photographer, and writer of the Scandinavian interior and lifestyle blog My Full House, which has followers and readers from all around the world. She is a mother to three Danish-born children and has lived for over twelve years on the island of Bornholm in Denmark. Currently, she resides in Warsaw, Poland.
Text and photos: Kasia Rutkowiak