Ingenious Ideas for Fitting in a Small Workspace


Working from home is kind of the ultimate dream. You can wear your pajamas all day if you want, you never have to pack a lunch and the commute couldn’t be better. The only issue is whether you have a solid workspace or not, because I think productivity does depend somewhat on your surroundings. The good news is that even if you don’t have a full room to dedicate to an office, there are plenty of smart ways to sneak a hidden workspace into your home.

Above: This unfolding apartment by Michael K Chen Architecture has made its rounds on the web, but I feel like it’s worth taking a look at. It’s a hidden bedroom, closet, nightstand and desk all in one, which is pretty remarkable. Oh, the things you can do (and clutter you can conceal) when you start from scratch and commission an insane built-in.

The murphy desk might be my favorite solution, especially when it looks as chic as this wooden drop-down style from Architectural Digest. Who knew these came outfitted with wall-mounted shelving inside? A more practical person might stash office supplies here, but I’m okay with these tasteful vases and sculptural objects, too. Lighting is key for any work area, so it was a smart idea to add a sconce above. It can provide task light when you’re working and illuminate your pretty cabinet when not. My guess is the occupant pulls a chair from a nearby dining table, which is totally acceptable. Saves you from having to buy a special office chair.

I’m not totally sure how “hidden” a built-in actually is (okay, it’s not at all), but this little desk area from the home of the Schoolhouse Electric owners (via Emily Henderson) sure is an efficient use of space. Even though the back wall is covered in dark shiplap, the white cabinetry keeps the look visually light. Props again for thinking about the lighting situation and adding in those sconces, but a table lamp would also do the trick.

Full disclosure: the hiding your desk area behind a set of huge doors idea comes from a super swanky industrial Tribeca home designed by Dirk Denison Architects. But imagine replacing what appears to be heavy-duty steel sliding doors with a barn door, and you have a relatively inexpensive way to DIY a super private, quiet workspace. From the looks of it, your home probably needs some kind of a niche, corner or half wall to pull this off.

One idea that practically anyone can steal is the closet-turned-home-office. It’s amazing because you already have the door that’ll be hiding your workspace. So it’s just a matter of removing the clothes bar and setting things up to your liking by adding shelves and a surface for a desk. You could do this with a bigger closet, but from the looks of this cheery set up from Bourbon Daisy, even a small linen or hall closet would work if you MacGuyver a drop-down desk.

Remember appliance garages? This workspace from Kropat Interior Design has taken that concept and really run with it. The perforated door may even be a real garage door brought inside—very industrial but also very creative.

When in doubt, you could always build a faux wall and hide your desk behind that if you’re super committed to fitting in a home office (and own your home). The Hong Kong-based Clifton Leung Design Workshop did a nice job in this small space apartment, where the living room TV wall reverses to a desk. Talk about a wow factor, even if the wall isn’t motorized.

Time to stop working from your couch. Trust me—any of these offices would be an upgrade. Here’s to hoping I can practice what I preach.

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