Your at-home hot desk: How to create a home office in a small space

Need an office that pops up then packs away? Or a working area that fits stylishly into your living space? Here’s how.

The key to planning a home office in a compact space is to think carefully about what would  help you get your tasks done (or those creative juices flowing) and build exactly the work zone to match those needs. Then you just have to figure out a way of squeezing all that in to whatever floor area you can spare.

Wall-mounted desks that drop down when required, then fold up again to occupy as little space as possible, are perfect for tight corners. Floating wall-mounted desks are another option as they free up floor space (Ikea sells a wide selection). Choose one with a cubbyhole or shelf below so that you can store your laptop when not in use. If you’ve got a spare corner in the living or dining area, look for furniture that transforms when office space is required, such as a sideboard that becomes a desk by sliding the top forward, or a chest with a fold-down work surface.

Alternatively, opt for a desktop on trestle legs, which is easy to remove and slide away under a bed or behind a door if you’re planning to have guests round.

Or why not hide your office in a built-in closet? A simple curtain pulled across can conceal your work space, allowing you to roll your chair under the desk when you are done and keep everything out of sight.  If you already have a wall-mounted modular storage system with uprights and brackets, there may be a desk module available. Such systems are ideal for creating a versatile work area that’s tailored to your needs – and they’re great for making the most of every inch of space, too.

Here are a few ideas to get you started…

How to create a home office in a small space

home office in a small space
Slimline furniture gives the illusion of more space because it allows the eye to see through and around it. For a similar desk, try Image: Martina Gammola
home office
Bright spaces are energising and make it easier to focus. Positioning a work area near a window makes the most of natural light. For a similar table lamp, go to Try for a similar chair. Image: Martina Gammola
home desk
Categorise and keep necessary stationery and other essentials within reach – this wall storage unit works particularly well for a child’s desk area as it’s easier for them to tidy up when everything
has its own place. For similar units, try Image:
home office
Creating a desk area in a built-in closet is ideal for when you want to separate yourself from work. At the end of the day simply draw the curtain or close the door. Visit for similar curtains. Image: Martina Gammola
bedroom office
In this bedroom an extension of the wardrobe functions as an office area when needed. By echoing the paint colour and panelled look of the wardrobe, the study nook works seamlessly with the rest of the room. For a similar chair, try and for a pendant light go to Image: Studio FF
Heal's desk
Make your home office part of the décor by choosing colours that work seamlessly together. Here the desk and chair blend in with the surrounding colour palette, allowing the desk accessories to stand out. Desk, £649, and chair, £443, both Image: Heal’s
home office
If you are short on floor space, build upwards. Here wall-mounted shelving functions as part of the desk area and provides an extra storage space for books. Image: Martina Gammola

This is an edited extract from How We Live Now by Rebecca Winward (Ryland Peters & Small, £16.99). To order a copy for £14.95 until 17 January, go to or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £15

Get the look

Smarten up your home-office with these chic space-saving pieces

PegboardPegboard, £215,

Trestle tableTrestle table, £322,

Storage boxesStorage boxes, from £55 for three,

Wall hooksWall hooks, £28 for four,

LockerLocker, £249,

Shelf, £70.95,

CabinetCabinet, £299,

ShelfShelf, £89,

TrunksTrunks, £80 for two,

Table lampTable lamp, £155,

DrawersDrawers, £88,

ChairChair, £498,

Wall storageWall storage, £69,