From furniture arrangements to the best desks to use, interior designers share their advice for making use of what remaining space you have.

By Caroline Biggs
November 10, 2020

With so many of people working from home right now, we've all come to understand the importance of creating a designated workstation. Unfortunately, a full-fledged home office isn't always possible, and even just incorporating a proper desk into another room might not be a simple feat, particularly for those living in an apartment or smaller home. "Overcrowding the room is definitely a concern when adding a desk to a small living space," says Molly Torres Portnof of DATE Interiors. "Desk size, placement, and overall furniture arrangement are key to making this work."

light brown wooden desk and chair set office space with various plants
Credit: Getty / Lumina Images

Along with finding the right space to place a desk in a small living area, Abbe Fenimore of Studio Ten 25 says that purchasing a desk that will work with the rest of the furniture in your home is key. "There are so many stylish desks and tables to choose from, so opt for a piece that matches your aesthetic and prevents the desk from looking like an eyesore." Interested in learning more about how to add a desk to a small living space? We asked a few interior designers to share their advice, and this is what they had to say.

Place a desk behind your sofa.

If you live in a studio apartment or a home with an open layout plan, Fenimore suggests integrating a desk behind your living room sofa. "It will double as a workspace and sofa table after work hours," she explains. "Incorporate a desk with storage in order to hide work items once the day is done. Not only will this save you some space, but it adds necessary function without requiring additional pieces of furniture."

Try out an L-shaped option.

Is there empty or under-utilized corner in your living room? Michelle Zacks says to consider an L-shaped corner desk for the area. "If you're handy (or know a handy person), you can also DIY a similarly shaped desk by mounting pre-made shelves directly to the wall with brackets," she says. "If you're extra tight on space, consider using a small stool or ottoman instead of an office chair—things you can fully push under the desk when it's not in use."

Opt for a bookshelf style.

According to Portnof, bookshelf desks are a foolproof way incorporate a full-sized desk into another room. "If you have a bookshelf already incorporated into your living space design, think about swapping it out for a bookshelf desk to make it more functional," she says.

Try a bedside desk.

If you thought there was no way to carve out a proper workstation in a small bedroom, Zacks says you're mistaken. "You can use a clean-lined writing desk as a bedside table so it doubles as a nightstand and a workspace," she explains. "It can actually look incredibly chic, especially when paired with a beautiful chair and table lamp."

Use windows and mirrors to create the illusion of a larger space.

When integrating a desk into a small living space, Fenimore suggests using décor elements to make the area appear more expansive than it really is. "In small spaces, I love to incorporate a desk by the window, especially if there's a beautiful view," she explains. "If you don't have much natural light, lean a large floor mirror behind your desk to create a more bright and open workspace."


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