In the past 6+ months, we’ve helped countless customers make work-from-home spaces that are stylish and functional. And we’re not just talking formal home offices but also temporary-turned-semi-permanent spaces, dining room offices, multipurpose workspaces, and home offices with two desks.
Our expert interior designers are pros at putting together home office design ideas and creating spaces that look good and give each customer just what they need. But along the way, they’ve also seen plenty of home office mistakes that they’ve helped to remedy. Today, our designers are sharing the most common home office design mistakes they’ve seen along the way and how to fix them!
The Mistake: Not Enough Lighting
It’s an easy mistake to make when you’re used to working in a cubicle with no windows and only fluorescent lighting as far as the eye can see. But in a home office, there’s no reason why you can’t make your lighting exactly what you need it to be!
The Fix: Layered Lighting and Good Natural Light
If possible, place your desk next to a window for a flood of natural light. That sunlight will not only light up your space but might just boost your mood, too! Then, for gloomy days (or if you aren’t able to put your desk near a window) incorporate layered lighting in your workspace. Start with a task lamp, but consider a floor lamp in the corner or an overhead pendant light for extra lighting and ambiance.
“Not having enough lighting or access to a view of the outdoors is a big mistake people make in their home offices. Good natural lighting can dramatically increase your mood and productivity. Plus, no one wants to work in a dark cave!” –Victoria M, Modsy DesignerShop This Look
The Mistake: Cramming a Workspace into Too Small of a Space
We’re more than six months into working from home, so it’s time to graduate from your temporary workspace if you haven’t already. There’s no reason to stay crammed in a corner or at a makeshift desk!
The Fix: Give Yourself Space to Breathe
Find space in your home where you can have a more permanent workspace and some room to breathe. And invest in some real home office furniture! And set it up as if you’re going to stay a while with some personalization!
“Too many people squeeze a workspace into a tiny corner or forever use a makeshift desk. Stop that! Give yourself some space to breathe, think, and create by making your WFH set-up by a window or in a roomy area. Then, add some plants, candles, art, or whatever makes you feel inspired. Make it a dedicated space for productivity, even if it has to double as a space for eating or relaxing when you’re not working!” –Katie W, Modsy DesignerShop This Look
The Mistake: Being Disorganized
Some people are naturally disorganized and some people simply end up that way because of how crazy life is right now. But a cluttered workspace leads to a cluttered mind!
The Fix: Using Organizational Tools
Make sure your home office has the organizational tools you need to keep things in order. Invest in a file cabinet for all your paperwork, or use memento boxes on a floating shelf or bookcase for storage of notebooks or other office supplies. Or keep a basket or two nearby to stash electronics and snacks! Essentially, give everything a place, so you don’t have to spend your precious time organizing and reorganizing. Rather, at the end of the day just take two minutes to return everything to its place so you start the next day with a tidy desk!
Need help finding the right storage solution for you? Check out our complete guide to the best storage furniture.
“I’ve seen a lot of disorganized home offices. But if your things have a designated spot, then it’s easier to work and be productive—and doesn’t require spending time cleaning up a mess of papers or playing catch up. Also, some greenery and a seasonal candle really set the work from home ambiance and lifts morale!” –Jessica M, Modsy DesignerShop This Look
The Mistake: A Sterile Workspace
A sterile, undecorated workspace won’t do anything to make you happy or inspired to start work each day. You’re working from home—so there’s no reason why you can’t bring some personality to your space!
The Fix: Personalizing Your Space
You spend a lot of time at your desk—so why not personalize your workspace? Bring in family photos, favorite artwork, or any other and moments of joy that will inspire you. Create a space where you enjoy spending time every day.
“Too often, people forget to personalize their space. If you don’t decorate your desk area to reflect you, you won’t enjoy sitting there every day and all day!” –Katelin S, Modsy DesignerShop This Look
The Mistake: Forgetting About Your Video Call Background
Some people do think to personalize the desk in front of them—but they totally forget to design the space behind them. But, with endless days of video calls, it’s worth it to consider the background that your co-workers are staring at during calls. You don’t want it to be distracting, but it’s also not ideal if it’s totally bare.
The Fix: A Simple But Beautiful Backdrop
Set your desk up at an angle where your face can be well lit by the natural light in the room, and supplement with a lamp or overhead light as needed. On the wall behind you, hang a simple print or painting, or a bookcase with simple but beautiful styling!
“Not taking the background into consideration, especially for video calls. You want to make sure it’s not distracting for yourself or your colleagues while you’re on the call.” –Jenny F, Modsy Designer
“Views are so, so important! Not only what you look at all day, but also what your coworkers look at in video calls behind you! I always make sure to design home offices in a way that allows my client to look out a window (if the view out there is worth it!) and has a simple yet beautiful wall behind them (make a fun accent wall back there!) to really wow their coworkers during meetings.” –Becky S, Modsy DesignerShop This Look
The Mistake: An Uncomfortable Space
Whether it’s a desk chair that’s too hard or the wrong height, a room that’s too cold (visually or literally), or you’ve set up a replica of your cubicle at home, too many people settle for an uncomfortable home office.
The Fix: Make It Comfy and Cozy
Celebrate the fact that you aren’t working in a cubicle by painting your walls, hanging up some artwork, and investing in a comfortable chair and desk that you love. Consider layering a rug beneath your set-up and adding in a plant or two to bring some color and life to the space. Whatever it takes for a cozier, more comfortable set-up!
Get inspired by these office color schemes.
“Your home doesn’t need to look like a corporate office or board room. It depends on the person, but I love an office that looks like a comfy, cozy living room. It reminds me that we all need to be comfortable and it’s reflective of the fact that we’re actually living in these spaces, too. A home office can be warm, fluffy, and an extension of the style of the rest of your home. It doesn’t need to have a more ‘serious’ work feel.” –Michal G, Modsy DesignerShop This Look
The Mistake: Bad Seating
If your back hurts at the end of every workday, you’re doing something wrong. Stop ignoring ergonomics—whether that’s an uncomfortable chair, a table that’s too tall or too short for your chair, or a combination of the two.
Get the scoop on our favorite budget-friendly home office chairs!
The Fix: Investing in an Ergonomic and Comfortable Chair
Even if you don’t have space for a formal home office, you can certainly get an ergonomic and comfortable chair to sit in each day. Find one with an adjustable height, so you can get it just right for the height of the table or desk from which you’re working. Bonus points if it has lumbar support!
“Too many people are living every day without ergonomic equipment and a comfortable chair!” –Shelly S, Modsy DesignerShop This Look
The Mistake: A Distracting Space
You can’t work efficiently if you’re in a loud or cluttered space. Distractions keep us from doing our best work.
The Fix: A Quiet, Distraction-Free Work Zone
If at all possible, set up your home office in a place where you have a door you can shut. Not only is this helpful for video calls, but it will give you at least a bit of uninterrupted time to focus on work. If that’s not possible, at least make sure your area is free of clutter and as many distractions as you can cut out.
“Most people underestimate having a space that is quiet and uncluttered while working from home. Noise and too many items around are definitely distractions.” –Samara W, Modsy DesignerShop This Look
Need help fixing your home office mistakes?