How to Create an Office Space in a Small Living Room

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With remote work becoming more and more popular, creating a functional home office has become even more important. However, not everyone has the luxury of a spare room or a large room to dedicate as an office. The good news is you don’t need a lot of space to create a productive workspace! In this blog post, I’m going to share how to create an office space in a small living room.

The office nook in our Little Lake House living room. Photo by Tracey Jazmin.

When I was redesigning our Little Lake House, I wanted to create a space for our guests to work remotely. With only two bedrooms in the cabin, the only available space was a wall in the small living room. With a little creativity and some inexpensive items – IKEA wardrobes, brackets & a countertop – I was able to create a cute little home office nook that our guests have loved! If you’re in need of some ideas on how to make your own living room office space, here is some inspiration.

How much space do you have?

The first thing to consider when setting up a home office nook in your living area is the available space. A small desk can be a great place to start. This piece of furniture doesn’t take up much space and can fit in a corner of the living room or next to an end table. If you have a console table in your living room that isn’t being used, that could serve as your desk. A coffee table can double as a work area if your living room doubles as your family room. You can also use a dining table or a kitchen table as a work surface if you don’t have extra space for an office desk.

Creating a designated home office in your living room does not mean you need to sacrifice the rest of the room. A room divider or clever furniture positioning can help separate your work area from the living space. Try to create a setup that allows for privacy and helps maintain boundaries between work and relaxation areas.

See how a boring, dated living room was transformed into a coastal modern farmhouse space with a DIY shiplap fireplace and adorable office nook with storage.

Creating an office nook with two IKEA PAX wardrobes

In the case of Our Little Lake House, we had one wall on the west side of our living room that we needed to configure into a small office space with storage. To create this, I used two IKEA PAX units and placed them on each end of the wall. Then in between, we installed some brackets and placed a wooden countertop on the brackets. The addition of a comfy office chair, mirror, and wall sconce created the coziest little office nook for our cabin’s guests to enjoy.

A colorful boho craft room home office with tons of great DIY decor and organization ideas.
I used a pegboard above my home office desk to take advantage of wall space

Use vertical space

Another great idea for maximizing your small home office is to utilize vertical space. Wall-mounted shelf brackets can hold office supplies and keep your desk clutter-free. A built-in cabinet or a console desk with drawers can also help keep your work essentials organized.

Remember, the best way to create a productive space is to keep it organized and clutter-free. Use a chalkboard paint wall or a large wall calendar to keep track of deadlines and your to-do list. This also helps keep things like this up and off the limited surface space in your home office.

Consider the lighting

Lighting is essential to any workspace. Natural light is the best option as it helps reduce eye strain and improves mood. Position your desk near a window if possible. If natural light is limited, invest in good overhead lighting and soft accent lighting on your desk or wall nearby. I love wall sconces for office nooks, and you can either wire them in or buy some simple plug & play options!

Comfy furniture is key

Choosing the right furniture is key to making your small space functional. Ergonomic office chairs and desks can help prevent discomfort during long work hours. I’m a huge fan of desk chairs with wheels so that you can easily roll them to other areas in your office space. The faux leather chair above was used in my friend’s basement office makeover, and I love how it’s comfy but practical!

Be creative with storage

When it comes to storage, think outside the box. The dollar store is an affordable place to find storage solutions that can fit into small spaces. Boxes, baskets, and organizers can keep your workspace tidy without taking up much space.

If you have enough space, a filing cabinet can be a good option for storage. It can be tucked under your desk or placed in an unused corner. I used the IKEA ALEX filing cabinets in the small office area above to prop up the countertop and act as extra storage. You can also opt for a fold-out desk to save space when you’re not working.

Create an Office Space in a Small Living Room
The desk nook in our vacation rental is well-used by our guests

Don’t forget to add some style

With the right color scheme and decorative items, you can create an office space in your living room that blends seamlessly with your decor. White walls and natural materials can make a small space feel larger and more open, or consider painting an accent wall above your desk. Add a focal point like a piece of art or a decorative mirror to make the workspace feel more personal and inspiring.

Bonus points if you can incorporate a little greenery into your workspace! Plants can purify the air and make your workspace feel more relaxed and inviting.

How to style your home office desk three ways - glam, minimal or cozy!

A dedicated area for balance

Lastly, always remember to keep your workspace separate from your family and leisure activities. This separation will help you maintain focus during your work hours and ensure a better work-life balance. Even if it’s the smallest nook in your living room, having a dedicated work area for work and the rest of the house for non-work activities will truly help you maintain healthy boundaries.

Creating an office space in a small living room is definitely possible with some creativity and strategic planning. Whether you’re working from a studio apartment or trying to find a functional home office in a shared living area, these tips can help you make the most of your square footage! Remember, the best place for your home office is where you’ll be able to work effectively. Do you have a small home office space in your living room? I’d love to see. If you share it on social media, tag me @thediymommy so I can share your inspiration!

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