Work from home office ideas and desk inspiration in a small flat

Posted by for Careers

Struggling to create a space where you can work from home comfortably? We’ve spoken to experts to get easy tips and ideas on forging a home office environment in less than ideal circumstances. 

Coronavirus has thrown our society into a state of uncertainty. Social distancing has meant that many of us are having to drastically change our ways of working to adapt to being at home full time, for the foreseeable future.

If this includes you, your initial thoughts might have been along the lines of: “no commute and pyjamas all day? This isn’t so bad…” 

But as the situation continues to spiral it can become quite taxing, emotionally and physically, to feel focused and motivated all day without an office environment.

It’s the small things: working from your sofa or bed won’t give you proper back support and could leave you feeling sluggish throughout the day. While staring at your dirty washing basket doesn’t make for the most inspiring view. 

We don’t all have the resources to suddenly invest in a proper home-working environment complete with shiny new desk and Mac computer. Equally, many of us living in smaller, rented accommodation just don’t have the space to, either.

With this in mind, we’ve spoken to experts and gathered our own research to come up with simple tips and advice that are easy to put into practice (in most homes), to help you carve out a little space for your working day to keep you feeling motivated and on top of your game. 

How to create a home office space in a small apartment.
  • Light some candles

    Neon candle
    Home office decor ideas: candle

    This is super simple, but creating a calm and pleasant atmosphere is key to making you feel comfortable in your surroundings. If you feel happy with your setup, you’re more likely to be able to concentrate on your work instead of feeling off-kilter. Candle-wise we suggest going for a fresh, soothing fragrance and making sure it’s burning properly.

    We love the de-stress candle from Neom which is 100% natural and blends 24 essential oils such as jasmine, lavender and Brazilian rosewood. 

    Shop de-stress luxury candle at Neom, £32

  • Surround yourself with things that inspire you

    Meera Lee
    Home office decor ideas: art print

    As we said, if the view in your flat feels a little bleak, an easy way to switch up your decor to create a home-working vibe is to simply stick up some pictures or quotes that inspire you. 

    We spoke to Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe of London-based interior design studio 2LG Studio (you can pre-order their new book Making Living Lovely) and they recommended “using washi tape to stick up graphics, patterns or posters” to keep your brain active. 

    We love the idea of investing in female illustrators and popping up some empowering art prints like the one above. 

    Shop Born to Do This print at Meera Lee, £16

  • Make your to-do list visible

    Not on the Highstreet
    Home office decor ideas: to do list grid

    2LG Studio advises making your to-do list as colourful, eye-catching and exciting as possible and keeping it somewhere you can see it so you continue to feel motivated and in-control. 

    A simple way to do this is to get a wall grid or cork board and hang it on the wall where you are working. Here you can pin up your ever-changing lists for the day, any extra notes and some pictures that make you happy.

    Shop rose gold wall grid at Not on the Highstreet, £32

  • Invest in a desk that’s designed for small spaces

    Habitat desk
    Home office decor ideas: desk

    Habitat’s head of design Kate Butler has plenty of experience in innovating furniture that reacts to how consumers lives are changing. As renting prices continue to spiral out of control, leaving many of us living in smaller spaces, she says her designs have had to become more compact. The good news? With designers thinking like this, there are homeware pieces you can buy that will suit your needs, which is what Butler suggests.

    “Sadly, gone are the days of the separate study and the big old Victorian desks,” she says. “Today we’re designing desks that are supposed to seamlessly fit into the main living spaces of small apartments and still look stylish – desks that don’t really look like desks!

    “Just in the last week since the coronavirus has seen much of the country working from home, we’ve seen over a 70% increase in the sales of our clear glass Nic desk. It’s an ideal design for small spaces as the glass top makes it practically invisible, blending into the background of your apartment and allows light to easily flow through a space so your flat doesn’t look any smaller.”

    Shop Nic desk at Habitat, from £160

  • Buy yourself some flowers

    Bloom & Wild
    Home office decor ideas: flowers

    It’s amazing what a bit of colour and life can do for an environment. Not many of us are getting the chance to go outdoors and immerse ourselves in nature at the moment, but by getting some bright blooms from your local supermarket you can liven up your work space and bring a bit of the outside in. Simply plonk them in a vase wherever you’re working. 

    Alternatively, you could treat yourself to a monthly flower subscription to make sure you’re never without. 

    Shop subscription flowers at Bloom & Wild, from £20

If you’re looking for more advice on how to feel emotionally prepared for working at home long-term, check out our working from home series which includes tips on how to look after your mental health, how to make working from home work for you and even interesting articles to read when you need a break. 

Stylist has also created an online community so you can still get your fill of office banter from home. Join women around the country who are also working from home to share experiences, and just have a bit of a natter. 

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Bloom & Wild / Unsplash

Share this article

Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

Recommended by Megan Murray