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

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Struggling to create a space where you can work from home comfortably, especially if you have a small flat? 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.

Surround yourself with things that inspire you

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 these female illustrators, for example, who produce empowering art prints (at an accessible price), perfect for transforming a corner of your flat.

Light some candles

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.

Make your to-do list visible

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 an inexpensive cork board and some pins 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.

Invest in a desk that’s designed for small spaces

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.”

Working from your sofa won’t give you back support and could leave you feeling sluggish throughout the day.

Buy yourself some 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. 

Try a ladder desk

Now this is a really handy trick if you have seriously limited space. Whether you buy an actual ladder desk or use ladder storage to position your work supplies, the leaning shape means it can be slotted in almost anywhere. 

Habitat’s Butler agrees: “Ladder desks – such as Jessie – are also another stylish way to integrate a work space into your apartment. The leaning shelving function is space saving but also allows opportunity for ample storage making it very efficient and suitable for any small space.” 

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. 

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Images: Getty / Unsplash

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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