Designing A Home Office Den: Style, Functionality

how to design a home office den

Designing a home office or den is about creating a functional space that complements the design flair of the rest of your home. It's important to consider how the room will be used and what features are essential, such as privacy, storage, cord management, and lighting. The desk is a key feature and should be placed to optimise natural light and productivity, while also considering video conferencing needs. Built-in tech storage and creative decorative storage solutions can help to keep the space clutter-free and inviting. The colour palette, artwork, and furniture choices should reflect your personality and inspire productivity.

Characteristics Values
Desk placement Back to a wall, facing the door, but not directly in line with the entrance. Close to a natural light source.
Seating Beyond a desk chair, a bench or table and chairs for clients or family.
Storage Closed storage to keep the space clutter-free. Built-in or freestanding shelving, decorative bins and boxes, or cabinets with drawers.
Lighting Natural lighting, recessed lighting, task lighting over the desk and seating areas.
Colour palette Be daring.
Artwork Placed to hide work binders or office accessories.


Desk placement is key: face a window, but avoid screen glare.

Desk placement is one of the most important aspects of designing a home office. The position of your desk can impact your productivity, as well as your overall well-being.

Firstly, it is best to place your desk close to a natural light source. Facing a window can boost your mood and productivity, but if you find it too distracting, you can always place your desk perpendicular to the window. If you choose to face the window, be mindful of screen glare. You can add window treatments to block the glare, or simply adjust the position of your desk so that the light doesn't hit your monitor.

It's also important to consider video conferencing when placing your desk. If you have a lot of video calls, make sure there's nothing in the background that you don't want others to see. Additionally, avoid placing your desk with your back to the door, as this can cause stress. Instead, opt for a position that puts your back to a wall and gives you a view of the door without placing you directly in line with the entrance. This "commanding position" is said to create the best energy for you to be in charge of your surroundings.


Ensure privacy: limit noise and distractions, especially for video calls.

When designing a home office, it's important to consider how to limit noise and distractions, especially if you're on a lot of video calls throughout the day. Here are some ways to ensure privacy and minimize interruptions:

Firstly, the placement of your desk can make a significant difference. While it's advisable to position your desk near a natural light source, be mindful of the angle to the window to avoid screen glare. Also, avoid having your back to the door, as it can cause stress. Instead, opt for a setup that puts your back to a wall, giving you a view of the door but not directly in line with the entrance. This "commanding position" is said to create a sense of control and reduce distractions.

Additionally, consider the background that will be visible during video calls. Interior designer Barbara Hayman suggests ensuring there aren't people moving around in the background or things you wouldn't want everyone to see. You can also use virtual backgrounds offered by most video conferencing platforms to maintain privacy and a professional appearance.

To limit noise distractions, soundproofing your home office can be beneficial. This can be achieved through various methods, such as installing sound-absorbing panels, using thick curtains or blinds, or even adding bookshelves or cabinetry to help block or absorb sound. If soundproofing isn't feasible, consider using noise-cancelling headphones or white noise machines to reduce the impact of external noises.

Another way to limit distractions is by setting boundaries with those you live with. Communicate your work schedule and request that they respect your work time. Posting your schedule on the door of your home office can help inform others when you're available and when you need privacy. Additionally, if possible, designate your home office as a work-only space and avoid using it for other activities. This will help create a mental association between the room and focus, reducing distractions.

Lastly, manage your digital distractions. Turn off notifications, silence your phone, and consider using website and app blockers during work hours. These simple steps can go a long way toward ensuring a quiet and productive work environment.


Include a seating area for work and relaxation.

When designing a home office, it's important to consider how many people will be using the space at one time. Interior designer Dee Frazier recommends asking yourself a few questions: "Are you using it for your personal life? Will your job be out of the office? Will you have clients come in? What about kids?"

Interior designer Barbara Hayman notes that privacy, storage, cord management, and lighting are essential for every home workspace. She also emphasizes the importance of privacy, especially for those who spend a lot of time on video calls throughout the day.

Frazier adds that seating beyond a desk chair is crucial and can serve multiple purposes. For example, it can be a bench for when the kids pop in or a table and chairs to review documents with clients. In one project, Frazier included a plush round ottoman and two leather chairs near the windows to create a cosy seating area. She separated this informal meeting area from the more formal work zone with an inviting rug.

When designing an office for two people, Hayman points out that style is just as important as function. She says, "You have to find a common ground to make both of them happy, even if they don't like the same things." In one instance, Hayman combined a contemporary style with a farmhouse look to meet the different preferences of a husband and wife.

To make the most out of your space, consider multi-purpose furniture. For instance, place an extra-deep console or narrow table at the back of a sofa. This can function as a desk during the day and can be easily transformed into a decorative piece when entertaining or watching TV at night.

Additionally, look for furnishings with storage, such as pieces with shelves or hidden compartments. An ottoman, for instance, can provide storage space for blankets and pillows while also being easy to move out of the way.

Finally, ensure that your lighting is appropriate for both work and relaxation. Interior designer Elizabeth Gordon recommends incorporating multiple sources of lighting in the room to serve different purposes, including reading, setting the mood, and entertaining.


Built-in tech storage: hide unsightly wires and equipment.

Built-in tech storage is an essential feature of any home office, helping to keep your space organised and free from clutter. Here are some ideas to hide unsightly wires and equipment:

Built-in Bookshelves and Cabinetry

An effective way to maximise space and create a stylish home office is to install a wall of built-in bookshelves and cabinetry. Place your desk in front of this feature, and you'll have the perfect spot to hide wires and office equipment, such as wifi boxes and printers. The open shelves also provide an opportunity to display your personality with books, photos, and artwork, creating a unique background for video calls.

Custom-built Storage Units

If you have the space, consider investing in a custom-built storage unit designed to fit your specific equipment, such as monitors and printers. These units can be built to your exact specifications, ensuring your technology is neatly tucked away while also providing additional storage solutions for other office essentials.

Cable Management Solutions

Implementing cable management solutions is crucial to keeping your home office tidy and organised. Group and secure cables using cable clips, zip ties, or cable sleeves, and then route them along the underside of your desk or through cable trays or raceways. This will help to keep them out of sight and prevent tangling. Additionally, consider using adhesive cable mounts to secure cables vertically along desk legs or the sides of cabinets for further organisation.

Cord-Concealing Furniture

Another option is to invest in furniture pieces specifically designed for cord management, such as desks with built-in cable trays or wire-concealing cabinets. These pieces provide creative solutions to hide wires and keep your workspace tidy. When selecting furniture, ensure it suits your specific needs and complements your existing office décor for a cohesive and functional space.

Wall-mounted Cord Covers

Wall-mounted cord covers are an efficient and sleek solution to managing unsightly wires. These covers come in various styles, including painted camouflage that can be matched to your wall colour, making the wires practically invisible. Alternatively, opt for decorative molding cord covers that add a touch of sophistication to your office while keeping the wires neatly tucked away.


Layer lighting: combine natural, ambient, and task lighting

When designing a home office den, lighting is an important consideration. Layering lighting—combining natural, ambient, and task lighting—is a great way to bring a room to life with design flexibility and functionality.

Natural lighting is an important first step. Take advantage of any windows, skylights, or atriums by placing your desk as close to a natural light source as possible. If you're lighting a small room, a single ceiling light fixture in the centre of the room is often enough to provide adequate ambient lighting. Larger rooms may require multiple ceiling light fixtures to create a balanced and well-lit space.

Ambient lighting is the main light source in a room and is often created by chandeliers, pendants, flush and semi-flush mounts, and recessed lighting. It is best to put ceiling lights on dimmers so that the intensity can be adjusted. Ambient lighting is important because it provides light for the entire room, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Task lighting is the second layer of lighting and is important for performing specific tasks, such as reading or cooking. It includes table lamps, vanity lights, and adjustable floor lamps. Task lighting should be brighter than ambient lighting and focused on your workspace.

By combining these three types of lighting, you can create a visually and functionally balanced room that can be adjusted for different times of the day or activities.

Home Office: Personal or Business Use?

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Frequently asked questions

To design a functional and stylish home office/den, consider the following:

- The purpose of the room and how it will be used.

- The colour palette of adjoining rooms, and whether to be daring with the design.

- The placement of the desk to optimise productivity and avoid screen glare.

- The lighting, including natural, ambient, and task lighting.

- Storage solutions to keep the space clutter-free, such as built-in bookshelves and cabinetry.

- The addition of a seating area for work and relaxation.

To create a functional and stylish home office/den combination, consider the following:

- Using creative storage solutions, such as decorative bins and boxes, to tuck away office supplies when not in use.

- Incorporating the TV into a built-in cabinet or storage shelving to easily access it during den time but keep it out of view during work hours.

- Building in your desk or pushing it up against the wall to optimise space.

- Keeping your workspace clutter-free by using wireless equipment and retractable doors to hide fax and print equipment.

- Using multi-functional furniture, such as a deep console or narrow table, that can serve as a desk during the day and a decorative piece at night.

To optimise the lighting in a home office/den, consider the following:

- Incorporating multiple sources of lighting, including natural lighting, ambient lighting, and task lighting.

- Using dimmers for ceiling lights to adjust the intensity according to your needs.

- Adding task lighting over the desk and seating areas for better illumination during work or relaxation.

- Ensuring the lighting is appropriate for both work and relaxation, such as incorporating mood lighting for den time.

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