Create a home office in tight quarters

Colors are a mood-booster.

One of the biggest complaints full-time freelancers make about working at home is feeling like they’re never able to “leave” the office, because it’s literally in their living room. While urban living often means small quarters, it’s really possible to create a separate home office that feels like a dedicated work space — even if it’s just in a tiny studio. We explore how.

Carve out a clear-cut space: Corners generally work best when creating a work nook. Select a corner of your kitchen, living room or studio apartment that gets particularly good light, as in the photo below, and then tape the floor to demarcate exactly how large or small you want your “office” to be. Be strict about containing your office furniture and any other related work stuff to the space you’ve taped off, so as to have a clear work-only zone in your home. Just be sure to remove the tape once you’ve finished decorating.

Set a different tone: Does the rest of your home have a maximal look that’s densely filled with decorative items from your past 10 years of travel? Then make your workspace clean and minimal. Is your apartment already sparse? Then buy a bold piece of artwork, create a mood board or add a small gallery of images to hang above your desk to define the look of the space, setting it apart from the rest of your home. Bottom line, you want to be able to sit down at your desk and feel like you’re in a different zone — a productive one.

Pick a few signature colors: This will give your nook its own look and character. Do this through an accent wall, wall decals or decorative accessories. Colors are an age-old mood booster. That means a dedicated palette can help you feel like you’re stepping into the office — and most importantly, leaving it behind — at the beginning and end of each day.

Keep the furniture lean

A simple tabletop and two legs will do. The bulkier the desk, the smaller it will make the rest of your kitchen, living room or bedroom feel. So keep your desk compact and lean, with no more than two drawers. The downside is that you won’t have much storage space for books, files and whatnot. The upside is that it will be a great test in how to stay organized.

Our picks


Ikea Vika work table, $159, www.ikea.com


CB2 file cabinet, $159, www.cb2.com


Here My Dear Head Full of Ideas poster art, $18, www.etsy.com


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