How to Create a Gorgeous Small Home Office on a Budget

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In this post, I’ve rounded up ways you can create a functional and stylish home office in a small space without sacrificing comfort or burning a hole in your wallet. 

Having a (proper) place to work at home really helps with productivity, especially if you’re working from home for hours/days on end. 

Although there are lots of people who can be consistently productive working on their bed or couch for long periods (I’m not one of them), most persons really need some kind of designated desk area to work comfortably (and be more productive). 

And raise your hand if you’re tired of having to clear the dining table after you’re done working?

I think you can create a small home office on a budget in most types of living situations – be it a studio apartment, condo, one-bedroom apartment etc. And you’ll see just that in the examples I’m showing. 

You’ll also find a few renter-friendly hacks and tips since not everyone has the freedom (or desire) to drill holes into walls.

Ok, let’s dig in.

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How to create a small home office on a budget

small home office ideas

1.   Maximize vertical storage

A general rule when working with a small space is to make full use of walls or any vertical space (like a door). 

This is also vital when creating a small home office since storing all your work-related items will probably be the biggest challenge.

You also don’t want your desk itself cluttered, so vertical storage is great for keeping smaller items well-organized and within easy reach, but off of your work surface.

So if your desk is against a wall in the bedroom, living room, corner or hidden in a closet office, here are some options for vertical storage.

Use a Ladder Desk 

I’ll start with the  ladder desk in case you don’t have a desk as yet. These are great options for a small space. 

Julia from Chris loves Julia was able to pack function into an empty corner with hers.

This would work well for a home office in a bedroom or in a rental studio since it provides vertical storage and has a very slim profile.

Browse some cute options below.

Use floating shelves or shelves on brackets

In this closet office located off of her living room, Ursula from Homemade by Carmona installed some gorgeous floating shelves.

Since they can hold more, you can keep storage boxes with paperwork on the shelves and still have room for decorative pieces. 

I love how she styled these shelves and the contrast of the items against the dark, moody paint.

And in this example from Houzz, this tiny office nook off the kitchen has floating shelves that can be used for storage or decor.

Use a Pegboard

I love how Evgenia from Foxy and Brass customized the IKEA Skadis Pegboard and styled it with spray-painted gold accessories in this cozy home office nook located in her living room. 

Use a wall grid

Wall grids are also popular storage options, especially for keeping small, regularly used items – think scissors, pens, ruler – within easy reach. 

If you don’t want to buy one, an old oven rack can definitely do the trick. I spray painted an old oven rack matte black and used it on my desk with these pretty rose gold binder clips.

You can see part of it in my desk makeover post linked below.

Related post: How to Cover a Desk with Marble Contact Paper

2.  Keep furniture (desk and chairs) lightweight but comfy

In most of these examples, you’ll notice that the desk and chair are both lightweight (thin legs and slim profile). 

When you’re integrating your home office as part of another room, like the living room in the example below, keeping the sight lines open prevents the desk and chair from taking over the space.

Using a mid-century modern desk like the example below allows the window light to still flow through the space. 

In this other example, Angela from Blue i style makes creative use of a side table in her guest bedroom office.

I love how the side table isn’t bulky and ditching a desk chair for a stool keeps the area from looking crowded. She definitely packed function into the space without sacrificing aesthetics.

3.  Use concealed storage to hide printer and large “unpretty” items 

Printer cabinets can be super expensive. I did a quick search online and they’re many over US$250.

Umm no thanks

There are many alternatives, like storing them in a credenza, which is being used to store other items in your home. 

This works especially if you have a wireless printer.

You can house the printer in a credenza under the TV or other location, so it doesn’t clutter your immediate workspace.

This other idea, also from the DIY Playbook, involves hacking a basket to hide the printer on an open shelving unit.

So this can be another option. Just be sure to use a basket that leaves enough room (at least an inch or 2) around the printer.   

In this homework station located just off of her living room, Medina from Grillo Designs uses the super-popular Alex drawer from IKEA to store most supplies. 

This makes sure that the space remains clutter-free.

4.  Use multi-purpose furniture 

In cases where installing shelves isn’t possible, such as a rental home, adding a tall bookshelf or bookcase is a great option. 

If it’s in your living room, you get oodles of storage without having to damage any walls. 

Amy from Homey Oh My placed this large wall-mounted bookcase unit next to her workspace located in her living room. 

5.  Make it Pretty with Artwork, Personal Items and Foliage

You need to be inspired by your home office.

That’s a given.

So make it pretty by adding things that make you smile or represent your unique style. 

And this doesn’t have to be expensive.

Customize your desk decor and accessories 

For example, in my desk makeover/home office posts, you can see how I:

I also used a mannequin hand jewelry organizer to hold my post-it notes. 

Desk upgrade with marble contact paper

 So, shop your home for any quirky, non-office related items you can use in your space. 

Think jars, bowls, small jewelry trays, egg trays. Anything can work. 

Dress up your walls and vertical space with motivational artwork 

You can go for a minimalistic look with a fairly subdued colour palette like Brittni did in this home office and guest bedroom combo.

Or bold and tropical like Sarah Dorsey’s home office.

Check out some gorgeous minimalist art prints here.

Add plants and flowers to your desk 

Always, always add foliage – whether real or faux – to your space. I tend to prefer real plants on my desk. 

How cute is that pink vase though?!!

The snake plant is a great option if you need a low maintenance plant (or if you have black thumbs… no judgement!)

So, which of these small home office ideas are you going to try first? Would you add anything else?

Let me know in the comments!

small home office ideas

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13 Comments

  1. Oh so timely! Thanks much.

    I had to take a look around to identify a corner because the dining room table was becoming uncomfortable in these Covid wfh times.

  2. Excellent post – thanks for putting it together. I think I’m finally ready to commit to either some paint or wallpaper to give my office more of a dark, brooding vibe. But only essential runs out of the house for now! Working from home has been enjoyable for me so far – hope I can make it a permanent feature well into the future!

    1. You’re welcome M’aisha! I’m feeling myself more and more drawn to the moody look as well. I’m sure it’ll look great in your space, whatever you decide to do. Keep safe. Xx

  3. Great ideas for the home office. As you know I’ve been trying to organize mine for the LONGEST while. Will have to come back to this post when I get that project going. Oh looking forward to your YouTube channel btw 🙂

  4. I love your ideas for an office space at home. Now I’m tempted to buy a cute office chair lol. I really wish my WFH arrangement could continue even after the dust settles with this pandemic. Nice article!

    1. Thank for your comment Tiff! Glad you enjoyed the round up. And yes, I really wish it could have continued too (although I’d probably eat non-stop if I did work from home lol)! Keep safe x

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