Homes & Design Photo Credit: Western Living

How to Design an Office Space That Works

Calgary designer Nyla Free shares her tips for creating a stylish and functional home office.

We all have work to do, but it can be hard to stay focused when your space is unorganized (or just uninspiring). Whether your home office needs a slight upgrade, or your starting from scratch, designer Nyla Free has some tips that’ll help you design a workspace that’s both stylish and practical.

Every cord in this Sophie Burke-designed office nook is neatly tucked away. (Photo: Barry Calhoun.)

1. Hide Pesky Electrical Cords

Essential office equipment like computers, printers and desk lamps come with a mess of wires. To avoid unsightly tangles, Free suggests using grommets to redirect cords. But if you’re thinking of these solutions during the early stages of the design process, “place outlets on top of your desk,” she says. “Floor outlets are another good option—especially if your desk is in the middle of a room.”

home office modern
If your office is flooded with natural light, choose a lamp—like this dark and quirky fox-shaped one—that will add a different layer of light to the room. (Photo: Tracey Ayton.)

2. Let the Light In

“For desk-related tasks, opt for a lamp with good light and the ability to reposition as needed,” Free says. “Layering [different types of lighting] provides options for the amount and intensity of light depending on the task at hand.” 

Designer Stephanie Brown’s home office feels serene thanks to white-on-white furnishings and floor-to-ceiling drapes. (Photo: Janis Nicolay.)

3. Add an Element of Softness

“Why not add softness to the space with an area carpet, drapery or wall-to-wall cork board? Not only will this add a layer of warmth, it will also [absorb sound],” says Free. Softening your home office with carpets or drapery also makes the space feel inviting.

The plush velvet armchair in this Kelly Deck-designed office is a welcome retreat for the homeowner’s kids. (Photo: Barry Calhoun.)

4. Make It Cozy

To add an element of comfort to an otherwise hectic space, Free suggests adding a daybed, pullout sofa or a pair of reading chairs. “This offers additional space for guests—or a place to read and relax.”

Stylish storage bins (and chic desktop baskets!) makes it easy to keep your workspace tidy. (Photo: David Strongman.)

5. Keep It Clean

“Office accessories have never been more stylish. Stock up on functional paper files, storage bins and pencil cups to ensure you have a place for everything. There’s no shortage of options and, let’s face it, it’s always easier to put things away when you have stylish storage,” says Free. 

Get the Look: Nyla Free’s Fave Office Accessories

  1. The Fiona Task lamp ($168) from Anthropologie is a stylish way to brighten up your desk. anthropologie.com 
  2. Keep your workspace organized by tacking all your notes and loose papers on this felt board ($250).  letterfolk.com 
  3. Kick back and relax on the Monroe mid-century chaise lounger ($1,100). westelm.com
  4. The Wire Framed trash bin ($149) from SchoolHouse is as stylish as it is functional. schoolhouse.com 

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