How to create a perfect home-office desk

Gretchen Hansen, founder and CEO of the online interior design company Decorist, offers advice for getting your best work done at home.

How to create a perfect home-office desk
[Photos: Decorist; Kanso; World Market; CB2]

The number of employers offering a work-from-home option has grown by 40% in the past five years, according to the most recent research. A survey from video-conferencing company Owl Labs found that 68% of global employees work from home at least once per month. That same survey also found that the primary reason employees work from home is to increase their focus and productivity. That means there’s more people than ever taking advantage of the opportunity to do great work outside of office—and more often than not, they’re doing it an at-home desk.


Gretchen Hansen, founder and CEO of Decorist. [Photo: courtesy of Carol Vaziri/Decorist]
But it’s hard to take advantage of this increased productivity and laser-like focus without a space that inspires you, says Gretchen Hansen, founder and CEO of Decorist, an online interior design service that connects homeowners with decorators for digital consultations.

“The way that your personal space looks has a direct impact on how you feel, your outlook on work, and, more broadly, on life,” Hansen says. “A space that is visually beautiful and that reflects your personal style will inspire you to work your best.”

Hansen offered us her favorite design tips (and a list of the home-office gadgets and accessories she’s most obsessed with right now) to inspire you to ditch the couch and create your most productive space—whether it’s an entire den dedicated to an at-home office or a corner desk in a one-bedroom apartment.

Use dining tables as desks

“Dining tables today are very stylish and well designed and affordable,” Hansen says. “They also offer a huge amount of surface area to work and to have others gather to meet. They are the perfect work surface for today.”

Convert small closets or built-in bookshelves to create an office alcove

“Sometimes finding a space to work only requires looking at spaces that aren’t used in your home—hall closets, built-in bookshelves, or extra spaces and nooks in a larger room,” Hansen says. These areas can be the foundation for an amazing workspace if you put a little thought and energy into decorating them.

Let your room do double duty

Use a rarely used formal dining room or guest bedroom to double as an office. “There are some really beautiful ways to integrate a work space into these rooms that doesn’t scream ‘office,'” Hansen says. “Keep files in a rolling cart and accessories in beautiful decorative boxes to allow you to transform the space quickly and with ease.”

[Photos: courtesy of World Market; courtesy of CB2]

Use nontraditional accessories to hold your everyday essentials

“I use small studio pottery bowls to hold paperclips—which I use constantly,” Hansen says. “I’m also obsessed with sophisticated bathroom tumbler cups to hold pencils and pens. I love how bookends can showcase the constant stream of books I buy that both inspire and educate me.” Terrazzo Lidded Storage Canister, $17, and CB2 Swoop Black Marble Bookends, $60

Find a big decorative box to hold all the miscellaneous items you need

And don’t be afraid to leave it right out on your desktop. “The box is like your treasure trove and can have everything from tape to a mini stapler to cards and pen refills,” Hansen says. Pro tip: Keep the lid easy to lift or open, since you will be using it often. 12-Inch Fawn Bone-Inlay Storage Box, $105 

[Photo: courtesy of Russell + Hazel]

Use a filing system

Just like an out-of-control inbox screams anxiety, disheveled papers all over your desk can cause undue stress. So invest in a filing box. “This is a gorgeous acrylic file box you can leave anywhere and not sweat it,” Hansen says. Russell + Hazel File Box, $60

[Photo: courtesy of Kanso]

Don’t forget the basics

The Allex Scissors from Kanso are beautiful—but more importantly, they function beautifully, too. Make sure you can say the same thing for everything from your stapler to your pens, too. “Invest in the everyday items you use in your office,” Hansen advises. “There are so many well-designed products out there, each one should bring you joy.” Allex Scissors by Kanso, $30

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