Whether you’re working out of a small office or navigating a complicated layout, having the luxury of a sprawling workspace may not be your reality—and that’s ok. With some simple design updates and organization tricks, you can breathe new life into a teeny work area and make it feel more spacious.
When it comes to storage, think vertically
When working with limited space, it’s all about maximizing the height of the room. Bulky furniture and boxy accessories will only eat up your square footage, so think in terms of vertical functionality. Something as simple as putting up cabinets or installing shelves immediately frees up space on the floor, which creates the illusion of openness. The same goes for bookcases.
This is important because there are some things that simply must go on the floor. (Hello, trash cans and file cabinets.) Thinking vertically helps eliminate every small office’s nemesis: clutter.
Go with the right desk
This is perhaps one of the most important design elements for a small office space. You want to go with the right desk for the layout of the room. If you’re working with a corner space, for example, consider a corner desk that leverages all the available space. Another insider hack is to go with a desk that has thinner exposed legs, as opposed to thick trunks. This takes advantage of negative space and makes the room appear larger than it actually is.
Before you make any purchases, find out the height, width, and length of the item you’re interested in. You can then use masking tape with these dimensions to illustrate where the desk (or other large piece of furniture) would fit in the room. Doing so will give you a sense of the true size of the item, and help you visualize just how big it will be in terms of the space you have.
Organize your files and paperwork
Stacks of folders, documents, and loose papers are good at taking over precious office space (including coveted real estate on your desk). Opt for an organizing system that gets this stuff out of sight, and out of mind. This begins with creating a filing method that makes sense for the type of work you do. Once your files are sorted, think again about vertical space. Desk organization accessories like file boxes and magazine holders can house your papers while taking up considerably less space.
Those who manage a good chunk of paper files may want to go with a filing cabinet. Painting it and swapping out the handles can transform it into a cute piece of furniture. You can reduce the eye sore and maximize the space even more by having your printer live right on top. If you’re not feeling crafty, there are decorative filing cabinets available, like the colorful 3-Drawer File Cabinet by Poppin.
Find a home for cords and wires
A small office space can easily get swallowed up by cords, chargers and wires of all stripes. Low-tech solutions can come to the rescue here. Feeding stray cords through command hooks attached to the back of your desk, for example, can instantly open up space on the floor. Looking for a place to store everything from your earbuds to thumb tacks to your cell phone charger? Consider magnetic spice tins. Fill them with whatever office accessories you like, then stick them to the side of a metal surface like a filing cabinet or chic utility cart. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
Incorporate bits of nature
Researchers say that spending just 20 minutes in contact with nature is enough to lower our stress levels. If your workspace isn’t exactly brimming with natural light, you may want to add a light therapy box or lamp to your shopping list. These little office accessories sit on your desk and emit light that mimics natural outdoor lighting. It’s also something that experts say may boost your mood—who couldn’t use that during the workday?
Plants are equally important to office life. They improve air quality and serve as a small connection to the natural world. Those who are strapped for room can consider a lush hanging plant for the corner of their workspace.
Add in the right accents
If you have windows to work with, adding flowy curtains can help give the appearance of length. This will fool the eye into thinking the office space is taller than it actually is, with minimal effort.
Speaking of accents, don’t forget about paint. Interior design experts say that the right paint can make a small room feel more expansive. Benjamin Moore’s Blueberry, for example, has a way of making a small room appear brighter and larger.
Punching up a small office space is less about what you have and more about how you use it. As these tips reveal, it’s all about making the most of your space and decorating accordingly.