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20 aesthetic home office set-ups for WFH inspiration

By Catharina Cheung 14 April 2020

Header image courtesy of @merakikollektiv

We imagine more than half of you are well and truly sick of working from home by this point. It’s likely that your so-called “desk” is more like a corner of the dining table, or you’ve simply swept aside some makeup and set up shop on your vanity area. We’ve decided to round up some of the best home office setups we’ve seen that practically made us green with jealousy, and pulled out some tips that you can use to significantly upgrade your workspace! Have a look and let us know which is your favourite.

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Incorporate lots of plants

Every eye care specialist in the industry will tell you the best way to maintain the health of your eyes is to take regular breaks from staring at electronic screens and “look at something green”. This might be as easy as lifting your head to gaze out the window in other countries, but for those of us in Hong Kong’s dense urban jungle whose windows only affords us a peek into our neighbour’s messy kitchen, the best option is to bring the great outdoors, well, indoors. Haul ass to the Flower Market and get yourself some nice green plants to deck out your space! Just look at how these people have plants to make their space look infinitely more calm and inviting. Here is a list of plants that work particularly well indoors.

Add green tones

Of course, if you have the opposite of a green thumb, or if the thought of having to keep something alive under your care gives you anxiety, you can always give your eyes their well-deserved rest some other way—simply make some of your workspace green for that natural calming effect. This can be in a colour accent wall, pictures of plants, or even having your workstation itself painted green.

Keep your colour palette consistent

Unless you’re really big into minimalism, it’s likely that you might give in to the tendency to cram too much into one space. Yes, we all have things that spark joy or give us comfort, but indulging too much will result in an overload of colours and textures. Trust us, sooner than later it’ll all be too much and become taxing on the eyes. A good way to combat this is to stick to one colour palette. This doesn’t mean everything in your space has to be just one colour; instead, use a combination of tones that complement each other. Take a look at Alexa Chung’s workstation. She’s got a good assortment of stuff on her table but they all blend harmoniously because the warm earth tones she uses—browns, dusky reds, muted orange—all work together. Don’t give in to the urge to just use your favourite colour either; pick something you’re definitely going to have in your home office, and work the colour palette around that item instead.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Get set up near storage

Photo credit: @studioaki.co

If you’ve already got a bookshelf or cabinet in the house, it makes sense for your workspace to be near it. You can clear up some shelves and repurpose it into storage for work-related items, documents, and stationery. Your desktop will likely suffer from less clutter, and this also has the added benefit of creating more spaces to install plants.

Expand upwards

Embrace this city’s philosophy to expansion: since we can’t grow out, grow up instead! In a city where we only have so much space to work with, it’d be silly not to utilise vertical space as well. Invest in wall shelves and reclaim some precious space for more storage opportunities. If you’re renting and don’t want to go around drilling holes all over your apartment, there are desks which already come with shelves. See how these people have done it!

Even small spaces can work well

With a bit of ingenuity, every home should have a bit of space to carve out for a work station. Clear out a small corner or a dead-end space, and with a little sprucing up, you can have a perfectly viable home office. As mentioned, setting up some shelves above the desk will make a world of difference in usable areas. Cut back on decoration as a small space will easily be overwhelmed, and keep clutter to a minimum by clearing up the area regularly.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Work on your lighting

Obviously, it would be ideal if you could situate your work desk near a window for natural light. But we know this ideal situation might not be feasible in some homes without extensive reshuffling of furniture. In these cases, special attention should be paid to lighting. Use warm lights instead of white lights for less strain on the eyes; a tall desk lamp would work better than the light already in the ceiling as it’s less likely to cast disruptive shadows. Feel free to deck out your space in fairy lights, which will lend a warm glow. PC gamers will already know this hack, but if you like working in relative darkness, then consider using LED strip lights to backlight your monitor so your eyes strain less to adjust to the brightness of the screen and the dark surroundings.

Use your coffee table

Photo credit: @adamdenzel

Now, we do know that a lot of Hong Kong homes just don’t have the space to support a full desk setup for working from home. That’s okay, too! You can still work from your coffee table, especially if you upgrade your space with a table that has a section you can elevate. Paired with a laptop raiser, it is actually possible to work off of a coffee table without ending up like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Plus, you’d also have the added bonus of having storage space beneath the raised section of the table. @adamdenzel has a great example of what this home office setup can look like.

Utilise your living room

It entirely makes sense if you don’t want to work near where you sleep. After all, a delineation of work and rest spaces is what makes a home office feasible. But with spatial restrictions, a good compromise could be tweaking your living room to incorporate a work space. Take this setup by @samciurdar for example. By elevating your telly higher up onto the wall, you can free up floor space underneath it to stick a desk. When you’re actually working, the telly is out of your field of sight, and the comfortable distraction of the couch is literally behind you. The living room is generally the most expansive area in the home as well, so your home office will also feel more spacious.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Even use your balcony

Photo credit: @inspiracoesparavarandas

If you’ve got a balcony, chances are you’re under utilising it anyway, so why not move your office outside for some fresh air as you work? As shown in the picture, you don’t even need a huge balcony to be able to achieve this. Granted, you’ll probably need weatherproof blinds of some sort that you can pull down to protect your desk from the elements sometimes, but it is feasible, and you’ll definitely have that work and rest space delineation everyone bangs on about!

Trick your eyes

One of the oldest tricks in the interior designer’s book is to use mirrors to give the impression of a larger space. Similarly, if your home office faces a wall that you’re unlikely to plaster in artsy photos or motivational prints, consider installing a mirror instead. The reflection of the room will create an illusion of depth and visually make your space feel larger. Check out how these people have used mirrors in their relatively small office spaces, and how it can brighten up an area. Of course, if you’re the kind of person who can’t walk down a street without stopping and pouting at every reflective surface, then maybe give this tip a miss...

Additional products

Here are a small selection of products you might find useful in upgrading your home office space:

Ergonomic chairs

Ergonomic chairs can help with back pain and other such issues that come with sitting at a desk for too much of your day. Of the various office chairs available on the market, Herman Miller’s are widely considered the best. They are an investment, but consider it a good one in your physical comfort and health.

Photo credit: TechSpot

Standing desks

Too many white-collar workers lead sedentary lifestyles that eventually takes its toll on health, so a good way to keep moving while working a nine-to-six job (and while gyms citywide are still closed) is to work from a standing desk. These clever contraptions can be raised and lowered as needed so you can keep your muscles and core engaged as you try to reach inbox zero. Some people even put their standing desks above a treadmill so they can get their steps in.

Photo credit: Ugmonk

Monitor risers

These are platforms that will raise your computer or laptop to an optimal height for maintaining the health of your neck as you work. If you’re hunched over your screen all day, five days a week, you’re likely to develop issues such as knots in your neck, a hump at the nape of your neck, neck wrinkles, tension headaches, and more. Who needs it when there’s an easy solution?

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Catharina Cheung

Senior editor

Catharina has recently returned to her hometown of Hong Kong after spending her formative years in Singapore and the UK. She enjoys scouring the city for under-the-radar things to do, see, and eat, and is committed to finding the perfect foundation that will withstand Hong Kong’s heat. She is also an aspiring polyglot, a firm advocate for feminist and LGBTQIA+ issues, and a huge lover of animals. You can find her belting out show-tunes in karaoke, or in bookstores adding new tomes to her ever-growing collection.

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