The WFH lifestyle can be tricky. On one hand, it’s an incredibly convenient, modern luxury that some of us are lucky enough to experience. On the flip side, working from home can cause the lines between career and play to become increasingly blurry.
Apartment living adds another unique layer: limited space to do said work and limited space to relax. It’s essentially the perfect design storm.
Challenging floor plans and modest square footage can make it difficult or impossible to set up a proper office, and if you're mostly decorating and editing an apartment on a budget, that can be even tougher! So, what’s left? Resorting to your couch can be too tempting (hi, Netflix!) Your bed is supposed to serve as a dedicated space to unwind. Sitting in your dining chair all day gets uncomfortable. What’s a girl supposed to do?
Home office essentials that work hard
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Before you get frustrated and claim that your WFH situation and apartment living just don't jive, consider more out-of-the-box solutions. Designing a productive space is possible if you take some time to get creative with it — no corner office needed.
Use these tips, tricks, and helpful finds to craft the workspace of your dreams, all while sticking to a budget.
Corner desks are the MVP of apartment living. Just because you don’t have a dedicated room to call your office, doesn’t mean you can’t have a space that’s just for working. A corner desk can be less clunky and look less cluttered than traditional options. Plus, there are more places to put a corner desk than a regular rectangular one.
Sometimes the only “office space” you can get is what you make of your kitchen area. If you scored in the rental department and found a place with a kitchen island (lucky you!) then make the most of it by doubling it up as a workspace. Source bar or counter stools that you not only like aesthetically but that are also comfortable and supportive enough to sit in long-term. Stools with a backrest will serve you better over time — and you’ll be more likely to stay put and get your work done if you’re comfy.
If you have trouble organizing your work supplies, turn to a rolling side table to serve as a career station. Stash your laptop, planner, notebooks, and extra pens on the lower portion of the cart and add a candle or lamp to the top.
Place it alongside your couch or near your desk for a functional but elevated look.
Upon first glance (or your first go at concocting a floor plan) you might not think you have room for a proper desk. However, if you take note of your vertical space then you might be able to squeeze in more than you originally thought.
Wall-mounted desks are strong options for people who really need a dedicated workspace but don’t have much to work with. They’re less bulky than traditional desks — and bonus — they’re easy to find when you’re on a budget. You can even find wall-mounted desks with built-in storage.
Good lighting is crucial when creating a successful WFH setup. Bright light can help you feel more awake, motivated, and focused. If your apartment is lacking in the lighting department, use a big lamp to brighten things up.
Arc floor lamps are ideal for small apartments because they provide a decent amount of light without taking up too much floor space. Place one next to your go-to work spot, whether it’s your desk or your couch (we won’t tell!)
If you don’t have any floor space to work with, consider hanging a plug-in wall sconce near your desk. Opting for a sconce over a lamp will free up room on your desk. This way, you can actually spread your work essentials out in front of you.
A lot of home decor brands are making plug-in sconces now, so there’s no need for hard wiring anything in your rental. Bonus: Sconces are a fun way to add personality to your space!
With no one hovering over you to make sure you’re getting your work done, it can be tempting to scroll social media or start a home project rather than *actually* working. If you have trouble concentrating on your to-do list when you’re in your own space then you might benefit from time blocking.
Set this handy little timer near your workspace to stay on track. It has a timer for 15, 20, 30, and 60 minute increments.
If all else fails, you can always resort to the trusted lap desk. Regardless of your WFH setup, these are nice to have on hand in case you need to work late or aren’t feeling well — they make working from bed a breeze.
Be sure to look for a lap desk that has a sturdy work surface and a cushioned base, like this find from Pottery Barn. Tuck it under your bed or in a coat closet when you’re not using it.
We would be amiss if we didn’t admit that we too have stayed up late to make a deadline. Whether you’re crunching for midterms or you’re prepping for a big meeting, it’s important to make yourself feel comfy if you have to work late. After all, isn’t comfort one of the perks of working from home?
While working on your couch or from your bed should be reserved for special, one-off situations, treat yourself on nights that you have to stay up late. Wrap yourself in a soft throw blanket to stay toasty when you have a long night of working ahead.
If your ideal working situ is actually on a hot desk, somewhere tropical, or in a cute café, bring the ambiance with a candle to inspire your day and night.
So keep a fancy candle handy at all times. After all, your apartment might be where you get your work done, but it’s also your home and your happy place.
What should every home office have?
It really depends on how you work and on your existing environment! If you need a desk, one that suits your space will be essential. And if you need it to work double-time as an island, that's no problem as there are a ton of portable (and cheaper) kitchen island picks, ripe for slotting into small spaces.
Alternatively, if you're planning to use your kitchen table or breakfast nook as a proper desk, opt for cozy accent chairs made with fabric rather than basic wood to make your seating arrangement feel extra inviting, and focus on those little extras like lighting and time-management props for a super cozy setup all day long. Your WFH space needs to help you feel grounded and inspired, so don't be afraid to try different things until you find the perfect layout and environment for you to do your best work ini!