Home Decor

Sarah Richardson's design tips on creating an office area in a living room

Design expert and host of HGTV's Sarah 101 answers a reader's question on how to create a compact workspace in a loft

Slate grey storage boxes

Storage boxes (Photo by Roberto Caruso)

White Expedit shelf and desk, Ikea

Expedit shelf and desk

Teal honeycomb lamp, Pier1

Honeycomb lamp

Blue-green platter, Pavone platter, Pier 1

Pavone platter

Para paints, blue, Oxford, Vista, Convertible

Para paints: Oxford, Vista, Convertible

home office in loft space in front of balcony doors

Photo of Rose P’s home office

White office with peninsula desk

Room inspiration (Photo by Stacey Brandford)

Q: I live in a loft that is tall, long and narrow. How do I create an office area that looks seamless with my living room, offers plenty of storage and doesn’t block patio doors?
Rose P., Vancouver

A: What a great spot for a compact office. The key to success is to create solutions that will bring your little work nook to life without breaking the bank or looking like a cubicle. Here’s how:

1. Add strategic storage
Since you’ve got lots of height, you should play it up. A tall, narrow bookshelf combines storage and display and adds visual interest to your vertical space. You’ll need lots of room to stow your stuff, so pick up a variety of pretty storage boxes and tuck them neatly into the open compartments of the bookshelf.

2. Rearrange your furniture
Take advantage of your spectacular view instead of facing a wall while you work. I suggest placing the desk perpendicular to the wall, like a peninsula. I found one that attaches to the bookshelf, which I think is really clever, and it’s a steal at only $50! Grouping work-related pieces together against the wall allows better traffic flow around the desk without sacrificing access to the patio. I’m not sure if you have a dining table already, but if you don’t, this desk could easily double as one.

3. Play with colour
Your home has a contemporary look, so you should select pieces that blend with the streamlined architecture, then accent with some exciting bursts of colour. Since your desk is a rich cobalt, embrace that palette and inject some additional blue accents to perk it up. A multi-hued green-blue serving platter could be hung on the wall as a single focal point, or mount a group of three as a simple, inexpensive artwork alternative. A bolder, large-scale lamp would look wonderful on the desk, especially with a coloured shade like this teal one. You could even paint the office wall a rich cobalt colour. Once you’re done, you’ll never want to leave your new office with a view.

Get this look: Pavone platter, $40, Honeycomb lamp, $75, Pier 1. Expedit shelf, $80, and desk, $50, Ikea. Linen storage boxes, $49 to $79 each, Restoration Hardware.

Want to have your home design question answered? Email your questions to sarah@chatelaine.com.