How to Add a Home Office or Craft Space Anywhere

You don’t need an entire room to create an efficient workspace at home. See how 14 clever designers, architects and builders fit an office or craft room into spaces you’d never dream would accommodate one.

By: Amanda Lecky

Photo By: Kolanowski Studio; Design By: Morning Star Builders

Photo By: Kolanowski Studio; Design By: Morning Star Builders

Photo By: Randl Bye; Design By: Kathleen Appel, ASID, Hearth & Hedgerow Ltd.

Photo By: Randl Bye; Design By: Kathleen Appel, ASID, Hearth & Hedgerow Ltd.

Photo By: NEAT Method

Photo By: Stephani Buchman Photography; Design By: Christine Da Costa, Decor by Christine Interior Decorating & Design

Photo By: Karen Knox, Making Spaces

Photo By: Christa E. O’Hara; Design By: Amanda C. Eck, Amanda Carol Interiors

Photo By: Rett Peek; Design By: Kathryn J. LeMaster, Kathryn J. LeMaster Art & Design

Photo By: Marissa Belle Photography; Design By: NEAT Method

Photo By: Whit Preston; Design By: Hugh Jefferson Randolph, AIA, Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects

Photo By: Sharon Riesdorph; Design By: John Lum, John Lum Architecture

Photo By: Michael Biondo Photography; Design By: Shelley Morris, Shelley Morris Interiors

Photo By: Sarah M. Young; Design By: Miggy Mason and Roisin Giese, Twelve Chairs

Photo By: Thomas Kuoh; Design By: Studio Revolution

Photo By: Mi Elfverson; Design By: Cathy Phillips, Cathy Phillips & Co.

Photo By: Donna Dotan Photography; Design By: Workshop APD; Construction By: Hanley Development

Fold It Into the Laundry Room

Careful planning and ingenuity helped Morning Star Builders fit an office and wrapping station into a narrow laundry room. “The custom pull-out cabinet was designed by a trim carpenter with heavy duty drawer glides. The inner parts came from Proslat. And, believe it or not, the wrapping station was created using a paper towel holder and hooks,” say the team at Morning Star Builders.

Fold It Into the Laundry Room

When it’s laundry time, the craft and wrapping supplies slide into the custom cabinet so they don’t take up valuable space.

Hang It Up

To turn a small bedroom into a multifunctional space, designer Kathleen Appel took a hard look at the room’s existing features. “The room had two closets, and one was cedar-lined and visually interesting,” says the designer. She chose that one to turn into a home office and craft area, removing the doors but leaving the closet rod intact. “I found shelves and a cork board that could hang from the rod using iron hooks,” she says.

Hang It Up

A close-up of the cedar-lined closet shows how designer Kathleen Appel cleverly used an existing rod to hang office essentials.

Tuck It Into a Closet

Most homes don’t have the square footage for a designated craft room, but many have an underused closet or two. The organizers and designers at Neat Method transformed this closet into crafts-central by adding inexpensive shelving and matching bins and jars to create a visually pleasing and practical effect. “You must be inspired by your space in order to use it,” say the designers. “But function is key — so labeled bins and containers make it easy to see what you have (so you won’t over-buy) and to put things away where they belong.”

Fit It Into an Alcove

Have an awkward recessed space someplace? Many homes, new and old, do. These nooks are ideal for repurposing as a work space for adults or for kids, like this one, designed by Christine Da Costa as part of a full basement renovation. “It was key that both kids in the family have their own place to study, so we included a double desk,” she says. A shelf spanning the width of the alcove helps define the study zone — and adds storage and display space.

Build It Into a Bedroom

“This simple home office was put together in less than a day on a tiny budget,” says designer Karen Knox. “By using drawer units the owner already had and an old desk top, we created a small work space. We used leftover paint and painter’s tape to create a geometric pattern on the desk top, then coated it with clear sealer,” she says. A floating shelf and some simple desk accessories finish the job for a song.

Link It to a Living Area

For a photographer who needed an at-home space for photo-editing and client meetings, designer Amanda C. Eck took care to balance practicality and style. A long table holds two computer monitors, but the desk chairs are modern upholstered styles. Storage for office supplies hides inside the white-painted dresser. And a small table with two delicate chairs is perfect for client consults. The result works efficiently, but flows easily with nearby living areas.

Co-opt a Corner

An office doesn’t have to be large to be effective. In a diminutive space off the kitchen of an Arkansas home, designer Kathryn LeMaster created a “small but highly functional” home office, infusing it with a colorful personality that reflects her client and makes her want to work and create in the cheerful space. “My tip for incorporating an office space into virtually any room is to make sure you're utilizing as much vertical space as possible. Here, we were able to repurpose the old laundry room cabinets by removing the doors to create open shelving for all of her supplies,” says LeMaster.

Claim a Cabinet

Super short on space? Even a single cabinet can become an office or craft space — as long as there’s an open table nearby. “Smaller craft spaces are even more imperative to keep neat,” say the organizers at Neat Method. “If your children will use the supplies, make sure they’re easy to move from the cabinet to the craft or work area. And, a pop of color can add a fun surprise when you open the doors.”

Slide It Under the Stairs

The area underneath a staircase can be a natural spot for storage — or an office. In this compact workspace — it’s just 6’ 2” wide by 3’ 5” deep — designed by Hugh Jefferson Randolph, built-in shelving and a U-shaped work surface create plenty of room to take care of business. “The wood used on the office walls is reclaimed shiplap original to the home,” says the architect. “The flooring is also the original tongue-and-groove, but with a new custom blackened stain. It’s hard to believe the flooring is over 75 years old.”

Keep It Connected

In a family home, it can be important for the parents to maintain a sense of contact with their children, even when working. Such was the case in this cleverly constructed home office designed by John Lum. “Our clients wanted to have a study that would allow them to be part of the family activities when their children were present, but also the flexibility to close off the area when they wanted privacy or just didn’t want to clean up their desks,” says the architect. “We solved the problem by designing sliding Lumicor panel doors for this cozy nook that shield the occupants inside — while allowing natural light to come in — when closed.“

Mix It Into a Man Cave

For clients with grown children living in their “dream house” in Naples, Florida, designer Shelley Morris created a space she describes as a dual home office and man cave. “The home office had become the husband’s sanctuary-within-a-sanctuary,” she says. To make it feel extra special, “We selected a Farrow & Ball paint in a high-gloss mid-tone blue to wrap the room. The space feels cozy and cool all at once.”

Shelve the Idea

When a writer and avid reader moves into a smaller space, finding room for book storage and work can be a challenge. But designers Miggy Mason and Roisin Giese took it in stride. “Taking our client's functional requirements into consideration, we designed a custom built-in desk that offered plenty of workspace for writing. We tucked it into a small niche right next to our client's library of books. To complete the library we added a rolling library ladder: a beautiful piece that elevates the design of the living room and which also addresses the everyday needs of our client's home office space,” they say.

Smarten Up a Storage Space

“We created this home office space for our client from a closet space in her guest bedroom,” say the designers at Studio Revolution. “Less is more when it comes to this office niche: We used Ikea cabinets above the desk to hide the usual office space clutter, which keeps the space minimal and clean.”

Camouflage It

For a client who works from home occasionally and needed a desk, plus room for file and equipment storage, designer Cathy Phillips created what she terms an “office-in-a-cupboard” along the back wall of a living room. When the office is not in use, the desk folds up and bi-fold doors slide closed to hide the contents; painting the doors and shelves in the same gray as the walls helps the office blend in. “The trick is to find a place — the end of a corridor, a nook in the kitchen or an unused area in the living room, as here — and find a carpenter who can work with you to create something that is practical when in use and unobtrusive when not,” says Phillips.

Give It Privacy

Set just outside the master bedroom, this cozy room serves a dual purpose as a home office and lounging space. “When designing a home office, it’s important to consider the function of the space,” say the builders. “This room can be fully closed off for privacy during a phone call or opened up to become part of the master suite.”

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