This month we have enlisted the help of lifestyle journalist and blogger Caroline Allen to share her home office decorating ideas on a budget. Caroline started her interiors Instagram account, @lifesatfiftynine, in 2019 where she documents her home renovation journey. Having recently decorated her office space, we thought Caroline was the perfect person to take over the Zebra Homeware blog and share her top tips for decorating your office space on a budget.
Many of us have found ourselves unexpectedly working from home over the past few months. Although this comes with its perks – no commute, for a start – many people have found themselves working at the kitchen table or on the sofa.
Sure, that way of working is fine for a couple of weeks, but as some companies now look to a more flexible working environment, it’s time to get a bit more serious about our home office set ups.
I work from home full-time, so I know the benefits of a good set up. There’s nothing more demotivating than a home office environment that doesn’t bring you joy.
Here are my top tips on creating a space you love, whatever your budget.
I’m a big planner and I’ve found that spending time on the little details will help you save money in the long run.
Firstly, empty your space completely and look at it as a whole. Any products you find online will need to fit nicely into the room, so I like to get some masking tape and map out where each product will go. It’ll really give you an idea of sizing. There’s nothing worse than buying an oversized desk and realising that you don’t have the space for a chair, for example.
On the subject of space, it’s unlikely you’ll have a huge room to play with for your home office. They’re usually box-room size in a home.
With that in mind, it’s important to give the illusion of space and there are a couple of quick ways you can achieve that.
First up, if you have coving or a skirting board on your walls and don’t want to remove it, paint it the same colour as the walls. This gives the illusion of higher ceilings. For me, space = calmness and calmness = a productive work environment.
Secondly, try to buy furniture that has legs, to maximise how much of the floor you can see. This will really help give the illusion of space, even if there isn’t a lot of it.
I’m a big fan of shopping for the little details of my home on Etsy, but you might be surprised to know that some of my favourite big items in my home come from the online marketplace.
People always assume that bespoke furniture will cost a lot more than buying it from a bigger retailer, but you’d actually be wrong. Many of the bespoke pieces in my house were bought for a fraction of the price of the high-street equivalent and they were made exclusively for me.
I love Elizabeth Dot Design and Storm Interiors for really great prices on bespoke furniture.
The most important thing – although this is not very exciting – about a home office is the ergonomics. You need to have a good chair. We even spent a bit of extra money on getting electric desks so that we can choose between sitting and standing throughout the day.
Invest in your health because these things really do matter in the long run. You can always save up for the smaller details at a later date.
Storage can be one of the most expensive parts of an office and it was something we were particularly worried about when it came to doing on home office renovation. Big cabinets don’t come cheap — or do they?
IKEA isn’t great for everything, but one thing you can’t go wrong with is its IVAR collection. The fully-customisable units are very affordable and are also great if you’re looking to add your own spin on them.
We’ve left ours in the solid pine style they came in, but the nature of the wood means you can paint it, add doors, add cool wicker storage boxes – really IVAR is your oyster and you can make them as big or as small as you need to. Everybody who comes into our office assumes we’ve had them made bespoke. It’s win-win.
My last tip – and something that has been particularly important to me when designing our home office – is to use natural colours.
I think colour can really impact an environment and using neutral and natural colours and fabrics will help you to feel calm in a room you may well be spending a large portion of your day in.
I’ve opted to decorate the space with pampas grass as my ‘flowers’ of choice, a natural woven rug and light woods. I never feel constricted in the space, which is the main aim here.
Follow Caroline’s homeware account @lifeatfiftynine for more interiors inspiration.