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Small apartment desk ideas to help keep your work life separate

With more companies allowing their employees to work from home than ever before, a home office space has become a “must-have” vs. a “well that would be nice.” Converting a spare bedroom or a den into a home office is not that difficult, but setting up an office area in a small apartment can be a bit trickier. 

Here we break down some ideas on incorporating desks into your living space that won’t take up too much room. With a bit of creativity, desk alternatives can be functional for office work and still work as living space.

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desk in bedroomPick a logical spot

If you live in a one-bedroom apartment, one logical place for an office is in the bedroom. The bedroom works because you don’t have to worry about packing items away if you have visitors.

A small desk in the bedroom can do double duty as a dressing table. Hang a mirror or some artwork on the wall above the desk, keep items you use while getting dressed in an organizer or basket, and voila; instant dressing table for when the desk isn’t used for work.

If you don’t have room for a desk to function as a desk/dressing area, a nightstand works, too. Make sure to get one large enough to place a chair underneath (for when you are using it as a desk) and a table lamp (for when you are using it as an actual nightstand). Or, use a pendant light or wall sconce for illumination and free up all of that space.

For office work in the bedroom or elsewhere in your apartment, use stylish storage like wicker baskets—these baskets are deep enough that you don’t need to worry about items spilling over the top. If baskets aren’t your thing, decorative boxes with lids work just as well.

man with computer at tableThe kitchen option

If the kitchen table is your only office option, then, by all means, get storage like wicker baskets or decorative boxes so you can pack your office away.

If you have an empty wall, put it to good use and mount a shelf at counter height. With counter height stools underneath, you have just created a dining and office space. Maybe you don’t want to drill holes into your wall. That’s okay; get a small bistro table with two chairs and use it as an office and as your breakfast spot.

desk under stairsUtilize irregular space

Look at your apartment’s space with a critical eye. We think you’ll find plenty of odd little nooks and crannies where you can fit a home office. The small hallway leading to the entryway? Sure, why not! Or, move a chair to that table at the entryway to use as a desk in the daytime. As soon as your workday is over, pack up the chair (and your work materials) to claim your entryway back.

Ladder desks have a vertical footprint which makes them great for use in odd or irregular spaces. They can also easily fit in in a hallway or a closet.

Speaking of closets, if you have an extra one, they make a great solution to a home office in an apartment. You can shut the door (assuming your closet is big enough) and shut work away at the end of the day. If you choose to convert your closet into an office, you might want to spruce up the walls. Staring at a blank wall can be depressing so go out of your way to use some nice artwork on the wall to hold your interest. If you are using a ladder desk or vertical shelves next to a desk, use some decorative items in addition to work items.

What about the empty wall by your staircase? Transform it into a functional office by adding a desk and storage. If you need a place to stash paperwork, find furniture-style filing cabinets that fit in with your decor.

Corner desks are an option, too. Most of the time, we put decorative items or plants in the corner. A corner desk takes up little space, and with a lamp and a plant on top, it can fit nicely into the general decor of your apartment.

Living room statement offices

If you have a table or sideboard behind the couch in the living room, there’s definite office potential there. There’s also likely storage there, too. If you don’t have a table there, you may have room for one. A lamp can be used while you are doing office work and as illumination when you sit on the couch relaxing with a magazine.

Maybe you don’t have space behind your couch. That’s okay; a narrow desk with taller legs and a drawer or two can convert a window area to an office with a view.  If you have the room, get a statement desk and own that home office. Place a throw rug under the office area to delineate it as a separate space and get a nice office chair so you are comfortable.

If you have to set up an office in your apartment, take a critical look at your space and figure out the best area to use. There are plenty of options that work and won’t take up precious space or take away from your home’s aesthetic.

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Kathleen Ostrander
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kathleen has worked for United Press International and she's written about everything from style to pets for newspapers…
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