best apartment home office setup

Best Apartment Home Office Setup [2020 Ideas & tips]

Working from home (WFH) is making a lot of people re-design their homes. Apartments are notoriously small, even if they are on the comfortable side, so a lot of us really don’t have the luxury of assigning one room to be The Apartment Home Office.

Up until 2020, we carelessly used coffee tables to browse on the laptop. You could get away with poor lighting, scrolling up and down without a mouse, all while sitting on a couch in front of the TV. Maybe you liked reading in bed, with a cup of coffee on the nightstand. Comfort is the ultimate human goal, after all.

And that was OK. But, now?

Coronavirus has changed our lives profoundly. I have already written how stressful WFH can be, especially if you are writing your first eBook. If you are a Twitter employee, you will be home-bound indefinitely. Find other WFH employment ideas here.

If you are working from your small apartment home office, you definitely need more. You need more space, more lights, more gadgets, more silence. The only way you can achieve this is by re-arranging your living situation. Your apartment is now not only a living space but has to be a productive working space, as well.

That’s why you should re-think your apartment home office setup. Give my ideas a try, and let me know what you think. Hope this helps.

Best apartment home office location

Space

This is the most difficult part. It’s easy when you have a lot of extra space or even an extra room. But, very few have that luxury. What do you do when space is limited? Urban preppers would say Bug Out, jokingly.

Of course, it is easier if you live alone. Kudos to you!

Students with flatmates and working people with families are still the most usual living combinations in apartments.

When it is a luxury to assign one function to a single room, like an apartment home office, you have to be creative. People’s imagination can lead to really astonishing designs. Thinking outside the box is advisable when we don’t see a way out, a clear solution, but also when you want to entice creative and one of a kind answers. So, look forward to creating a unique apartment home office, not copied out of a lifestyle magazine.  To show you how creative people can be, look at some out of this world apartment office solutions, completely, unexpectedly smile-inducing.

Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

Divided area

One thing is certain — you need to work in peace. You have to isolate yourself while working from home. Working doesn’t go well with kids and pets around, unfortunately. Find a space in your apartment that is least used, and claim it. Some people have separate hallways through which people only pass quickly.

I realized that I am the only one really using the kitchen, for cooking, you know. My husband, when he comes to the kitchen, usually just opens the fridge door, looks inside, and asks me helplessly — what’s for dinner? So, I found a spot by the window, where I put my apartment home office. I feel like I’m in heaven while working. Seriously.

When we first started living together, I had a cute apartment home office set up in the bedroom. The bedroom is really only used at night, it just sits empty all day. If you have a separate bedroom, think about installing a Murphy bed. When you wake up in the morning, push the bed up, and free the space for other activities. You’ll think of some, I’m sure.

People are full of creative ideas. I have seen a man working from home in a tent set up in his living room. Another picture showed a man installing nice shower curtains across a room, to divide his apartment home office. Whatever works for you, do it. Find your cubicle, enjoy working.

If you don’t have much room for an apartment home office, you can separate the workspace with paravan room divider.

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Destruction before creation. Before you start buying new furniture, start with removing the old one. Move out everything you don’t need, or like, keeping only the essentials. Create a blank slate that can inspire you to think clearly, and imagine a productive apartment home office more easily.

Our possessions possess us.

This is how we let go.

If a thing stops adding value, sell it.

If it doesn’t sell in a week, lower the price.

If it doesn’t sell in 30 days, donate it.

If a donation place doesn’t accept, recycle it.

If it can’t be recycled, trash it (as a last resort).

Once we let go, we’re able to move on.

How to Let Go of Possessions By Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (The Minimalists)

Minimalism helps

Embracing Minimalism will change your life. Minimalism helps both tight and no limits budgets. Having only a few quality items can help you achieve the highly desired sense of style.  I encourage you to find like-minded people who support you to buy less and only items that you really need, but of good quality and timeless design that will make your apartment home office stand out.

Design

With the old furniture gone, draw a design. Sketch or compile inspirational photos of home offices. Think about the colors and materials you like. If you can, now is the time to re-paint the room, put new wallpapers and new curtains. My advice is to keep your apartment home office in neutral and stay away from screaming yellow, bright pink, and gold, for example.

Whites, greens and blues are not distracting, and timeless. If you prefer wood, surround yourself with wooden furniture and wicker baskets. If you like more modern lines, choose a concrete-like desk surface and gray walls.

Of course, you could go in the opposite direction, following in the steps of Jetsons, the modern version of Flintstones. Visit our Facebook page to remind yourself of their non so unordinary now life.

Feng Shui

After having read an article Feng Shui desk for success, I tried putting all of the things on my home office desk in new “correct” positions, just for fun. As I still use this setup, it must be working.

Feng Shui will help you with the organization, choosing the right colors, and objects that according to ancient Asian civilizations bring us health, wealth, and happiness.

Best apartment home office essentials

Chair

This is your number one priority. Get a good one. If you have enough money to buy only one item for your apartment home office, this should be it. Period.

As a professional writer, I spent a lot of time sitting over the years, on a variety of chairs. As I am writing this, it feels like I have been reviewing chairs for living. I can name four things that are important for comfortable sitting: back support, armrests, flexibility, and softness. The price is not the deciding factor.

  • Back support. A good ergonomic chair has a curve, meant to imitate your back. It has padded areas for better support. Don’t go for sleek, straight, futuristic design. You want to have a chair that secretaries have used for decades.
  • Armrest. Let’s say that you have been working from home on a project for hours. Whenever you take a short break, you can take your hands away from the keyboard, sit back, like in an armchair, relax and think. Without the armrests, your hands would just fall down, hanging next to your body without support, not comfortably at all.
  • Flexibility and softness. A good chair should have a lot of options for adjustment, wheels, and be soft to touch to provide maximum comfort.

Recommendations Seat cushion, Modway Edge Office Chair, Pilates Ball

Wild card — My boss swears by pilates ball. He tried a lot of different chairs, so I believe him. My only problem with a pilates ball is that it was too low for my desk and too big for my crowded apartment home office. And you can’t really inflate it and deflate it every day. Not me, anyway.

Tips. If you have back pains, it means that you don’t get enough support. If you have shoulder pains, it means that you are sitting too far from the desk. If you have neck pains, you should adjust the monitor height. For more information on correct posture, with illustrations, check out Humanscale’s guide. If you have stress-related problems WFH, read this article.

A brand name chair with a hefty price tag doesn’t equal comfort. I had an Ikea chair, with a nice curve and a simple aesthetic. But, because it was made of wood, unimaginably uncomfortable and cold.

best apartment home office accessories - lights
Photo by Shridhar Gupta on Unsplash

Lighting

It is ideal to put the apartment home office desk next to a window. It is a good idea to take advantage of the natural light as much as you can because artificial lighting strains the eyes. In case you can’t get much natural light in your room, start by putting one powerful light source for the whole room, like a really bright ceiling light. Then, add extra lights for your desk only. This way, you will avoid all poorly lit home office areas. This kind of lighting system is great for zoom calls, even filming videos.

Recommendations — I have only one option to offer you. One to rule them all! Mi LED Desk Lamp has been recommended to me, and I am very happy with it. 

Wild cardsCircadian Optics Lumos 2.0 Light Therapy Lamp, because SAD is a real disorder (not because I’m a  hypochondriac), BestCircle 40 LED Photo Clip String Lights.

Desk

Any desk will do. Honestly. You can splurge your money on an expensive designer’s office desk, but you don’t have to. As long as it’s the adult-sized desk, you’ll be fine. You can find one on Etsy, or ask for a donated desk from your friends, or family. If you are a gamer, your options have evolved. You should definitely explore your desk options for the best gaming results.

Recommendations Multipurpose Home Office Desk, Ashford Desk, Amherst Wood Writing Desk, Bauhutte gaming desk.

Tips. My advice is, if you are getting a desk with drawers just on one side, for right-handed people — drawers should be on the right side, and for left-handed people — on the left side. I had to donate my old apartment home office desk because there was not enough writing surface to the right side, and my mouse kept falling off.

For those who are fascinated by photos of a standing desk, even still, the ones that can be mounted over a treadmill. Stop. Don’t trade comfort for high step count. Working is hard enough. Staying focused is exhausting. Don’t put your body through more than it can take. If you need a walk, get up early, go to the gym, or take a refreshing walk with your dog.

Briefly, I tried a standing desk. Standing for hours just made me avoid the apartment home office completely. I couldn’t even enjoy playing solitaire in breaks.

Before you change your desk just because you got tired of its looks, you should try pimping it with cool stickers, or crystal handles. You could end up with a desk so unique, you will think about selling it on Etsy to earn extra money.

Storage

If one sight of a cluttered desk makes you want to scream — Serenity Now! — declutter Marie Kondo style. I found that the easiest way to achieve a clean WFH office is having a lot of storage, so everything has its place. I stay away from open shelving because cupboards with doors keep the mess out of sight best. I like to use all the space that I can in my apartment home office, so I mounted large cupboards above my desk, close to the ceiling. Choose smart and let your apartment home office spark joy.

Recommendations Elite stackable wall cabinet, Mobile file cabinet, Better Homes and Gardens Organizer.

Choose the best apartment home office technology

Mouse

If you have a laptop, a good mouse will help you work faster, easier, and better.

Recommendations Wireless Logitech Mouse and Keyboard Combo, Apple Magic Mouse 2, Bauhutte gaming mouse.

Keyboard

If you are using a laptop, you should consider using a keyboard with it.

Recommendations Fellowes Microban Split Design Wired Keyboard, Apple Magic Keyboard, Azio Retro Classic Bluetooth Mechanical Keyboard.

Tip. You can easily improve your typing skills with 10FastFingers. It is a fun and useful distraction during your breaks.

best apartment home office accessories - headphones
photo by Simon Abrams on Unsplash

Headphones

Your family, or roommates, have their own lives that they can’t just switch off when you need to focus. If you live alone, you may not be interested in the noise-canceling feature that drives up the prices. If you don’t live alone, invest in good quality noise-canceling headphones for peace of mind. You can even use them to help you sleep through loud snore.

Recommendations Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless, Bose SoundSport Free

Monitor

A big, wide external monitor is a game-changer. I own a laptop, but I also have a home office monitor mounted on the wall, a keyboard, and a mouse to make WFH easier. If you can afford a dual-screen monitor, even better. According to Jon Peddie Research, multiple displays can increase productivity by 42%. It’s no surprise why the usage of multiple monitors has steadily increased over time. Before you buy, think about your needs and budget. Read this latest tech review before you pull the trigger.

Recommendations Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ, Asus Designo Curve MX38VC, BenQ EX3203R

Multifunction printer

Getting an all-in-one printer is a great solution for an apartment home office. Imagine — printing, scanning, and photocopying, faxing, emailing all done with one capable device.

Recommendations HP LaserJet Pro MFP M227fdw, HP Envy 5055

Wifi system

When many users connect to the Internet at the same time, it is important to have the same speed. Wifi systems offer a reliable, secure connection with no dead zones in your home.

Recommendations Google WiFi System, NETGEAR (RBK30-100NAS) Orbi Whole Home Mesh WiFi System

best apartment home office accessories - mouse
photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Level up your apartment home office setup with new gadgets

Wireless charging 

Recommendations Anker Wireless Charger, Coobetter 3 in 1 Wireless Charging Station

Mousepad

Mousepads have evolved to unimaginable levels. There are huge, glowing, non-slip, made of leather, waterproof,  you name it. Why I am still using my ordinary mousepad, is a mystery.

Recommendations LUXCOMS RGB Soft Gaming Mouse Pad, Ultramarine PU leather mouse pad, Non-Slip Desk Pad, Waterproof PVC Leather Desk Table Protector

Footrest

It corrects posture, improves circulation, and more. A memory foam footrest is even better.

Timer.

It is easy to lose track of time. A fun timer can help you set working intervals, and liberate your poor numb limbs. When you are not using it in your apartment home office setup, use it for cooking or exercising. Just remember to eat healthy WFH.

PIMP your apartment home office setup to new levels

An ideal version of an apartment home office is highly personalized. Without any co-workers around, you are free to display your art, your hobbies, and your loved ones. Let go of the fear of judgment, or oversharing. In fact, it is encouraged to keep photos of your family members to help you get through the hard-working day. You can be as personal as you like — this is your space.

Board 

An apartment home office is unimaginable without a board, whether it is a whiteboard, corkboard, magnetic board, or good old-fashioned chalkboard. It is imperative to have one by your desk, to keep track of tasks, for reminders or inspirational quotes and photos. With a can of paint, you can make your own one, on the front of an old cupboard, for example.

Recommendations Chalkboard Brush-On Paint, VIZ-PRO Magnetic Whiteboard

best apartment home office accessories - Maneki-neko good luck charm
photo by Puck Milder Unsplash

Art

I put a Maneki-neko above my desk. It is a popular souvenir in Japanese and Chinese cultures because it is believed that it attracts happiness and wealth. It’s my home office good luck charm.

I didn’t want cluttered walls, so besides my shelves and inspirational board, there is only one more picture hanging on the wall in my cute apartment home office. It is a sailboat, gliding effortlessly across the violent ocean. I like it because of several elements — water, blue color, and the images of fragility, power, and perseverance.

Some people love Kinetic Art Balance Toys or Feng Shui Natural Rose Pink Quartz Crystal Money Tree Bonsai Style Decoration for Wealth and Luck

Music

In the real world, offices are rarely silent. There is mostly noise, chaos even. If your apartment home office feels a bit too silent, that can be counter-productive. Studies have shown that moderate noise levels produce the greatest creativity, baroque classical music can improve efficiency and accuracy, and music with lyrics can help with repetitive tasks.

It turns out that silence isn’t golden, and noise isn’t bad, after all.

Plants

I truly like plants, but I also deeply believe their place is not in your home office. To really purify the air, you need a whole bunch of plants. And to enjoy the health effects of greenery around you, you are better off on a lawn. People also tend to forget the watering part of keeping plants.  I wouldn’t recommend watering plants anywhere near your computer, cables, and electricity in general. Once, water started dripping from my heavily watered plant, placed right above the laptop. Never again.

Recommendations Opps Mini Artificial Plants, ELECOM Flower Stand Speaker Mount Holder

Coasters

You may have noticed that I didn’t mention any coffee machines so far. And I won’t. Coffee machines belong in the kitchen, but coasters and mugs, on the other hand, are welcome items on every apartment home office desk. Healthy eating habits are hard to maintain while WFH.

WFH basically means working with a coffee mug beside you, at all times. I seriously suggest using coasters. This way, you will not be tempted to put your mug anywhere and spill it eventually, which you will. Let your hobbies, favorite color, or wallet-size guide you.

Coaster ideas Star Trek TOS Fine Art Coasters Set, Lucrin, WhatEverULove Olive Wood Coasters, Ceramic Stone Coaster Set

Mug ideasYETI Rambler, Swig Life, Fellow Carter Everywhere Mug

Organize

Is your desk a hot mess? At least you’re in good company – Mark Twain, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Roald Dahl all had famously cluttered desks. Click on their names to read fascinating stories inspired by messy desks.

“if a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?

Albert Einstein

What do you think — are you a genius, like Einstein?

CONCLUSION AND INVITATION

It took a global pandemic to re-design my apartment home office. If this statement is true for you in 2020, then coronavirus isn’t all bad.

Never regret spending money on home office upgrades, because they will pay you back in health, wealth, and happiness.

Give us at Workooze your opinion on messy desks or, even better, share a picture of your apartment home office. We would love to see how other people work, and what helps them get through the working day.

Invitation

Today I got an email from Harvard Business Review, inviting me to a webinar, being a Women at Work newsletter subscriber.

As a true believer in equal rights for all, I would like to extend the invitation to everybody interested — How to Address Gender Inequity in Your Organization. Wednesday, September 16, 2‌0‌2‌0 • 12:‌0‌0‌ PM Eastern Time (ET).

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Home office of Deacon Phillippe on Instagram
Home office of Deacon Phillippe on Instragram

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