WFH: make a work space at home that works

Working from home looks set to be the norm for many of us for the forseeable future. Obviously making an office space in a tiny flat isn't easy but with a bit of ingenuity it's possible. And meanwhile rejoice that by not travelling you're reducing your carbon footprint.....

By Laura May
Sonya Winner rug small home office

If you've got a large house with spare rooms then making a home office is easy, but it's a lot more tricky when space is tight. Pictured above: a space by the stairs becomes an office, enlivened by a colourful geometric rug from Sonya Winner

Many of us face working from home for months ahead. For lots of young renters, they say that means perching on the end of their bed, laptop on knee. Not ideal, so what can be done to make the experience bearable if you're in a small space? We look at four (eco-friendly) ways to update your workspace: 

Invest in the right furniture

If you’re working from the kitchen table, or the sofa, then it’s probably time to set yourself up with a proper desk and workspace. It’s important to have a tidy, organised space so you can stay focused through the day.

Keep an eye on second-hand shops/Facebook Marketplace/ Gumtree/ Ebay for inexpensive pieces of furniture you can repurpose or upcycle. Repaint a tired looking table or desk with chalk paint to update it, or buy new fabric to recover old chairs and cushions. You may need to find an upholsterer for the latter, but if you're fairly handy there'll be a YouTube video on how to recover a chair seat, for example.

Buying new home office furniture can still be eco-friendly - look for desks/tables made from reclaimed or FSC-cert wood, or birch ply. A German company well worth checking out is Mueller Moebel ( which makes fantastic small space furniture using birch ply, as does UK maker Lozi.

Try not to opt for toytown-size pieces, for example choose a desk with space for a computer and cables, ideally with drawers for stationery, paperwork and other bits. Alternatively look for furniture that is multi purpose or with collapsible legs so you can store it flat against a wall or under a sofa at the end of the working day. DaAls ( has a good-looking compact folding desk (MDF top and steel legs) for £45.99. And if you're not staying put for long, a cardboard desk could be the answer (try Not the most beautiful but they are sturdy, practical - and super eco because they are 100% recyclable so will never end up in landfill.

You can find affordable good quality office furniture from places such as Furniturebox, Wayfair and Habitat, which will prove durable. Really cheap mass produced furniture won't last long so it's best avoided, whether it's made from chipboard or plastic. And regarding the latter look for rotation moulded polyethylene pieces. It's a manufacturing technique that uses minimal amounts of plastic and it's easily recycled plastic.

Fold-up/down wall-mounted desks are brilliant for small spaces

Flatbox wall mounted desk from Mueller Moebel, 698 euros
et up for a workspace. Flatbox from Mueller Moebel
Skinny from Mueller Moebel, 198 euros. Shelf with magazine storage, just 44.7cm high x35cm width.
Hideaway Wall Desk, made from wood, £290.40 from
Eco friendly cardboard desk at Equip4Work, £43.20
Compact desk which folds flat, £45.99 at
Uk maker Lozi uses birch ply. Their U desk is wall mounted to take up less space

Choose the light spot

Lighting is so important for your office space so locate your working space in the area that gets most natural light. Not only does day/sunlight improve your mood but you also won’t need to switch on the lights as often.. keep that electricity bill down! If you don’t have big windows, or you can’t move your office space easily, then invest in mirrors to reflect light around the room.

Use LEDs, the most energy-efficient bulbs. Have a good desk/task lamp with an adjustable head so you can see clearly what you're doing. John Lewis has very affordable desk lamps with adjustable heads, or if you can afford to splash out, an Anglepoise desk lamp will prove invaluable. The Anglepoise Mini costs under £100 and takes up very little space on a desk.


John Lewis' Elliott task/desk lamp, LED, £60
Anglepoise Mini is just 40cm high. Integrated LED light source, 20,000 hours of light
Kentia Palm from Patch Plants

Add plants to your office

Another healthy and eco-friendly way to update your home office is to add some house plants...real ones, of course. Putting plants into your workspace will boost your mood, improve indoor air quality and choosing colourful plant pots will add some decoration. Don’t worry if you don’t think you're green-fingered enough to keep indoor plants alive - plenty of houseplants are super easy to care for such as parlour palms, succulents, and spider plants.

Consider buying a collection of beginner houseplants - try Gardening Direct, Patch Plants, Barry's Cactus Club or Hortologyand they’ll come in pots with care instructions ready to update your home office.

Get rid of clutter

Working on a cluttered, messy desk makes it hard to focus and reduces productivity. Updating your home office and making it easier to tidy up and organise will make a real difference to how you work.

Some things you’ll always want at hand, so try to repurpose other items to create storage on your desktop. For example, you could reuse empty cans or glass jars to keep your stationery neat and tidy. Try to avoid buying plastic items that are harder to mend or can’t be recycled if they break. Stop gathering piles of paperwork and use a desk tray to keep things organised. Put up a noticeboard for important reminders and notes instead of having lots of different sticky notes stuck to every available surface. Or opt for a paper free life to keep your desk clear at all times, in which case try online notebooks, such as Evernote, and calendar apps.

From repurposing old furniture to choosing sustainable items and cutting down your resources, there are plenty of eco ways to update your home. Get used to following them and you’ll be able to keep your workspace neat and tidy!