This article has been written by Andrei Vasilief – a professional architect and interior designer – to ensure maximum factual accuracy and to provide unique content.
Due to the recent global changes, many of us are now being forced to work from home.
This presents the challenge of finding a suitable working space for daily use.
If you have a spare bedroom, then the logical solution is to convert this spare room into an office.
But what if the room has limited space?
The best way to turn a small spare bedroom into an office is to plan the office from scratch – define the number of users, create a floor plan to place the essential features, use compact storage solutions, and factor in a sofa bed if some sleeping functionality is still required.
In the rest of this article, I have used my professional experience as an architect and interior designer to walk you step-by-step through the process of turning a spare small bedroom into a home office.
I have created this walkthrough on the assumption that you want to use the spare room almost exclusively as an office.
But if you need a room that will be used regularly for sleeping as well as office work, then click the link below because that article shows you multiple ways to split a small room more evenly between sleeping and working functionality – rather than a straight bedroom to office conversion as this article outlines.
Related: check out these 18 small guest bedroom and office combo ideas.
How to Turn a Small Bedroom Into an Office in 10 Steps
Follow these 10 steps to turn a spare small bedroom into a home office suitable for two workers:
1: Define the Number of Users – This Will Influence the Design
Home offices are quite versatile and can work in a number of different room types, but it is still important to choose a space that will maximize potential benefits.
It’s also important to ask the question, ‘how many people will use the office?’.
Small bedrooms are usually ideal for this type of office conversion.
The number of users should be your starting point: a home office is generally suitable for one or two people – any more will require a space much larger than a bedroom.
It’s also important to factor in how the two parties work – if the work involves regular calls or meetings, it will be difficult for two people to share the space.
A good-sized room for two people should have around 12 square meters, or 130 square feet, of floor space.
In a room this size, you can easily fit two good-sized desks, some storage, and a dedicated seating area.
The minimum would be around 10 square meters or 107 square feet, with the added observation that you would have to remove some of the amenities.
Going below that size is only feasible if the office is for a single person, which would have to be a minimum of seven square meters or 75 square feet.
We’re going to use an example of a small, 12 square meter room (130 square feet).
It has two windows on one wall, a single door, and a wooden floor with a wooden plinth, as well as recessed lighting.
The windows are almost floor-to-ceiling height, which allows for good daylighting.
Because of the size of the room, we will convert it into an office for two people.
Click here to see 18 of the best small bedroom and living room combo design ideas.
2: Decide Where to Put the Essential Features
Home offices have a set of specific features, which can be divided into essentials and optional features.
You should start by prioritizing the essentials before trying to fit in the optionals.
The essentials would be the desks, chairs, and storage.
Optionals refer to nice-to-have features that are not required for work, such as a seating area.
Start by thinking about where you should place the essential items first – you will need to take a few factors into consideration.
Firstly, you will want to make sure that the computer screens don’t directly face the light, and that all desks are close to plug points.
If it’s not possible for the screens to face completely away from the light, they should at least be positioned in such a way that light doesn’t hit them directly.
Keep in mind that you will require access to a few sockets; at least one for the computer, and additional ones depending on the equipment that you plan to use.
If two people want to use the office at the same time, having the desks either lined up or facing each other are good solutions.
Positioning desks back to back is potentially problematic, as the chairs may bump into each other.
Positioning both desks along the same wall works very well in most scenarios.
Once you have the desks positioned, see about positioning the storage unit.
It’s important to have one, as there will be various things to store in the office which should not be mixed with things in the home.
The size of the storage unit will vary depending on your needs – if you think it will work, simple desk storage might suffice, if not, look into getting a dedicated unit.
Once the essentials are placed you can see about fitting in any other optional features.
For example, for the seating, you can either opt for a sofa or armchairs, combined with a small coffee table.
We will work on the plan for this stage.
Using the plan of the room to sort everything out before making purchases is a great idea, as it can make the whole process go much smoother.
It’s one of the best steps you can take for a more pleasant and functional environment.
As we can see in the floor plan above, the door is not centrally placed so we plan to place the work area on the left wall.
We can place the storage behind the door, so it is a bit hidden and out of the way.
And since we want to make this office a bit more functional, we can also place a seating area on the right.
At this stage, we don’t have to decide what particular pieces of furniture to use; we are more concerned about functionality.
This layout will create a central path so the room will still be open, and will allow light to flow in at the same time.
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3: Choose an Appropriate Desk and Chair
You need to make a few choices before purchasing your desk.
You need to opt for either a standing, sitting, or adjustable desk, and select the appropriate size.
Standing desks are becoming increasingly popular, as they have a number of health benefits, especially for working from home, and sitting down all through the day can have a negative effect on your health.
But keep in mind that standing desks are more expensive, and also require good cable management to work properly.
In general, a good-sized desk would be around 150 x 70 cm or 60 x 28 inches.
This size has a few advantages which make it highly versatile: it can accommodate desk storage, a lot of layout options, from a laptop to a dual monitor setup, and it is still small enough that it should fit neatly into your chosen space.
Even if you wish to go for a standing desk, you will still need an office chair, as you won’t be standing all the time.
Selecting a chair is a very personal decision, so I recommend trying several different models out before making the choice.
Your final decision should depend on how you wish to sit, your height, and your posture.
Keep in mind that you will be spending quite a lot of time in this chair, so take your time in making the decision.
Since we have two people who will be using the space, we want to be able to accommodate two different sets of needs.
In this example, the first user will have a multi-monitor workstation and will work mostly sitting down.
The second user will work on a laptop and will engage in frequent calls.
Because of these requirements, we opt to go with two standing desks.
They both have standard dimensions and fit well in the room.
We decide to go with a standing desk for the first user as well, as we want to keep the desks identical to keep the office stylistically coherent, and also to encourage more movement.
As for the chairs, we choose a tall back chair for the first user, as they will spend more time seated, and a lower back height chair for the second.
This smaller chair will be more mobile, so the user can easily get it out of the way when standing, and it is also more comfortable for posture.
Stylistically, we make sure to buy both chairs in the same color theme – even though they are different, they go well together when paired like this.
I use this desk and this chair at the moment for my office.
4: Choose a Storage Solution That Suits You
Just like the office chair, choosing what storage to buy will depend on a lot of factors.
It’s important to consider what you will need to store; whether dossiers, books or something else.
An important consideration is that you want to fit everything inside the storage unit.
If a single storage solution will not suffice, consider adding a few smaller storage units under the desks as well.
Keeping everything in storage will make sure the room is kept tidy, and this will help with productivity, as well as ensuring that the office can be used anytime without requiring a cleaning session before starting work.
In this example, we opt for a small storage unit on wheels.
There aren’t many storage requirements for the office, so we implement a smaller unit and place it in the corner.
This means that the unit will be out of the way and hidden.
We also make sure that it’s not placed too close to the door, so the opening door will not hit it.
Being on wheels, it can also be repositioned easily if necessary.
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5: Select Additional Equipment
Once the desks and storage are chosen, think about any other potential equipment that you might need, such as a printer.
These can be large and might require their own area in the room.
Ideally, you want to store such things together, preferably within the storage unit, but that might not always be possible.
If it isn’t, try to keep everything as neat as possible without clutter.
It’s important to correlate this step with the previous ones to ensure a clean setup.
Based on the requirements, we also install a printer in the room.
We don’t go with the smallest one, but rather choose a more advanced model.
We place it on top of the storage unit, which ensures that everything is in one place.
Something to keep in mind is that a lot of modern office equipment now comes with built-in Wi-Fi, so it can be placed anywhere in the room.
Check out these 10 ceiling design ideas for a small bedroom.
6: Choose Lighting that Suits When You Work
As with every other room, lighting is very important in the office, as it has a direct impact on productivity and wellbeing.
With certain light fixtures, the temperature of the light should be considered, depending on a few factors.
First, think about when you work; is it mostly during the day or during the night?
Secondly, think about how you react to various light temperatures, and how they make you feel.
For example, very bright light might make you feel stimulated, and not able to concentrate.
On the other hand, a very yellow light might make you sleepy.
A good idea here would be to invest in a smart lighting solution that allows you to control the light temperature based on your needs.
Your working habits will not stay the same all year round.
Depending on the weather outside, season, and time of day, the way you work will change, and smart lighting solutions – like smart bulbs that you can control based on your needs – are a good solution to this problem.
In some situations, you can rely on the existing ceiling light, but introducing some additional accent or task lighting can be helpful for creating a more productive environment.
With regards to task lighting, you can introduce a floor lamp in the room, and for accent lighting, a good choice is to go for a monitor light, as it helps with productivity.
Alternatively, you can also go for a table lamp.
Because we already have recessed lighting installed in the room, we choose to add a single floor lamp in the space between the desks.
This will light up this area and act as an additional task light.
We choose a lamp that directs its light upward, to provide a softer alternative to the direct light provided by the recessed lighting already installed.
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7: Place the Desk Optimally
Desk placement is important – you can use the space far more effectively with good planning.
Having a good understanding of how you will interact with the room will help you in creating a better environment.
You generally have two options when placing the desk; either you face the wall or the window when sitting at the desk, or you could face in towards the room.
In the majority of cases, having the desks face outwards is more pragmatic.
It’s only possible to have the desks face inward if the size of the room allows it.
Keeping in line with this thinking, having the desks lined up along a wall usually makes the most sense.
If you line up the desks, don’t place them right next to each other; rather try to distance them a bit to create some separation between them.
This ensures that users each have their own individual space, and prevents items from migrating from one desk to another.
It also creates a bit more privacy.
In this situation, you can also look into dividing furniture if you think it would help.
Finally, place the storage unit where it makes the most sense, and where it is easy to reach and access.
Along with this, place any other equipment that you will require.
We look at alternative desk placements, to see if we could place the desks looking inward rather than outward.
The size of the room is not ideally suited to this, but let’s explore the option.
While it is somewhat feasible to place the desks like this, doing so will mean removing everything else, including the storage and any additional areas we have planned.
It will also make the room feel more cluttered, and mean that there would be very little space left for the chairs to move around.
Because of all these factors, it is very difficult to make a setup like this work outside of large spaces or rooms.
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8: Make Full Use of the Office – Add Seating if Possible
If the space allows it, it is a good idea to look into adding any other optional features that you might require.
Adding a seating area can make the office more versatile, and can be very beneficial, though this will depend on everyone’s individual working routine.
It can make the office usable outside of work time, as well as create a break space, or give you some additional options when working.
For example, you might move your laptop and work from the sofa, if you feel comfortable there.
It’s always a good idea to use a room to its fullest potential.
A sofa is the most versatile option, as it allows you to either sit or lie down.
You could also go with an extendable sofa that turns into a bed, which can turn the office into a short-term guest room.
Alternatively, you could use chairs or armchairs to create a seating space.
Adding a coffee table to this combination is also very helpful.
Ultimately, how you fill up the office will depend on your requirements and personality, so don’t be afraid to explore.
You can add anything, from exercise equipment to a dedicated video recording corner.
We add in a sofa, which fits neatly in the space between the storage unit and the window.
This will accomplish two things.
Firstly, it will allow a different way for users to interact with the space, so if they wish to take a call or a break, they can get up from their chairs and use the sofa.
Secondly, choosing an extendable sofa would allow the office to be converted into a temporary guest room if the need arises.
Aesthetically, we go for a dark green sofa.
This will bring a more dynamic element into the room, so that dark tones are not overly dominant, and by choosing a dark green texture, it still fits in with the overall colors.
Finally, we compliment this setup with a coffee table, choosing a smaller model so as not to take up too much space.
Click here to see the sofa bed I use.
9: Choose Décor Pieces and Create a Theme
Decorating the office is a simple but important step, as creating a pleasant environment will have a direct impact on productivity.
It’s important to remember to have a décor solution for the floor as well as the walls.
The floor is the simplest to tackle, as it can either be left open, or covered with a carpet.
Remember that the wheels of office chairs may damage your floors over time, so for the area under the desk, it’s a good idea to install a protective mat.
If you wish to go with a carpet, choose a simple design, not very heavy or overly decorative.
A simpler design can make the room feel more relaxed, and help you focus, while a heavy design can distract you.
There are 2 aspects to consider when tackling the walls; wall décor and windows.
For the windows, you can go with a simple curtain in the same color as the walls, as this usually works best, and will easily fit in with the room.
For the solid walls, consider having one or two larger artworks, or a grid of smaller ones, or simply leaving them blank.
Any artwork design should be simple and minimalistic, so as to help your focus, and not create distractions.
A final bit of advice would be about the layout of the desk.
Creating a color-coordinated desktop can make you feel more relaxed and focused.
This will not always be possible, but when it is, think about selecting peripherals and desk utilities to be as color-coordinated as possible.
So for example, if you have a black laptop, consider also using black peripherals, such as a keyboard and monitor.
You can also play around with this further, and choose a color-coordinated wallpaper.
Here we add a singular large artwork piece on the wall next to the door.
A single piece will keep the room light while adding a bit of décor and personal touch.
We leave the wall behind the sofa blank on purpose, to provide a clean background for conference calls.
Beneath the sofa, we add a small carpet which will make the room feel more comfortable.
We make sure to leave the area under the desks clear, so as to prevent problems with moving the chairs.
If you wish to install carpet under the desk, be sure to cover a large enough area so that the chair does not move from the carpet to the floor, as that can cause issues.
Finally, we arrive at the desks: for the first user, we opt to go with as much black as possible, as it is more feasible to find monitors and peripherals in the same color.
Using a generally black theme, along with the black chair and wooden desk allows for a general aesthetic that makes everything feel tied together.
For the second user this is trickier, as they use a laptop, and finding a model with a specific color is not always achievable.
So we rather stick with the general white theme.
As a finishing touch, we add a plant in the space between the desks.
This will act as a separator, and create a bit of privacy.
It is also very useful during calls, focusing the view on just a part of the room.
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10: Factor in Sleeping Functionality if Appropriate
In this article, I have shown you how to convert a spare small bedroom into a home office – where the exclusive final function of the room is that of working.
However, if you want to still use the space for sleeping then you will need to factor in a bed and a mattress.
In a small bedroom that has been converted into an office, you will likely be limited in terms of space.
Some of the best space-saving sleeping solutions, in this case, are as follows:
Conclusion: Keep It Simple
Converting an existing bedroom, or any room into a bedroom, is a straightforward process, and with a bit of professional help, you can turn any room into a professional office space that will ensure that you stay productive throughout the day.
With the recent changes the world has faced, home offices are quickly transitioning from a luxury to a necessity, and being equipped to deal with this will ensure a boost in your professional life.
The great advantage here is that a startup office is a sparse environment, making it very achievable on almost any budget.
It can also work in almost all situations with existing finishes, so there is very little requirement for complicated renovation work to change finishes or do complex interventions.
Furthermore, in most cases, the existing lighting system is quite adequate and does not need replacing.
And with previously expensive technologies such as smart lighting becoming more and more accessible, you have a wide array of options at your disposal to further tailor what is already in the room to suit your needs.
Keep things simple and straightforward, and do research into existing solutions to see how they can fit your needs.
Keep all this in mind and you will have no problem creating the perfect home office.
Up next: 8 budget-friendly decorating ideas for small bedrooms.
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
Through in-depth research and analysis, Dan’s goal with this website is to help others avoid such pitfalls by creating the best online resource for helping you find your ideal mattress, bedding, and bedroom furniture.
Dan is a qualified NVQ Level 2 Fitness Instructor with 6 years’ experience helping clients improve their health through diet, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene.
He also holds several college and university-level qualifications in health sciences, psychology, mathematics, art, and digital media creation – which helps him to publish well researched and informative product reviews as well as articles on sleep, health, wellbeing, and home decor.
Dan also has direct personal experience with insomnia, anxiety, misophonia (hypersensitivity to sounds), and pain from both acute and long-standing sporting injuries – he enjoys writing insightful articles around these subjects to help fellow sufferers of such conditions.
Learn more about Dan here.