Reader SOS – Living Room Turned Home Office

I’m back with another “DIY Playbook, Save our Space”. My plan for this series is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer design tips and tricks on how to improve it.

Here are some of my favorite design solutions from this series…

How Do I Turn My Living Room Into a Home Office?

Today’s design dilemma comes from Liz, who is also a Chicago gal. Liz has a living room that her husband uses as an office now that he works from home. As you’ll see, the space is rather large and even has a fireplace (how cool to have an office with a fireplace!), but it’s been tough for them to figure out a good layout for the large open space with lots of windows. Not to mention, they need some help with storage. Here’s what Liz had to say…

Liz’s Design Dilemma

Turning a living room into a home office

My dilemma is what to do with our front living room/home office space. It is the first room you see from our foyer and has been used as my husband’s home office for the past two years. It sounds like he will continue to be working from home, and the space literally drives me nuts with all the random clutter and lack of organization.

Before turning a living room into a home office

I’m actually in the middle of painting the fireplace the same moody dark blue (“Night Club” by Behr) and was staring at the space just thinking how the heck I can fix it.

How to make a home office space

My husband literally said, “Liz, you got that crazy look in your eyes!”.

before pictures: how to make a living room into a home office

The room is super bright and has these awesome windows that take up two of the walls. The piano is only used as decoration and doesn’t need to stay (it was left by the previous homeowners).

How to remove clutter and create hidden storage in a home office

Here are the basics that we are looking to get out of it:

  • Office space for my husband that is functional, but also looks nicer. His current desk is a vintage piece that is super cool, but quite small. Would be open to getting a new desk.
  • Better paper filing area/system
  • Additional seating.

The budget would be pretty open, especially if getting new furniture. The style for the rest of the house is “modern farmhouse” with more emphasis on the modern.

Living Room Turned Home Office

I liked Liz’s submission because this is a common problem people are having, as they try to figure out a functional office space, now that they work from home. The bones of this space are already so incredibly gorgeous with the fireplace, windows, and loads of natural light. What a dreamy place to work! I’m confident Liz can take it to the next level to create a workable home office space for her husband without it being an eyesore for her.

Here’s my gameplan for the space…

  • Find a larger desk and center it on the far wall.
  • Remove the piano and add a large wall of hidden storage with a filing system for office supplies and papers.
  • Incorporate swivel seating, a coffee table, and a loveseat to enjoy the fireplace.
  • Style the fireplace with a mirror and accessories.

The New Layout

Figuring out the new layout for the room was definitely the hardest task for this living room turned home office. While it’s a large room, it has many windows and a fireplace, so those elements limit the layout options. After staring at Liz’s pictures for far too long, I came up with this plan.

My floor plan for a new living room turned home office

I want to float a large desk on the far wall, add storage along the large wall, and then incorporate a loveseat, coffee table, and two chairs in the center of the room. Sometimes when you push all of the furniture up against the walls, it doesn’t do much for a space and you’re left with a big hole in the middle. Instead, I encourage Liz to utilize this space and make it work for her and her husband. Let’s dive into the details of how this will work…

The Desk Area

Right now, Liz’s husband has a small vintage desk, set up diagonally, on the far wall. While I love the desk, I think he needs a larger workspace and it’s the wrong scale for this large room. I’d move the desk to another area of the home and instead choose a larger desk or dining table for him to work.

I know what you’re thinking…a dining table? But what about storage? I’ll address the hidden storage in a bit. With the large desktop monitors and a laptop, having a large table to spread out makes for a nice work setup. I also think a table will keep things nice and airy on that side of the room. I love the above inspiration, showing a large table with two windows behind it. This wood table will give them the modern farmhouse style they love.

The Storage Wall

The wall opposite the fireplace has so much potential for hidden storage and I think Liz could take it in a couple of different directions.

Tips for shelf styling in your home

First, you know I love me some built-ins. I adore the ones we added to our home office because this was a fun DIY project and we now have both hidden storage and an area to display all of our favorite items. This could be a nice spot for something similar and I’d paint them dark, to match the fireplace color.

My best tips for turning a living room into a home office living room into
Photo via The Gold Hive

Or, if they’re not wanting to do something of that scale, I’d suggest a long and low console with plenty of storage. Ashley, from The Gold Hive, DIY’ed this amazing piece using IKEA pieces for her home office. In it, she stores everything from files, to her printer, photography supplies, and more. This would add lots of function to their home office and keep the clutter at bay. Plus, IKEA offers lots of different colors for this piece and she could put a few together to create a long wall of storage.

On top of the console, I would keep the styling minimal with two large lamps on each side and a few accessories and coffee table books in the middle. There are lots of options for the wall above it, including a gallery wall with various sized art and frames, or perhaps large format art.

Adding Seating

Photo via River and Bord

I love the idea of adding some cozy seating elements to this room so Liz and her husband can enjoy the fireplace and the rest of the room when he’s not working. I’d suggest adding two swivel chairs near the desk area. That way, the seats can face any direction, based on how they’re using the space.

Opposite the chairs, I’d put a small loveseat with a coffee table in between. This creates a cozy seating area that they can actually use!

Styling It All Up

Tips to style a fireplace
Sneak peek of this week’s Reader OMG! home tour

I love that Liz painted the fireplace a dark moody color and I think she can beautify that area of the room even more with the right accessories. This blog post has some great ideas and tips for styling a fireplace mantle. In this case, I’d opt for a large mirror over the fireplace and then a few small accessories and greenery. It is simple and uncluttered, just like Liz wants! I’d then choose a large 10×14 rug to anchor the living room space and make it feel cohesive and comfortable.

Living Room Turned Home Office – Design Plan

My design plan and mood board for a living room turned home office

Farmhouse Dining Table // Swivel Chair // Leather Loveseat // Marble Table // Rug // IKEA Console // Office Chair // Table Lamp // Large Art

I think this design checks off all of Liz’s boxes with a functional office space, hidden storage, and additional seating to make it a comfortable room for this couple. Not to mention, it stays true to their modern farmhouse style, while adding a bit of masculine energy with the leather furniture. I love it!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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