The 7 Best Small Office Design Ideas To Make Your Space Feel Larger
It's the modern-day challenge we all face — to design office spaces that cleverly match the greatest efficiency with maximum functionality. But what does that mean when you haven’t got much space to work with?
With more and more businesses scaling down on office space, (and more and more people seemingly working from home), the need for clever design hacks within smaller spaces is even more paramount.
Even recently, we've seen major global companies like Google redefine their once grandiose office fitouts — to better reflect the current climate of working conditions and the specificity of modern workspaces.
So these days, when you're working "in the office", you essentially want to elevate the working experience.
And no matter your office space, from humble to huge, there are a number of simple ways in which small shifts can generate significant differences in the overall feel and appearance. And that's where we come in — to help you get more, out of less.
As designing and delivering office fitouts is our daily bread, we wanted to share 7 of the best design ideas to help you make your office space feel larger, more expansive and create the kind of healthy and productive environment that you'll be excited about working in — whenever you get the chance.
But first things first, where’s the coffee machine supposed to live…?
1. Get Smart With Storage
Do you really need those five metal filing cabinets along the wall? No. Given that most of your important files are now stored in digital clouds, there's no need to clutter up precious floor space with cumbersome pieces of occasional furniture.
Be clever about your storage options. Items not frequently used could be kept beneath desks, placed inside decorative planter boxes, perhaps even positioned within your kitchen joinery — just ensure you're not simply adding extra units around the office when you're space poor. You could also opt for accent furniture pieces with multiple functions — like a storage unit that can double as a bench.
Also, storing things on the floor can make the office seem more cramped and cluttered – so think off the ground. Instead, add some shelving up higher to the ceiling. Asides from being great for storing items, it draws the eye line up and makes your office ceiling seem much higher. (And if they can appear to be floating shelves, even better.)
2. Don’t Go Crazy On Colour
Adding a kaleidoscope of colours into your office design won't transport people into an enchanted work haven; because quite simply, it has the opposite effect.
The busier the palette, the more space it's taking up – in the eyes and in the mind. The best way to decorate is to keep it simple, so stick with using 2-3 colours maximum across your office fitout.
For instance, you could have two main wall colours, and perhaps a feature colour or timber grain that's used throughout your decor. And if you want to add the occasional splash of brightness, make that happen with a piece of artwork or office plant.
And while statement pieces of furniture can look great, when you're space poor they should be the last things to consider. The same goes for rugs with busy patterns.
Neutral colours work best at making any indoor space feel larger and brighter – particularly on the walls. So if you want to be bold with choices, just ensure you're striking a nice balance and not closing off your space too much by adding darker coloured murals and enclose the aesthetic.
3. Less Rooms, More Uses
When the boardroom can be the meeting room, it allows more room for the workroom. Understand? You get double the functionality.
Consider all the different areas of your office fitout and how you can best utilise them for multiple uses – minimising the amount of wasted space.
In sections of your office that scarcely get used, think about repurposing the area into a practical workstation, or small breakout meeting area. In an open-plan office, you could even employ a designated “phone zone” for taking calls.
If in doubt, less is more. Adding more walls or partitions is rarely the answer, and frankly never the answer in a smaller office space. Remember, partitions and walls don't just close off areas, they close off the mind too, quickly making your space feel claustrophobic and enclosed.
4. Keep A Clean Layout
Symmetry does wonders for making any small space feel larger. So be sure only to keep a reasonable amount of furniture and fixtures — placed in an orderly layout. A clean, balanced look will minimise distraction and instantly feel less disorderly – in turn opening up space.
Also, too much contrast of items can equate to visual chaos. If there are tons of items mounting up around desks, on top of cupboards and across all surface areas – that's a big no-no.
Space is a commodity. Particularly in a small office. So if something is not essential to a work-related purpose, it doesn't need to be there. Be ruthless. Remove any items that are simply collecting dust and either store or dispose of them accordingly.
This also seems like a given, but mounting deliveries are a major culprit of taking up too much-needed office space. Open the packages, take what you need, and recycle or dispose of the packaging. No one gets inspired by the flatpack furniture boxes hanging around the office for months.
5. How Big Is Your Desk?
Consider your desk size. What needs to live on there? If it's simply a laptop, a notebook and a framed picture of your nephew, be honest — you don't need anything too large.
Keep desk sizes lean – they are already renowned for being bulky and taking up space. If you can get away with longer workstation rows instead of individualised desk cubicles – you'll save a ton of idle space. It will also make the space look less cluttered, another big plus for maximising the overall open space aesthetic.
Also, when organising desks or designating work areas for your staff, consider streamlining them to create hot-desking areas. This will not only help create much-needed extra space but will ensure that when you have team members working out of the office, the desk space will always be filled. Let's face it, how often will everyone be in the office at the exact same time? (Probably never, unless there are free drinks in the evening.)
6. Go Wireless
Given that so many work devices now are cordless, it's worth upgrading to go wireless wherever possible.
Use monitor arms and laptop stands to get screens up off desks. Not only good for human ergonomics, it gives a much cleaner look and can help make the office appear tidier, even if it isn't.
Say goodbye to the mass of wires hanging out of the wall for the projector. Opt for a Google Chromecast to cast your presentation to a wall-mounted TV screen. Not only will it look more desirable, but it’s also surprisingly more affordable.
By opting to be as wireless as possible around the office, it reduces any eyesore, minimises any tripping hazards and frees up space for more essential items. Even the most straightforward things like a wireless mouse or Bluetooth keyboard can make the difference in allowing your staff to work freely— without combating other items on desks.
7. Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
Unless your own reflection is a constant distraction, incorporating mirrors into your office promotes a sense of openness and transparency — all great ways to make your workspace feel a whole lot larger.
In smaller office spaces, mirrors can create the illusion of added space, while brightening up the room by reflecting natural light.
Wall mirrors can also make for a great statement piece — and one that doesn't take up a lot of floor space. Remember, by mounting an ornate mirror frame on your wall, you can say a lot about your office, without saying anything at all. It’s no wonder prominent businesses use mirrors to intensify a sense of professionalism and mystique – they're also making their premises feel larger and grander.
Remember, when it comes to your office layout, size is not everything. These small changes to your current space can work wonders in making your office look and feel larger.
If you're ever in doubt, start by clearing out the clutter, and downsize where you can. And remember, no matter how vital the job description or title seems, nobody needs a giant desk. You'll always be surprised to know just how much space is lurking within your four walls.
And of course, if you’re looking to expand your office space and want some professional help – please get in touch!