21 Smart Ideas for Putting a Desk in a Living Room

living room desk

Design by Caroline Andreoni Interior Design / Photo by Sophie Lloyd

Working from home is a modern challenge that is also a decorating opportunity to personalize your workspace without regard for office rules or norms. While some people are lucky enough to have dedicated home offices—whether big and small—most people have to get creative to make it work.

This might mean converting the guest room or bedroom into a hybrid workspace. But it often means finding a corner of the living room—which is usually the biggest room in the house—to slide in a desk without wrecking your decor and ruining the vibe of what is supposed to be a room devoted to gathering and relaxation. There are multiple ways to approach this living room layout dilemma, from doing your best to make it blend in by making it cohesive with the rest of your decor, to making it a design feature that takes pride of place, making itself feel at home while it helps you to get your job done.

Here are some ideas for finding a place for your desk in the living room that doesn't wreck your decor or change your style.

  • 01 of 21

    Opt for a Secretary Desk

    living room office

    Etch Design Group / Sophie Epton Photography

    A secretary desk is an easy choice for a living room office. These sleek and discreet pieces of furniture take advantage of vertical space and fold up and out of sight at a moment's notice, like this secretary desk with plenty of storage placed by the window of a living room from Etch Design Group.

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  • 02 of 21

    Use Bold Color

    living room office

    Design by Studio Peake

    In this traditional living room from London-based Studio Peake, a comfortable desk with a desk top computer is positioned against the wall opposite the seating area, so it can double as a TV once the workday is over and it's time to binge your favorite show. When the screen is off, a colorful movie poster creates a focal point. A navy velvet upholstered chair that fits in with the room's red, blue, and white palette helps it feel cohesive, and a table lamp instead of a desk lamp makes the work station feel homey.

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  • 03 of 21

    Hide in the Dark

    living room office

    Design by Urbanology Designs / Photo by Matti Gresham Photography

    The built-in desk and storage wall in this contemporary living room from Urbanology Designs is painted in the same dark hue as the rest of the space, inviting deep work and concentration. Styling shelves with books and objects complements the adjoining gallery wall for a cohesive feel.

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  • 04 of 21

    Be Transparent

    living room office

    Design by Jenn Pablo Studio

    This home office from Jenn Pablo Studio has a glass-top desk that is placed against the large floor-to-ceiling windows of this midcentury modern-style living room, giving it a transparent, barely there vibe without sacrificing on comfort. Lightweight curtains can be pulled closed if the light gets too harsh or you find yourself spending too much time gazing at the backyard.

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  • 05 of 21

    Choose a Midcentury Wall Desk

    living room office

    Design by Emilie Fournet Interiors / Photo by Kasia Fiszer

    Emilie Fournet Interiors added lavender wall paint and a vintage midcentury modern modular wall unit to this Victorian house living room to create a home workstation opposite the seating area. The unit includes open and closed storage, warm wood tones, and authentic vintage vibes that still feel modern and covetable today.

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  • 06 of 21

    Keep It Small

    living room desk ideas

    Fantastic Frank

    If a whole wall is beyond your needs or budget, and you just need space to work on your laptop, try hanging a small midcentury wall desk that doubles as a bookshelf, like this living room from Fantastic Frank.

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  • 07 of 21

    Back It Up

    living room desk

    Design by Emily Henderson and Priscilla Frost / Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

    The desk in this homey basement family room/home office designed by Emily Henderson and Priscilla Frost is positioned against the back of a large sectional sofa, allowing it disappear from sight once the work day is over and you're camped out on the couch. The dark wood tones blends in with the wood paneled walls, and matching the desk chair upholstery to the dark blue velvet on the sectional makes it feel cohesive.

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  • 08 of 21

    Blend It In

    living room office

    Design by Studio London Co. / Photo by Cody Guilfoyle

    In this NYC living room from Studio London Co., a glossy white desk with clean lines is slotted into the space between the sofa and the window so that it virtually disappears when not in use. Gold-toned frames on a trio of photographs, the desk lamp, the overhead light fixture, and the office chair add some glam that pulls the small city living room together.

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  • 09 of 21

    Add a Wall Accent

    living room office

    Louis Duncan-He Designs / Photo by Eymeric Wilding

    This living room workstation from Louis Duncan-He Designs has a desk and bookshelf that also houses a collection of vinyl and a turn-table that can be used during office hours or after, depending on your mood. A painted accent wall helps define the space and give pride of place to the desk.

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  • 10 of 21

    Face the Room

    living room office

    Design by Leanne Ford Interiors / Photo by Amy Neunsinger

    While many people reflexively push their desks up against a window, views of the outside world can be distracting, and direct sunlight can produce an unwanted glare. Instead of pushing it up against the window, Leanne Ford Interiors placed this large farmhouse style living room desk in front of it, facing inward toward the room. This makes it easy to give your eyes a break and to see people coming so you don't get startled by a tap on the shoulder.

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  • 11 of 21

    Add Contrast

    living room office

    Design by Caroline Andreoni Interior Design / Photo by Sophie Lloyd

    This moody Parisian living room from Caroline Andréoni Interior Design has black matte walls and ceiling and a midcentury modern desk placed against one wall that adds warmth and contrast. A midcentury wall sconce and vintage black-and-white photo add stylish details that stand up to the rest of the room's decor.

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  • 12 of 21

    Frame It Out

    living room office

    Design by Leanne Ford Interiors / Photo by Erin Kelly

    This living room office from Leanne Ford Interiors is framed by a case opening and visible to the adjoining seating area. The office areas has a large vintage desk with a pendant light hanging over it that helps structure the room, along with wrap-around built-in bookshelves on the walls and above the windows. A vase of tall branches makes it look decorative when not in use.

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  • 13 of 21

    Use Warm Tones

    living room desk ideas

    Design and Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp for Emily Henderson Design

    A vintage-style wooden secretary desk perched in the corner of this living room from Emily Henderson Design blends with the warm wood and leather tones in the room. Styled with a table lamp, a framed print, and knicknacks, it is as decorated as the rest of the room whether it's in use or not.

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  • 14 of 21

    Choose a Round Table

    living room office

    Design by Leanne Ford Interiors / Photo by Tessa Neustadt

    If your living room has a home library then swap your desk for a floating round table and chairs instead, like this design from Leanne Ford Interiors.

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  • 15 of 21

    Lean It Against the Wall

    living room office

    Design by Cathie Hong Interiors / Photo by Christy Q. Photo

    A tall wall-mounted desk is a a good choice for a small space or for fitting a dedicated work station into the corner of the living room. This home workstation from Cathie Hong Interiors is styled with books, photos, and objects, and finished off with an upholstered salmon pink desk chair to help it blend in with the rest of the room decor without looking too office-y.

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  • 16 of 21

    Choose an Antique

    living room office

    Design by Neva Interior Design / Photo by Agathe Tissier

    An antique secretary desk perched in the corner next to the fireplace of this spacious Paris living room from Neva Interior Design adds character to the mix of old and new decor, and is ready to be deployed when needed.

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  • 17 of 21

    Camp Out in the Alcove

    living room office

    Design by Jessica Lagrange Interiors / Photo by Kelly Allison

    A living room alcove is a natural place your desk. In this home office by Jessica Lagrange Interiors, a wall of bookshelves creates the requisite Zoom background, while a desk pushed peninsula-style against one wall allows for easy access and exit. And once the clock strikes 5:00, a vintage-style bar cart is parked just around the corner for an after work drink.

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  • 18 of 21

    Hide It In Plain Sight

    living room office

    Fantastic Frank

    A living room desk is hiding in plain sight in this top-floor apartment from Fantastic Frank.

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  • 19 of 21

    Hang Some Art

    living room office

    Design by Breeze Giannasio Interiors

    The focal point of this living room home office wall from interior designer Breeze Giannasio isn't the desk, but the large painting hung above it. Dark gray walls and a symmetrical desk and open shelving set-up helps the rest of the workstation blend in.

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  • 20 of 21

    Zoom In

    living room office

    Fantastic Frank

    Tucked in front of the window beneath the eaves, this living room desk from Fantastic Frank has a roll-top to hide clutter and an open surface for working.

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  • 21 of 21

    Make It Disappear

    living room office

    Home Made By Carmona

    If your living room includes a closet, consider converting it into a home workstation. Ursula Carmona for Home Made By Carmona turned a living room closet into a functional home office with a built-in desk, lighting, and storage that looks sharp when open but disappears from view once the workday is over and it's time to close up shop.