6 Home Office Trends On Their Way Out

A modern home office

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After a wave of working-from-home and changes to everyday lifestyles, habits, and routines, more and more people are finding that the home office trends they once craved and strived to create in their own spaces are actually less than ideal.

From the knick knacks in every nook-and-cranny to the desks that doubled as changing tables, home offices are undeniably taking a shift to more than just temporary spaces for survival.

While some office spaces are becoming even more practical, others are moving away from the ‘all work no play’ and doubling as safe havens where individuals actually enjoy spending time. From the simple to the outrageous, here are the home office trends that are on their way out this year.

Corner & Closet Desks

During a time where work and home were intimately intertwined, functionality was of utmost importance. As such, desks and offices were squeezed into any space they would fit. However, as work from home is here to stay, these offices are shifting to follow suit.  

“A long-time trend has been for home offices to be incorporated into a corner of a kitchen or great room,” says Takashi Yanai, designer and Partner at Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects. “We’ve now learned that we need acoustic privacy and also a connection to the outdoors! If anything, the home office should have a sense of visual and spatial flow with nature.”  

Corner offices don’t make sense anymore, and neither do the ‘cloffice’ trends.  

“The ‘cloffice’ is the closet that is converted into a small office—the inside is refitted into a desk and shelves and stays closed outside of the workday,” says Leana Salamah, VP of the International Housewares Association (IHA). “It was a great stop-gap for people who found themselves working from home with limited space available to them, but so many of those people are upgraded their homes to accommodate dedicated home office space that we will see less of these moving forward." 

Visual Overload

“One of the biggest changes in home office design is the need for more space and less distractions,” says Nora Mitchell, editor-in-chief of Household Advice. “This means people are opting to get rid of their office decor such fake plants, clocks, and little knickknacks. These have actually proven to be very distracting and reduce the productivity of employees working from home.”  

Sure, the cutesy knickknacks look nice for a little while, but after a while they’re either in the way, collecting dust, or taking away space when you actually need it. And for this reason, people are also opting to move away from open shelving.

“We all know open shelving doesn't work and ends up looking cluttered and overall like an ‘organized mess,’” says Karen Gutierrez at Mackenzie Collier Interiors (MCI). “Cabinets or sideboards are much more functional, clean, and contain everything in one place without being too overwhelming or taking over your space.”  

Basic Backgrounds

Having a backdrop for your desk and workspace isn’t just for the Instagram videos. In fact, as working from home continues to be the norm, people are looking for backdrops that are either less distracting or more visually appealing, depending on the person’s personality or goals.

“People are looking to create more compelling backgrounds with art and interior design as opposed to creating a wall of certificates, awards, and diplomas,” says Alessandra Wood, VP of Style at Modsy. “While there’s certainly a place for these documents, we’re seeing a trend towards designing them into art walls to add a splash of color and personality to the space.”

However, some designers say the opposite. Rather than the background wall space being the focus, in 2022 the backdrop will become less of a focal point.

“Home offices are decorated to be seen by the video camera,” says Salamah. “As we move forward and more people enter a hybrid work schedule, fewer video calls will mean that more of the decor and personality of the office will surround the user rather than being displayed for an audience as background.”

Oversized Desks

While large, ornate desks used to be a mark of power or authority, people have moved away from that—perhaps more for convenience or for the sake of functionality. Whatever the reason, the big and bulky has been swapped for something more simplified or transitional. 

“There was a time when everyone wanted a large and ornate wood desk. It was a symbol of power and success to have your leather chair positioned just so behind the large, heavy desk,” says Andra DelMonico, Lead Interior Designer for Trendey.

“While these desks are stunning in the right setting, they simply don’t work for many modern home architecture or design trends. Homeowners are instead turning to desks that make the most sense for their home, personal style, and work needs,” she says.

As a result, companies are seeing trends shift to floating shelves, shelves that run the length of a room, innovative storage solutions, or stand-up desks.

“Combining fitness and effectiveness is perhaps the main allure of the standing desk,” shares Gela Pinero, a specialist at FlexiSpot. Standing desks offer not just convenience but mobility. While you can’t move around the room, per se, you can stretch, sit, stand, and convert your office desk based on your needs—perks that are not obtainable with the traditional desk.

Bulky Cabinets

Along the same vein as the desks, bulky cabinets are also on the way out this year. Not only are they cumbersome, but they don’t really serve a purpose in our modern-day world.

“These ginormous, unaesthetic file cabinets are no longer necessary because nowadays, we have all our files on the web,” says Anton Giuroiu, architect, CEO and Founder of Homesthetics. “[There is] no need for physical storage that eats lots of space and makes home offices less homey.”

Another trend that he shares is on the way out is traditional, non-ergonomic furniture. “With people placing a premium on their health, ergonomic chairs are replacing traditional office chairs,” he says.

Dark Lighting & Neutral Colors

While a dark, comforting, and neutral office was praised originally, newer home office trends encourage light and brightness to create more positive feelings around work.

“Nothing makes a space look old and dated faster than dark or dingy lighting,” says DelMonico. “It’s time to say goodbye to the depressing lighting and replace it with something bright and fresh.”

She suggests brightening alternatives, like opting for lightweight curtains instead of heavy fabric
ones, replacing fixtures or creating a layout that lends itself to more openness and natural light.

Neutral tones—walls, furniture, etc.—are also heading out of style. “The home office has become a place where people spend a lot of time, so decorating it with personality is in,” says Maria Juvakka, Founder of Chic Pursuit. “Expect to see these neutral palettes replaced with bright pops of color like an accent wall or vibrant curtains.”