When I was growing up, my family had a designated office space. Not an office–guest room combo or a little desk nook but an actual office, complete with an oversize desk and a rolling leather chair. Today, with shrinking square footage and the rise of portable electronics, a big workspace seems far less practical for the average homeowner.Enter office nooks and mini desks. They can fit just about anywhere — kitchens, family rooms, even bedrooms — and their popularity is only growing as clunky desks dwindle in importance for many. “The traditional home office idea comes more out of habit than need,” says Mark Williams, principal at Mark Williams Design Associates. “Some people think they need an office — they’ve always had one — but then they struggle to find a way to use it,” he says. “Generally, people like communal spaces. They can pay bills, surf the Internet or even work from home and stay in the vicinity of where everyone else is gathering.”
Convenience is key when it comes to the mini desk, but for many families, Internet safety is the primary consideration. “Most parents want the computer to be in a communal space, so they can watch the kids and know what they are doing online,” says New Jersey designer Cory Connor.Sure, they’re great for families, and they make handy drop stations, but will mini desks ever truly replace traditional office spaces? Not for those who work from home, says interior designer Sarah Barnard. Floating desks are ideal for short bouts of work, but sitting there for a full eight- or 10-hour day is bound to cause some headaches.For those ready to downsize their desk space, here are some ideas.
This corner nook might just be a counter, but its prime kitchen location makes it great for looking up recipes or answering emails while preparing dinner.
High-traffic drop spots like entryways and mudrooms are also popular locations for a mini office space. This cabinet and counter combo acts as laptop storage, charging station and file cabinet, making it easy for someone to unload at the end of the day.
This entertainment center is full of secrets — a pullout chair saves space and blends into the surrounding cabinetry, while a full-size file cabinet resides under the TV.“The client needed a little hub or command center for herself and her three kids, but she didn’t need a full desk, since so much is paperless these days,” says Connor.
During the renovation of this 1920s bungalow, Williams relocated the staircase and positioned this little desk nook in its place. Perfectly located between the kitchen and the dining room, it’s a great place for knocking out a to-do list yet still staying in on the action.
A laptop fits nicely here, but this desk mainly serves another purpose: Barnard added it as a craft station so the mom can keep an eye on her little girl as she cooks. A nearby walk-in pantry houses kids’ coloring books and supplies.
When space is an issue, pullout ledges offer a workspace without taking up valuable square footage. This handy built-in is just right for a child’s bedroom, and the ledge easily slides back in when it’s time to play.
In this fun family room, the armoire holds a workspace, office supplies and colorful decor — and easily closes to hide everything.
Awkward spots can work well for little office spaces. The floating desk in this bedroom looks great and can act as a writing surface when inspiration strikes.