5 Mini Decorating Moves for a Boring Home Office

See how a designer transformed Broadway and TV star Sutton Foster’s home office in just five easy steps.

Photos by Matt Harrington Photo

A home office can easily become a neglected space. Since it’s not usually a place to entertain guests or hang out, people tend to keep the home office bare and focus their decorating efforts on other spaces, like the living room, dining room, or family room—which was the case with the home office in actress Sutton Foster’s New York City apartment.



So Foster enlisted the help of interior designer Mike Harrison and HomeGoods to give the office more personality and style. “Functionality doesn’t mean lack of style,” Harrison says. “One of the great advantages of this space was that there was so much natural light with a stunning view, so the interest is already built into one entire wall. Another great plus was that the three pieces of existing furniture were beautiful, quality pieces so my job was just to marry the function with the style of the space and execute a clear vision for the room.”

Foster, who wanted the space to be neutral but not boring, says Harrison’s updates make the new office “come to life.” And it was all done with some inexpensive styling tricks you can use to give your own space a makeover. Here, Harrison’s tips:

1. Bring in Color.
Your favorite, eye-catching colors can make a space feel unique and more relaxed. “For this room in particular, it was important to Sutton that it be a place of inspiration for her husband, who is a professional writer,” Harrison says. “She wanted a space full of interest with a sophisticated whimsy. I wanted to achieve this through a layered neutral palette, with an occasional pop of color.”

2. Add Accessories.
“When personalizing an office space on a budget, try to remember that a little goes a long way,” he says. “One new desk lamp or one new rug can really transform a room. Also, it’s important to remember that even if a room needs to function as an office, it is still an extension of your home. It doesn’t need to be stale and corporate, so inject personal touches like framed pictures, special objects, and artwork.” In Foster’s office, Harrison added a geometric rug, abstract art, patterned pillows, plants, and unexpected lighting.

3. Play With Scale.
Often, your home office might be a small nook or a tiny room, so it’s important to maximize every inch of space. “When dealing with smaller spaces remember that scale is important,” Harrison says. “I used a great mirrored end table to serve as a coffee table instead. I also found a clean, white leather desk chair that brightened up the space to juxtapose the dark wood in the furniture.”

4. Organize With Style.
Keep the clutter contained. “Since the office is a highly functional room, organization is key,” he says. “Let the organizational supplies that you use exhibit the room’s style.” And, luckily, you can easily find inexpensive office supplies that pack a lot of color and flair—think metallic notebooks and pens, acrylic boxes and pencil cups, and colorful tape dispensers and staplers.

5. “Fake” an Office.
Don’t have a designated office? Don’t worry: You can still create a working space wherever you have a little bit of extra space. “Create room for a small desk in your living area, bedroom, or even dining area,” Harrison says. “You can add floating shelves above it to house office supplies and display decorative objects.” Ta-da, an office nook.