Darren Palmer’s guide to creating the ultimate home office

Darren Palmer’s guide to creating the ultimate home office

Working from home calls for a stimulating space that helps you get the job done, writes the celeb interior designer. Approach this area on a case-by-case basis.

Darren Palmer home office
A built-in desk can be customised to suit your needs. Photo: Armelle Habib

Your workplace greatly influences the quality and quantity of what you deliver. Some lucky people never need to imagine life stuck in a dreary grey cubicle, which is why people who work from home should gift themselves the most creative environment possible. Here are some planning and decorating considerations:


The space you have to work with might well be of shoebox proportions or borrowed from another room. The good news? Small spaces are brilliant for creating big impact and paint is a fabulous tool.

A dramatic colour change will quickly demarcate your workspace. Look to calming blues and greens to help lower anxiety and balance a hectic schedule. On the other hand, if you want to be stimulated to work faster, yellows and oranges will have the desired effect. However, those colours can enhance frustration and may increase your appetite (hide the biscuit tin!). Red promotes brainwaves but might over-stimulate you, so use this colour in measured amounts. Charcoals and deep colours, such as navy, are a perfect backdrop in a small room. As with any mid-to-dark colour, success depends on the contrasting elements used elsewhere in the scheme.

Paint can also be used to change the proportions of a room. Try lifting the focus by highlighting the area above a dado line or picture rail with a different colour, or create movement on a wall with geometric shapes in a few colours, stripes or other paint effects.

Texture and pattern

Wall coverings can achieve the same dramatic effect as paint and there are myriad designs to choose from. A pinstripe wallpaper could work in a gentleman’s library; a botanical may appeal if you’re looking for a colonial or even retro vibe. Travel images will inspire if you’re burning the midnight oil.

A magnetic whiteboard wall could be a fantastic way to take and keep notes, mind-map or contain reference images as well as adding visual interest to the room.


A room with a view gives your eyes a chance to refocus away from the screen, and invites your mind to wander as you ponder your next big opportunity!

Orient your work space to take in the vista from a window rather than staring at a wall. Instead of focusing all of your energy toward a screen in a corner of the room, place your desk under a window, next to a doorway or in the centre of the room looking outward.

An outlook and fireplace create an inviting environment for a home office in this [Melbourne terrace](|target="_blank"). Photo: Derek Swalwell
An outlook and fireplace create an inviting environment for a home office in this Melbourne terrace. Photo: Derek Swalwell


The right pieces can really make a room, and they need to inspire you in some way. One might be a custom desk you’ve made to perfectly suit, another could be an amazing piece you found on your travels. Whatever they are, remember that the chair you choose could be where you spend up to 10 hours a day (as well as some nights and weekends), so make sure it’s a good one.

Your desk should also be an investment, not only in terms of having a good space to spread out but as a visual anchor for the room that makes a statement about your intentions. Remember that a trestle table with a kitchen chair sends your subconscious a very different message to a beautiful work desk and chair – not to mention the message you send to any visitors.

The way you stack and display your [books](|target="_blank") is an opportunity to create some interest in your room. Photo: John Paul Urizar
The way you stack and display your books is an opportunity to create some interest in your room. Photo: John Paul Urizar


Consider everything you do on a daily or weekly basis, then list all the things you need to complete those tasks.

Things you use continually, keep within reach. Items you use occasionally might sit below desk level or in a cupboard nearby. Items you need to keep but barely use can be archived.

Having a space for everything and keeping it that way will make your home/work life a lot easier.

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