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A home office for a pre-teen or teenager

If your kid has recently started secondary school, one thing immediately becomes apparent: they have far too many subjects and therefore books, notepads and printouts. And with homework being progressively harder, it's great for kids to have a space to do their work in a focused and organised way.

So today's post is about designing a new home office for a pre-teen and changing a spare room, from rather unremarkable to inspiring (without overwhelming). After all, the aim is to help them focus and not think this is a new play area!

How to design and organise a home office

When designing a home office, you need to consider:

  • the furniture: will you need a large area for working on? If you are an artist you might need a deeper and longer desk for example. And as for your chair: simply put, if you are spending a lot of time on it you need it to be comfortable and adjustable.

  • the lighting: Consider task lights on your desk or on the wall in front of you, so that you can point towards your work or keyboard. Natural light is the best, so try seating close to a window but not directly in front of the window if the room is south facing.

  • the storage: if you have insufficient storage, your room might end up feeling chaotic. Do not underestimate the value of smart storage solutions.

  • flexibility: Can you design the space to be future proof and to have other uses as well ?

5 great desks

A wooden surface is always the best but it will not come cheap. MDF based desks are cheaper and hardwearing but you do need to clean their surface often and marks made with pens and permanent ink markers are not easy to remove! Here are 5 desks that I really like.

5 great office chairs

Make sure your chair can be adjusted for height and posture. There is nothing worse than sitting on a chair that is not designed as an office chair and which can ultimately give you a bad back. Your feet should be flat on the floor in resting position. Here are 5 great chairs:

So let's have a look at the plans for our new home office, perfect for a pre-teen !


The room we are using, is the spare guest bedroom where I have my hacked IKEA PAX wardrobes. It is next to this boys bedroom in blue and red (which will also see a makeover soon!). The initial plan was to knock through the wall behind the wardrobes and connect the two rooms. This was ambitious and expensive. We opted for plan B.

Our inspiration

Every room you design usually has some problem areas that need addressing. It could be the wall colour, the lighting, the storage etc. This room needed the following:

  • Create a seating area for at least two people, so that when the kid needs help with homework, we can both seat together.

  • Use colour to help focus - we will be inspired by the blogging office next door for that.

  • Add storage for a reading nook and for organising school work by subject.

Having the above in mind, we looked up for projects that we liked on Pinterest and saved the ones that resonated the most with our aesthetic, in a secret mood board. our style could be summarised as follows:

  • Industrial vibes

  • One dark wall

  • Pops of mustard yellow

  • Wall-hung Storage

  • A long working surface

Inspiration board

Design Plans

As this office is meant for a pre-teen and needs to be a little future proof (for 6-7 years that is!) we wanted to make it feel sufficiently 'cool'. We had a tiny budget so had to re-use existing furniture from other rooms including:

  • 2x MICKE desks by IKEA

  • 1x Billy bookcase by IKEA

  • a bean bag in dark grey

For our design we also included:

The HÅG CAPISCO PULS 8010 is a plastic chair with an integrated seat cushion for improved comfort. The saddle seat can be adjusted between low and high working positions, all the way up to a standing position, enabling you to be more dynamic in your movements while still sitting in a balanced position.

Theme wall colour

After a very happy four years with my office painted in Farrow & Ball's Railings, I knew that the wall behind the desk needed to be painted in a delicious dark colour. A dark background helps focus and so looking at a number of paint colours I decided to have some COBALT NIGHT mixed in soft sheen at my local Homebase.

COBALT NIGHT is also included in the 2021 Dulux colour palettes and specifically the Earth Palette. To make the upstairs floor have good flow between rooms, we will also be using other colours from this palette in the kids bedroom and my office.

IKEA EKET shelves

These large cuboid shelves come in 5 colours (black, white, oak, red and yellow) and in a number of sizes and in two depths. I loved them when I first saw them online, as they are so versatile and a great size. They are also extremely easy to put up and align.

Above: first coat of paint going up. Below: the third coat of paint sealed the deal.

Below: Trying the EKET shelves on the wall.

NEXT... THE REVEAL - A home office for a pre-teen or teenager.

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