Home Studio Essentials

Hi All,

I am about to start a new gig (more to come on that in the future) and I will be split between working in the office and at home. I have never really been a working from home kind of person so I need to set up a home studio. I have planned to take over my basement and wanted to reach out to all of you out there that have home studios to see what you would say are the “must haves” when it comes to being productive, comfortable, and inspired.

I will be doing service/UX design work. My plans are to of course have a large desk/workspace, plenty of gator board for post-its and area to pin things up. And have installed new lighting to make the space nice and bright.

Any info you can shoot my way would be super helpful and much appreciated. Pictures would also be awesome.



A coffee maker!

Herman Miller Cosm chair in red/red.
If I had more flexibility to build-out a space I’d have a couple more tables, and outlets really accessible, both regular 110 plus USB-direct plugs. My home desk is always a mess of wires - various charging cables, different video inputs, peripheral HDs, etc. and I want a better solution for plugging sh*t in than having to crawl under the desk and fight the dust bunnies. Maybe even get a cool Humanscale monitor arm(s) for more desk space and feel super high tech.
A good trash/recycle bin.
A bus bin for the dirty food dishes/cups/forks so they don’t sit on your desk.

A big whiteboard in front of your desk in which you keep track of running projects.
Planning is key when working from a home studio.
Then, a standing desk.
I have built my 3D printers into cabinets with acoustic panels, the difference is tremendous.

Whatever makes you comfortable.

For me, a sofa, laptop and knowing anything I need is in a certain spot so I don’t need to look for it.

A strict work schedule, and a way to close yourself off from the rest of your house. I find working from home to be very distracting if I can’t do it at a certain schedule, and if I can’t eliminate the other distractions (house projects, family members, etc.)

Also, if you’re really going to take over your whole basement for actual work, keep tabs on exactly what you do down there. If you are hoping to expense some of the cost of having a home office talk to a tax accountant about how to go about it properly.

One of my good friends has been running a small design studio from home for about 15 years. One tip he taught me was that you still need a “commute”. For him it is a 10 minute bike ride to a coffee shop that is further away. When he comes back he is “at work”.

My other recommendation is a good HiFi! I’m biased here based on my last gig but one of the coolest things about working from home is you can crank the stereo and get lost in the work. :slight_smile:

I’d also recommend getting some big gator board sheets (usually come in 3’x6’ or 8’ I think) so you can pin stuff up and move it all around easily.

+1 on anything that helps you zone into being at work, rather than at home. I think the basement setup is a good idea because it segments your work life from your home life. I also really like the fake commute concept.

My essentials are a comfortable chair and a flexible workspace where I can organise and move things around to get laptops, paper etc out of the way when needed without it turning into a messy pile. I like headphones too as I find it easier to concentrate with them on.

Heck yeah. I had a request to turn off the very quiet music that was playing on Halloween; KEXP does a special Halloween mix full of fun gothy music but noooooo too loud for the engineers. I recall Philippe Starck saying he starts every morning with really good loud music.

Thanks everyone. I’ve been working on it all weekend and will be working all week.

I love the “commute” concept. I take the kids to school, so that is kind of my :commute"

The basement is a good place where I can have my own space and make it mine. It’s unfinished, so I’m turning it into a loft like space. Only draw back is not a lot of natural light so I working to make it a bright space. I have hung some great lights and I’m wiring it to have everything I need. Hifi is a great idea, I will include that in the plan.

I’m on the look out for a chair this week. Any suggestions?


It was a very large project, something I don’t want to do ever again, but I recently finished my basement. 1/3 is lounge, 1/3 is shop and the other 1/3 is unfinished utility (furnace, water softener, storage, etc.)

Basement17 by iabisdb, on Flickr

Basement05 by iabisdb, on Flickr

Basement79 by iabisdb, on Flickr

Basement81 by iabisdb, on Flickr

I’ve been working from my loft for 11 years. Just recently moved into a house and moved the “office” along with it. Here’s my thoughts-

  1. Storage. Never enough storage for papers, samples, supplies, books, etc. Built out a 3x set of Ikea Pax + had a custom set of Rakks Aluminum bookshelves in the loft and still had to sometimes find places to hide things or store samples off site at the old loft. Vintage Herman Miller vertical filing was the best (also had vertical files in the vintage HM desk)…New room in the house has less immediate storage, but there is overall more room in the house.

  2. Good furniture! One of the best things working from home/for yourself is you can pick all the furniture. No more having to make due with crappy task chairs, beige desks and standard looking stuff. In my loft, the workspace was part of the open concept 1400sf loft so everything aesthetically blended. You are more likely to want to “go” to work if work is a nice looking place!

  3. Change in perspective. Your work area should be only for work, not double duty for living room, etc. My last loft office was technically part of the same room, but out of the way and faced a different direction. Also had the pot lights wired on a separate circuit so I could turn off the work area lights when I was done for the day.

Enjoy! Commuting sucks, don’t know why you’d ever want to replicate that. Best part of working from home is there is no commute!


Nice to see pictures of your spaces fellas. They reminded me of something, you may or may not be doing a lot of video conference calls. Think about what you want that background to be and make sure you have plenty of light on your head. I also got a Shure desktop microphone the really improved voice and video conference quality (my studio has a concrete floor, bounded on one side by pretty large windows and the other with an open atrium space, so the echos were very bad for calls, the microphone helped a lot)

This is the one I got, not top of the line by any means, just enough to help out:

Good point! Had that issue in the old space with reflections on the black cabinets behind the desk. One thing I always do find annoying is the height of the front facing camera in the iMac. It’s so high the angle for Skype is really not flattering… I’ve used the apple earphones with inline mic on Skype to improve audio quality and they work like a charm. Mic may not be great compared to the desktop one, but good enough that I’ve even used it for video VO work.

Makes me also think of consideration for meeting space if you bring clients in. My old loft the dining table did double duty and was a vintage conference table anyhow… Good to have the option of something that isn’t too “home” like. I’ve been in meetings elsewhere at someone’s home office and kinda ruins the meeting if you have to clear of a pile of kids toys and such before a presentation…


Love the pictures of the spaces. So much great inspiration here.

The camera view for Skype calls is something I have been thinking a lot about. I plan to put quite a bit of art behind my desk, so that should provide a decent back drop. I will also have gator board and post-its up so I can alway pull those into the space.

  1. Good furniture! One of the best things working from home/for yourself is you can pick all the furniture. No more having to make due with crappy task chairs, beige desks and standard looking stuff. In my loft, the workspace was part of the open concept 1400sf loft so everything aesthetically blended. You are more likely to want to “go” to work if work is a nice looking place!

Totally agree! This will be a work in progress. I have some furniture that I plan to move in, but I don’t want to rob from the rest of the house. Any suggestions on go deals for vintage HM?


Nice offices!

Make sure you can lock the door so that this doesn’t happen

Kids love to press buttons!

I like to design based on use-cases. It would be interesting to design an office space based on different modes of action in how you use it, for example:

  1. A work stretch simply about creating output (doors closed, clean desk with CAD setup, coffee/tea + food available)
  2. A creative session (whiteboards, large sketch table, VR, inspiration books, model making)
  3. A communicative work session (doors open, videomeetings, lots of e-mail)
  4. Administrative work / research / writing (standing desk)

I find my work to switch between these modes and that I use the space entirely differently.