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How (and Why) to Make Your Home Office Disappear When Work’s Over

A home office set up in a closet under the stairs.
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

If you don’t have the luxury of a separate room you can use as your home office, you can’t just close a door and walk away at the end of the workday. However, you can (and should) replicate that feeling, no matter where your home office is located.

Working from home means no commute and more flexibility to work how you want. However, it can also blur the boundaries between work and home in unhealthy ways. If you can hide your home office when work’s over, it helps you keep those boundaries clear and healthy.

Let’s look at why this is important, and how you can make it happen.

The Benefits of Hiding Your Home Office

When you leave the office and head home, or even close the door on an office in your home, you’re creating a physical boundary between “work” and “home.” This, in turn, signals your brain that work’s over and you can fully relax.

However, if your home office is the dining room table or a corner in the living room, it’s always present. You don’t leave a building or shut an office door, so you never give yourself the signal that work is done for the day.

This can make it harder to prevent work from creeping into your personal life. Sure, most of us have had to send the odd midnight email or put in an overly long workday. But if you’re always checking work messages during dinner or returning to your desk to do “just one more thing,” you’re on the path to burnout.

Ideally, working from home should be a perk, not a chore, and a home office you can hide or put away can help you keep it that way. Your office is a visual reminder of work, so when it’s out of sight, it’s easier to keep it out of mind and fully enjoy your personal time.

5 Ways to Conceal a Home Office

Now, let’s delve into a few ways you can create a separation between your work and personal time if you don’t have a separate room for it.

Create a Visual Boundary

A small office nook next to a folding screen.

If you use a section of an existing room as your office, you just need a way to block that section from view when you’re not at work. As a bonus, a visual barrier can also give you more privacy while you’re working.

A room divider is an easy option because you can move it around if you’re still deciding where your home office should be. If you’ve settled on a spot, though, a room divider curtain is a more semi-permanent option.

Another method is to rearrange the furniture so it creates a boundary. Any large piece, like a sofa, bookshelf, or even a tall plant, can create a “wall” to hide your office area from view.

Convert a Closet or Nook

If you have stairs, is there a nook or closet underneath them? If so, this space can be ideal for a hidden home office. Just add your desk and chair and, if there’s no door, hang some curtains. When work is done, and the door is shut or the curtains are closed, you won’t even think about that space.

You can do this with any random nook or unused closet in your home. Since these spaces are out of the way already, they’re easy to hide and ignore when you’re not working. In a small closet, you might have to leave the door open to accommodate a chair while you work. However, you can move it when you’re not working so you can close the door.

Use a Folding or Hideaway Desk

If your home is small, you might not want to sacrifice part of a room to use as an office. In that case, a folding desk is the perfect solution. Then, you can set up your home office only when you need it. Setting up your desk each day will create a clear boundary between home and work time.

A hideaway desk, like a murphy or rolltop, is another option. This type of desk will have a permanent location, but you can easily hide all work-related stuff by just closing it up whenever you’re not using it.

Pack a Work Bag

A person sliding a laptop into a bag.
Kanut Photo/Shutterstock

You can also hide your home office by simply packing away all your papers, electronics, and work supplies at the end of each day.

Get yourself a nice, big tote bag with a bunch of compartments so you can keep everything organized. Put everything you use while working from home in there, like your laptop, planner, and small office supplies.

Take everything out at the start of your workday and arrange it on your desk. At the end of the day, just pack it all back up in your bag and stash it out of sight. This will help prevent you from being tempted to work during your off-hours.

This is a great way to hide work from yourself, especially if you work in a multipurpose space, like the kitchen. It even allows you to use a regular desk for other purposes when you’re not working.

Packing up every day also ensures your work supplies will stay organized. Another added bonus is a bag makes it easy to take your work outside on nice days because everything you need is already packed and ready to go.

Use a Wheeled Cart or Tote Box

A wheeled cart with shelves or drawers is yet another way to make your home office portable and easy to put away. When your workday’s over, just put your supplies on the cart and wheel it somewhere out of sight, like a closet.

If you don’t use enough stuff to fill multiple shelves, a tote box is another option. If your supplies are really minimal, just stash them in a drawer at the end of each day.

If your workspace is always visible, you might constantly be tempted to take care of one last little thing. Sometimes, this can lead to hours of extra work and make it impossible to enjoy your downtime.

Making your home office invisible at the end of the workday will help you avoid this trap. Without your office staring you in the face, you’ll get the mental break we all need to feel refreshed and focused when it’s time to start working again.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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