How Much Space to Leave Between the Desk and the Wall?

Desk Placed Facing the Wall
Desk Placed Facing the Wall (Source: stocksnap.io)

Are you arranging a work desk against the wall, but you are clueless about how much gap to leave in-between or whether you should leave any space?

Let us help you out with the problem.

The desk and wall clearance should be at least 3 feet to accommodate space to move around, fit furniture (cabinet and storage), or arrange any equipment at the back. 

However, leaving a significant gap between the desk and wall may not be possible in a small home office layout. Therefore, consider your home office size, arrangement of furniture, and sitting posture before deciding.

Read on to find out how to arrange the correct amount of space in-between the desk and wall.

Benefits of Leaving Space Between the Desk and Wall

The space between the desk and the wall can be crucial when making optimum use of space.

According to the Architectural Digest,

The minimum distance between the desk and the back wall must be between 33 to 36 inches (2.5-3 feet) so that one can freely move around.

However, leaving a big gap between the desk and wall can be costly for a small office measuring 10-ft x 10-ft or 10-ft x 15-ft.

100 sq ft room space
100 square feet (10×10-feet) space (Source: Quora)

Therefore, you should start with deciding whether leaving the space in between the desk and the nearest wall will benefit you in any way.

Here are some tell-tale benefits of leaving a clearance between the desk and the wall.

1. Increased Mobility

By mobility, we meant the space to move around the work desk. Leaving a clearance space between the desk and wall will let you access each corner.

It may be beneficial if your work desk has shelves on the sides and back, so you can access each frame.

Empty space around the desk
Empty space around the desk (Source: PlanYourRoom)

Introducing space between the desk and the wall will also add depth to your desk, making it look more spacious. Especially by adding large plants between the desk and the wall, you can spice up the space between the desk and the wall.

Read more about arranging furniture in a small home office.

2. Increased Storage Space

The space between the work desk and the wall is beneficial, especially for arranging storage units. Placing file cabinets, bookshelf, cupboard, and storage shelves behind the desk keeps them on the hand’s reach.

Storage Shelves beside the work desk
Storage Shelves just beside the work desk (Source: Pixabay)

You can reach the essential files, folders, and office items within a few feet. However, ensure that the desk and the wall space are spacious enough to fit a storage unit.

Moreover, ensure a minimum clearance of 5-feet between the desk and storage unit to accommodate a chair.

3. Space to Fit Irregular Items

Use the space between the desk and the wall to store rare items you are less likely to use daily. Moreover, you can use this space to hide items you do not want to display openly.

Equipment, cardboard boxes, sparingly used office tools, and clutter items would easily fit behind the desk hidden from plain sight.

Not only would it save space to store essential items, but it will also clear office clutter.

4. Beat Claustrophobia

Sitting facing the wall can often make one feel confined to a small space or claustrophobic.

Placing your desk away from the wall might help you feel more open and encourage cooperation and communication.

claustrophobia
Claustrophobia is an intense fear of confined or enclosed spaces (Source: WebMD)

It is especially true among people who enjoy working in an open space looking at their colleagues. You can use the space between the desk and the wall to arrange a chair to work facing against the wall.

How Much Space to Leave between the Work Desk and the Wall?

When arranging your work desk against the wall, look into maximizing the optimum space.

As the Interior designer Dee Frazier points out,

The first step in determining how to lay out a home office is to better understand how your needs can be met in the available square footage.

It may be crucial for a home office because most remote offices tend to be smaller. Here are a few factors to help you determine how much space to leave between the desk and the wall.

1. Sitting Close to the Window

Many prefer placing their desk against the wall with a window to let the natural light illuminate the work desk.

It may be a great idea to illuminate your workplace while keeping the view more interesting naturally, but it poses problems of its own.

Office desk by the Window
Office desk by the Window (Source: Pixabay)

Sitting In front/Perpendicular to the window

Consider leaving at least 3 feet between the desk and the wall to keep direct sunlight at bay. Although the direct sunlight helps keep the workspace brighter, it may create vision blur and warm up the devices.

Otherwise, consider adding drapes or curtains to help offset bright sunlight during the day if you cannot place your desk too far from the window.

Want to know, Should your home office desk face the window?

Sitting Against the Window

We recommend not sitting facing against the window as it will quickly produce screen glare that may affect your eyesight. The bright light will easily create screen glare that will significantly increase as the hour’s pass.

Leave at least 6 feet between the desk and the wall to prevent the risks of screen glare and eyestrain.

Sitting facing against the window
Sitting facing against the window (Source: PlanYourRoom)

However, it may pose a problem for video conferencing. The light shining in the background will create a halo effect with bright background and dark foreground.

Pro Tip: Consider adding a curtain or drape to offset natural sunlight’s effect or move your desk facing front to the window.

2. Behind the Door

Placing a desk behind the door is one way to arrange a workspace, but beware of the space between the desk and the door.

Opening or closing the door should not accidentally hit your work desk or prevent mobility when coming in or going out.

  • Move your desk against the wall at the opposite end of the door to prevent this problem entirely.
  • When sitting facing the wall, decide whether you need a cleared space between the desk and the wall.
  • When sitting facing against the wall, leave at least 4-6 feet to accommodate the chair and enable movement.

3. Facing the wall

This one is tricky because sitting facing the wall will depend on what side you are sitting on.

  • If you are facing the wall with a window, ensure to leave a gap to offset the problems of bright natural lighting.
  • When sitting facing a wall behind the door, ensure to arrange your desk away from the entrance to avoid restricting the movement.
Sit facing the wall
Sit facing the wall (Source: Pixabay.com)

However, if you face a wall without a window or door, determine whether it will benefit from leaving a gap. If you are sitting facing against the wall, you should keep at least 3-4 feet between the wall and the desk to fit a chair.

A typical office chair measures 24-26″ in depth. Leaving an ample 3-4 feet of space will easily accommodate a chair and allow movement.

Similarly, if you want to fit a bookcase, drawer, or cabinet measuring 10-12″ in-depth behind the chair, you would need 2-3 feet of additional space.

Sit facing against the wall
Sit facing against the wall (Source: Pixabay)

This type of setting would easily take up 6-7 feet of space that will push your desk towards or further from the center. It could be concerning when you have a small room like a 10-ft x 10-ft office room.

Instead, push your desk to the wall and sit facing it to free the center space. Arrange the bookcase, drawer, or cabinet to the opposite wall.

Learn more whether you should place your work desk at the center of the room.

How Far Should a Desk Be from a Wall in a Non-office Setting?

Not everyone can afford to turn a whole room into a home office.

Most remote workers choose to work from their bedroom or any awkward they could find, like under the staircase or in the corridor.

Hence, the room’s layout will help decide whether to leave space between the desk and the wall.

1. In the Bedroom

In a recent survey, nearly 31% of remote workers responded that they work from their bedrooms.

A bedroom makes one of the most promising home offices but beware of leaving a space between the desk and the wall when working from the bedroom.

An already cluttered bedroom is less likely to accommodate spare space.

To comfortably set up a desk in the bedroom, consider keeping it at least 2-3 feet away from the bed and doorway.

This will allow for easy movement around the desk.

Quick Tip: Leave 3-6 inches between the desk and the wall to hide equipment and store irregular items.

2. Under the Staircase

Although unusual, the space under the staircase makes a perfect awkward home office corner.

Setting up the office under the staircase will solve the problem of space.

Leaving a space between the desk and the wall would depend on how you wish to arrange your desk.

Facing the Wall

When arranging a desk parallel to the wall, you can leave a few inches of gap between the desk and the wall. However, it would be wise to use the empty wall space to store items instead of behind the desk in such a setting.

Perpendicular to the Wall

Arranging a desk perpendicular to the wall will take a lot of floor space. It may prevent you from leaving any space between the desk and the wall.

Against the Wall

If you decide to sit facing against the wall, you should leave at least 3-4 feet in between to accommodate a chair. However, this type of sitting is not recommended for awkward home office corners.

Home office under the stairs
Sitting facing the wall is best for the office under the staircase (Source: Unsplash)

Learn more about setting up a home office in an awkward corners.

3. In the Living Room

Setting up a home office in a living room could be a great idea because it offers ample space to arrange a work desk. However, beware of the layout and furniture.

Ensure to leave at least 3 feet of distance around the work desk for non-obstructive movement.

Living room can be a great option for home office
The living room can be a great option for a home office (Source: Unsplash)

A living room would have many pieces of furniture that may prevent adding a separate work desk. Even if you manage to add one, it may restrict the movement.

Leaving the space between the desk and the adjoining wall would depend on the room layout and space to spare.

How Much Space Should be Between Chair and Desk?

Leaving a space between the desk and the wall may be a good idea, but not at the cost of seating. For a comfortable experience, you should maintain at least 3 feet of space behind the desk.

It would fit a modest-sized office chair measuring 23-24 inches without restricting movement.

Moreover, it would allow enough legroom and optimal distance between the eyes and the screen. Arranging ample space for a chair will allow you to sit, get up without difficulty, and move around freely.

According to fire regulations in the US, offices should always maintain a minimum space of 90 cm (35 inches) between the desk and the wall to allow easy escape from the chair in case of emergency.

However, you can choose to disregard it for home office setups but not at the cost of your comfort.

Read our article If the Home Office Chair is Better Without Wheels?

Final Verdict

Leaving the space behind a desk depends entirely on your need, available spare room, and home office layout. Leaving a few inches gap can be beneficial to retrieve items that fall off the desk.

Otherwise, leave at least a few feet between the workstation and the wall to allow for mobility around the desk.

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