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37 Masculine Home Office Ideas to Strengthen Your Study Game

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Karlton began covering men's style and grooming topics for The Adult Man since 2020 as a writer. He's also written for other popular men's publications such as The Modest Man and Effortless Gent. Karlton is an LA-born, New York-based lover of culture and optimism. Perpetual watch-wearer. Always holding a martini or a football, Karlton's favorite subjects in school were recess, PE and prom. Read full bio.

Published: Mar 11, 2024
19 min read
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One of the work benefits I received during the work-from-home revolution of 2020 (yes, I rebranded it), was my company’s willingness to help me upgrade my home office.

I learned a lot. 

Sure, I had adjacent knowledge on interior decorating, having spent over a decade in art galleries and auction houses.

Still, there’s nothing like having all the time in the world to work with true experts to upgrade my study.

Today, I’m going to share some knowledge and tips on how to make your home office look like a smart, stylish, well-adjusted guy works there.

The Key Components of a Masculine Home Office

Mad Men style masculine home office minimalist with rug and two paintings on the wall
  • Cohesiveness. It helps to pick a theme. Perhaps you like a hunting lodge vibe or a vintage library look. Maybe you want it to look like a swanky Mad Men style office. From there, you’ll do your best to make sure all of the items align with this main characteristic.
  • Texture. From wood grains to Chesterfield furniture, textures bring a lot of personality to any space.
  • Grounding colors. Darker colors are more traditionally masculine. If that’s not your thing though, you might still consider deep accent tones, like maroon or forest green, to anchor the look of your office.
  • Thoughtful lighting. This sounds obvious, but make sure you see everything you need to see with perfect clarity at all times. I turned a deep indent in the wall by my desk into a library. If I didn’t add extra lighting in there, I’d have to keep a pocket torch at my desk to know what reference book I was pulling.
  • Proper equipment. You’re not doing homework on your dorm room bed anymore. Get yourself a desk that serves you, a chair that won’t cause back aches, and a proper screen to connect to your laptop.
  • Personal touches. I have a painting of my childhood dog in my office. You might like family photos, meaningful souvenirs, or a small spiritual or religious token. These homey touches make the office undeniably yours, while also potentially providing comfort on particularly stressful work days.

Masculine Home Office Inspiration

1. Exhibition and Track Lighting

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As an art world professional, I’m a big proponent of exhibition lighting. It’s such an easy and often affordable way to make your office look that much more put-together.

As I mentioned, I put them in dark spaces for practical purposes, but also because it looks cool. Place them over artwork, or if you have decorative coffee table books on some shelves, you can easily place sticky strip lighting above the books to give them a spotlight.

If you take meetings at your home office, there’s nothing like lighting up the decor behind you to make you look like a closer.

2. Go for an Accent Wall

An accent wall adds a real pop of personality to your office. You can go creative with textures, perhaps dimensional chevrons or dark velvety Victorian wallpaper if that’s your thing.

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Or, you can just paint one wall a different color. This is a good option for those who rent because it’s easy to just paint it back at the end of the lease.

3. A Win Indicator

At one of my past companies, my boss and mentor set up a bell on one of the walls of the sales office. Anytime someone closed a deal, we’d ring it.

I think this adds a sense of excitement and fun. It also gives you an opportunity to celebrate all the wins. For a home office, you can go for a desk bell, a mini gong, or you can even keep a cigar humidor in your drawer for really special milestones.

4. Leather-Bound Books as Decor

Leather bound books add a touch of old world class to your office the same way a leather strap does to a watch. You’d be surprised at how versatile they are too. 

You can compose them in an orderly fashion if your office has a classic British aesthetic, like M’s office in No Time to Die.

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You can go for a more haphazard, academic sophistication like Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady.

Or you can mix them up with some trophies and globes, and give your office the gentleman adventurer treatment.

Leather-bound books don’t have to be costly either. You can find them in vintage stores, used bookstores, and online.

Here’s a tip. Find an old set of leather-bound encyclopedias or any series of old worn-out leather books. As long as they look fine sitting on the shelf, you’re good to go. 

This way, you can immediately fill out your shelf on a budget, get the intended visual effect, and take your time replacing volumes or adding to the collection with more meaningful selections.

5. Modern Gentleman

By thoughtfully balancing out old world design cues and modern sensibilities, you can achieve a classic but not musty look. This also allows you to be more practical than if you went pure old school since you can implement modern creature comforts like ergonomic furniture.

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Try balancing out your vintage mahogany furniture with a polygonic mid-century modern chair that’s tufted. Relatedly, you can mix slick modern surfaces, like glass, with textures like tufted leather or heavy drapery.

You can always find sleek modern versions of old world staples, like globes, gold table lamps, and valet trays.

6. The Restoration Aesthetic

Reclaimed leather, heavy wood, and general rawness are all classically masculine approaches to interior decoration. My one tip with going this route is to balance it all out with some clean lines and simple surfaces.

If your desk is a muscular, thick, and organically-shaped piece of reclaimed wood, maybe go for an uncomplicated mid-century modern chair.  

7. Geometry Meets Character

If you’re into clean lines and polygons, that doesn’t always mean going for a sterile, blocky environment. 

Again, take some inspiration from mid-century modern interior decor, but update it with contemporary colors and textures. Think dark slates, marbles, woods, and glass. 

You can experiment with a little bit of eclecticness since all of the clean lines and sharp edges frame these elements in an organized way. 

8. Minimalize for Ease

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Sometimes less is more. All you need is a few shelves, a handful of books, a simple desk, and maybe just one or two pieces of practical decor here and there.

It’s a modern approach in the paperless world.

The key to making this simplistic look come together is to ensure every single item goes with the intended vibe. Your pen holder, your pens, whatever you’re using to affix your shelves, even your tissue box. Everything matters.

Remember, when the recipe is simple, no one ingredient can hide behind another.

9. Add Some Whiskey: Modern

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Who doesn’t love a good whiskey decanter? Or a mini bar cart in general?

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These are great for client happy hours, your own 5 o’clock hour, and particularly stressful days. Decanter and glass sets come in endless styles and sizes too, so have fun with it.

10. Add Some Whiskey: Classic

A Bottle of Whiskey and Some Glasses

I keep a vintage whiskey decanter and glass set on my desk. 

When I’m having a good day, it motivates me to keep going so I can reward myself for jobs well done. When I’m having a bad day, it motivates me to get through it so I can pour myself a stiff one.

You can find some beautiful, classic whiskey sets in vintage shops and on eBay for a wide range of prices. And they always look impressive.

11. Decorative Chess Sets

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Once at Sotheby’s, we auctioned off Robin Williams’ chess set, which was an exquisite Waterloo themed piece made of precious metals and marble.

There’s a decorative chess set out there for every personal style. And they don’t have to look cluttered. You can get super simplistic ones that are chic and modern. 

It adds an intellectual vibe to your office, and can even take the place of a valet on the coffee table. You’d just need to find new homes for the things you’d usually place in the valet.

12. World Globe Motif

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Globes are another classic visual that provides a touch of gentlemanly sensibilities to your home office. We all love a standing globe, especially if it opens up into a mini bar.

You can find globe-themed whiskey decanters, bookends, and even sconces.

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By the way, model ships and ship motifs go naturally with decorative globes too.

13. Creative Wall Clocks

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Anything in the office that can help with efficiency is good. A wall clock, or a desk clock like I have, isn’t just a cool piece of decor but a way to get the time at a glance without the risk of a scroll session.

14. Hunter’s Lodge: Classic

Hunters Lodge Themed Office

If you live in the city but have a country heart, you can express that with a hunter’s lodge style home office. You can achieve this with nature paintings, a lot of wood and leather, and decorative hunting gear.

I’ve incorporated some of this look into my own home office in New York. I have a deer trophy, a shotgun, and photographs of my grandfather’s hunts on my walls.

My main advice is to not overdo or rely too much on the stuffed animals and trophies, as it may result in your study looking like a nature museum.

15. Hunter’s Lodge: Modern

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By going for lighter colors, furs, and modern hunting-inspired decor, you can bring the hunter’s lodge theme into the 21st century.

I love these cool 3D-printed contemporary abstractions of trophies that I’ve been seeing at hip homegoods stores. You can also take nature imagery, like black and white photos or illustrations, and place them in slick, modern frames.

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16. A Touch of Youth

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There are ways to take your childhood interests and incorporate them into your office that doesn’t look like a case of arrested development.

A model airplane or racecar on a bookshelf? Why not? Balance it out by placing it next to a related coffee table book or any hardcover book. Use the book as a stand even.

You can also put up your alma mater’s pennant somewhere. Extra credit if it’s vintage.

As long as you aren’t turning your coffee table or bookshelves into a toy cabinet, touches like this add a sense of fun.

17. Get Creative with Coffee Table Books

Coffee table books are an easy way to add character to any tabletop. You can also stack a few color coordinated ones in a gallery lit bookshelf. 

Or, find a book relevant to your job, or perhaps more importantly one with a cool cover, and put it on a stand on any surface. In one iteration of my home office, I did that with a copy of A Man & His Watch, and placed my Explorer II on a stand next to it.

You can even go for the large-scale limited edition tomes that innovative art publishers like TASCHEN create. They’d definitely be the statement piece of your study.

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18. Inspirational Pieces Don’t Have to Be Corny

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Inspiring decor doesn’t have to be an old-fashioned embroidered affirmation. 

My father had a stainless steel shark statue in his home office. To him it symbolized focus, determination, and crushing the competition. 

I keep a small framed card next to my computer. It was given to me by an old boss and mentor and it reads “tomorrow won’t be easier, you’ll be better.”

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19. Different Woods, Different Vibes

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What your wood choice does to the styling of your interiors has a similar effect to how leather color influences the look of your outfit.

Brown has a more country or Americana feel. Meanwhile, black is more modern and urban. Lighter woods like birch have a brighter and cleaner look overall. That’s why they’re so popular in open-concept spaces.

Most dark polished woods have an old world class about them, though of course this depends on the style of the furniture as well.

Make sure you’re matching your wood furniture to the overall look you’re going for.

20. Pulling Off the All-Black Look

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You never actually want to style your office in true black monochrome. For one thing, it would be difficult to light.

However, if you love that black ops aesthetic, you can get the same effect by mixing different shades of black, cool grays, and dark woods. Create separation between spaces with these different shades, as well as texture and material.

For example, you can do dark slate walls, jet black decorative accents throughout, and a dark wood desk.

21. Candles Aren’t Just for the Ladies

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We may all have different preferences in aromas, but the right one can really set the mood for the day. 

A mix of uplifting spices and sandalwood can add brightness to your office without compromising the masculine environment.

A campfire-like smell would match the prior-mentioned hunting lodge visuals. You can even find candles inspired by whiskey and cigars. Actual whiskey and cigars always smell great until they’ve lingered and gotten stale—something that won’t happen with a candle.

There’s something inherently masculine about decorative weapons, EDC, and general gear, as well as artwork inspired by them. It makes your office feel like a war room.

When I was in graduate school, I lived with a bunch of guys, all of whom were in equally competitive programs. We went in on an auction item together to keep in our house—a suit of armor.

Decorative gear and weapons, whether modern or ancient, is a great symbol. Something to remind you that everyday you’re going into battle and everyday, you’re trying to win.

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23. ‘60s Swank

Don’t worry. You don’t have to go hunting for legitimate antiques to give your office the Don Draper treatment. In fact, all you need is to find two or three mid-century-inspired pieces of furniture, which are quite common.

From there, you’ll stick to mostly wood surfaces, avoiding marble, glass, or anything too sleek. Also, opt for muted tones like brown, avocado, light orange, and gold accents. You’d be surprised at how Mad Men your office will look from just making these choices.

24. Statement Lights 

If you have the budget, you can hire a professional and get something unique and bespoke. I particularly recommend this if you want a light or series of lights to serve as the visual nucleus of the whole design. The statement piece, if you will.

Otherwise, there are some pretty great plug-in chandeliers or sculptural standing lights available at any hardware store or even on Amazon. Do some digging. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

25. Neons. Yes, They Can Be Tasteful

Speaking of lights, neons have an undeniable cool factor about them. I think there’s two ways to go about incorporating neon.

Go for a mostly abstracted design in a minimalist office. Or, go for a small, simple formation to serve as an accent pop.

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Just make sure it isn’t distracting. You want it to emanate an ambiance, not take over the whole room.

26. Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Desk Lamp

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The desk lamp you choose can really transform or elevate your desk’s personality. I know it’s a pragmatic item, but don’t simply pick the one that works best. Think of it as a sculpture on your desk.

Do you need something slick, modern, and sterile?

You may need your lamp to be a pop of color, perhaps one that matches an accent wall? 

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I personally love a gold-toned or brass banker’s lamp because it looks natural on dark, polished wood.

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27. Add Some Greenery

Fortunately, a lot of the strongest looking plants also happen to be the ones that need the least maintenance. Different cactus species, for example. 

Other easy-to-care-for plants include the zamioculcas zamiifolia, or double z, which boasts high-shine leaves, and the sharp-edged agave plant. 

28. A Creative Stress Reliever

Toy Gun in office

On some days, you need more than just a stress ball or widget spinner. And you can’t always turn to that whiskey decanter.

I’ve seen some creative stress relievers, from a pocket gameboy stored in a colleague’s desk to a standing punching bag kept in a closet. A hanging speed bag would also work.

Keeping resistance bands nearby is also a good option for those of you that use mini workouts to relieve anxiety.

I personally keep a toy shotgun with real shell ejecting action under my desk. When I’m having an insane day and just need five minutes, I load her up, and take a few “shots.” The cocking and ejecting actions help me relieve pent up inefficient anxiety energy.

29. Look into Cord Management

Both for the sake of your office’s looks, as well as your own sanity, look into finding a good cable management kit.

Even those boxes used to simply store and hide your cables and cords will make your office look that much more put together in mere seconds.

30. Try a Convertible Desk or a Makeshift Convertible Desk

A convertible desk allows you to switch back and forth between standing and sitting, which in my experience, has helped me keep my energy up throughout the day. Using a standing desk can also help reduce back and shoulder pain.

You don’t even have to go all in and invest in some high-end ergonomic desk right away. Go for a support table or stand to begin with. By having two levels to place your keyboard or laptop on, one at standing height and one at sitting, you’ve effectively created a sitting-standing desk to test out.

31. Invest in a High-Quality Leather Journal

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Find one thing to record during the day or week that you do the good old fashioned way. Not through the notes app. Not on a Google doc. Put it in a journal, a nice, quality one that you’ll enjoy writing in.

You can use it to actually journal, perhaps at the beginning or end of the day. I use mine to save new, but unformulated ideas that come to me throughout the day. This way, I can avoid impromptu scroll sessions. I’ve also used one to record daily wins.

Besides, did you know that journaling is an effective way to manage stress and anxiety?

32. On-Theme Artwork

Artwork that’s inline with what you do is a great way to spruce up your home office, keep you enthusiastic about what you do, and remind yourself that you’re putting cool things out into the world.

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I have a photographer friend who has a series of images of vintage cameras hanging in his home office. I write alot about watches, so I actually display my watch winders on my bookshelf like sculptures.

It’s encouraging to think that, to many, the world you work in is worth making art about.

 33. Nature Inspired Colors

If you enjoyed the prior tip about adding some plants to your study, you can take it a step further with some nature inspired colors. 

The color green has been known to relax and calm people, particularly those who live in urban areas.

Besides, earth tones like dusty blue, forest green, and browns are a perfect mix of lively and grounded. If you’re interested in going a nature-inspired route with your palette, but are scared it might end up looking too delicate, anchor the look with dark wood furniture.

34. Try Out a Frame TV

A frame TV is one that simulates a work of art when it’s not being used. It’s so much more appealing than having a big black screen in your office.

For those of you who have big tv screens for presentations or other purposes, I highly recommend trying a frame TV. A polygonic piece of black nothingness doesn’t deserve to take up any real estate on your wall space.

35. Office-Specific Glassware or Coffee Mugs

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Get a water carafe and glass set in a different style than you have in your actual kitchen. Maybe you can use that glassware that you love, but your wife doesn’t and therefore vetoed. 

This is just one way to make hydration a bit more delightful. And it creates a sense of stability and permanence you don’t get from a water bottle.

Like having an office friend you enjoy working with but don’t hang out with outside of work, having home office touchstones as simple as a cool, different glass to drink out of gives you something office-specific to look forward to.

Nice glassware and mugs are also a good way to entertain clients. 

36. Protect your Office Valuables with a Fireproof Safe 

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If there’s a fire in your actual office, you might grab some important work items on your way out if there’s time. If one happens at your house, you have more valuable things to prioritize. Personally, I’m grabbing my dog and my watch collection on the way out.

As a form of insurance, you might want a fireproof safe or lock box to keep sensitive and high-currency work documents in.

37. Home Office Shoes Make You Stand Taller

Bruno Marc Microfiber Tassel Loafers

I know that when you’re working from home, you don’t always feel the need to change into proper work clothes. That’s totally acceptable.

For me though, I like to at least get into some proper shoes for the day. It’s one of the ways I separate my work self from my leisure self. I used to just throw on a blazer, but shoes make me stand a little taller. And, I find running around in unsupportive indoor slippers all day makes my feet sore.

Bruno Marc Velvet Tuxedo Shoes

I do live in New York city though, so I reserve a special pair of indoor dress shoes that I don’t wear outside on the dirty streets. I got them from Bruno Marc.

We reviewed Bruno Marc, but in a nut-shell, they’re a budget brand that makes a wide range of styles. 

Since they’re so cheap, there’s no sweat off my back. I only wear them indoors anyway, so I don’t have to worry about prematurely wearing them down. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to have fun with styles that I consider a touch too experimental for my everyday tastes.

Which Was Your Favorite?

I’m all about striking a balance between taking advantage of the flexibility of working from home and staying disciplined and on it, as if I had my boss in the room.

It’s different for everyone though. Some of you work best in the most casual, t-shirt and jeans, home scenario. Others might need to fully emulate a formal office environment to stay productive.

It’s all about taking the home office ideas that resonate with you, and might make you better, and implementing them your way.