Three months of being sheltered in place has allowed most of us to get into the groove of hermit life, creating new routines, getting used to spending an absurd amount of time with our loved ones and roommates, and finding productive ways to work from home.
While some businesses are starting to reopen, many others are holding off for now or even forgoing the office altogether, leaving many of us to our own devices to determine what a functional home-work setup looks like. Here, we take a step into the home offices of five Bay Area designers and get their tips for creating a productive and stylish workspace.
Clara Jung, founder of Banner Day
(Courtesy of Clara Jung)
"Carving out a space to work from home can be challenging, but if you can find an empty corner in your home, you don't need much to transform it into a place of productivity," says Clara Jung of Banner Day Interiors.
- Start with the basics: a laptop, a writing table, and a sturdy chair.
- Reduce desktop clutter and facilitate better focus by adding vessels to hide headphones, charging cables, and writing utensils.
- Some foraged greens from outside can easily beautify your home office.
Alicia Cheung Lichtenstein and Eva Muller Bradley, Studio Heimat
(Courtesy of Eva Muller Bradley)
Alicia Cheung Lichtenstein and Eva Muller Bradley run Studio Heimat from each of their homes, amongst children, husbands, and dogs. Seen here is Bradley's desk, situated in her bedroom.
To create the perfect home office, they suggest:
- Make sure your space has a comfortable chair. Even though you are home, you still need the basics—enough desk space, and any ergonomic items you need to be on top of your game. Invest in a good chair and keyboard tray to be as comfortable as possible.
- Focus on natural light if possible. Place your work area by a window—it helps to keep your mood up, and to feel less isolated.
- Add some greenery. "I've got my little victory garden nursery started on my desk, which I'll transfer to the yard soon," says Lichtenstein. "Eva has a big tree next to her desk—it's nice to have something alive around your desk to keep things fresh."
- Keep a scented candle nearby. It can really help to enhance your mood and experience, and is a little treat during the day.
- Consider putting some effort into your backdrop for your virtual calls. Ideally you can place yourself with some natural light shining on your face (as opposed to a window behind you so you don't look like a shadow). If you have some artwork up, or garden or outdoor space, that would also be a make for a nice backdrop.
(Courtesy of Ken Fulk)
"I am grateful to have spent most of the last few months working from a very special studio at my house in San Francisco which we fondly call the Tree House," says Ken Fulk. "My office was actually designed back in 1959 to be the home office for the first owner, a renowned psychiatrist. His original daybed is still in the house—now covered in leopard linen of course! Outside my studio window is a serene meditation garden that helps bring a sense of calmness during the day. Naturally, I recognize how utterly fortunate I am, and understand not everyone has this same sort of set up."
Below are Fulk's tips.
- Regardless of the space you have to work from, you can still make it feel special and inviting. Most markets have flowers these days—grab a few the next time you're shopping and brighten up your desk. Peonies, my personal favorite, are in season right now and smell wonderful while you're working.
- If you have the space, make sure you have a comfortable chair to relax in and not just a traditional desk chair. I find that if I have options of where to sit, I don't go as stir crazy.
- Finally, make sure you have good lighting. I like a nice task light with minimal overhead. Of course my own personal favorite part of working from home has been my office mates, one or more of our four dogs. Certainly a silver lining of SIP has been to be able to spend more time at home with them over the past few months.
(Courtesy of Jay Jeffers)
- Hone in on home. Make the home office not feel like an office. Give the room more of a library or study feel with shelving filled with books, family photos, or other objects that make you happy–happiness leads to more productivity!
- Perfect desk placement: If possible, invest in a nice sculptural desk. Alternatively, place your existing table or desk in the center of a room, facing a window or your favorite interior view of your home.
- Contain the clutter: Devote a small portion of the closet for a printer or other equipment so it's out of sight. Better yet, go paperless as much as possible to maintain organization. Use decorative baskets to keep other necessary items hidden, giving the room a more residential feel.
- Be bold. Lastly, give the home office some personality. Paint or wallpaper the walls, use a comfy wingback chair as a desk chair, or hang some unique art. Adding a lovely chandelier or desk lamp not only adds flair, but ensures better lighting for video calls. If you don't have a separate room, use a desk as a nightstand on one side. Add a nice lamp or flowers, and be sure to keep it tidy!
Lauren Nelson, Lauren Nelson Design
(Courtesy of Lauren Nelson)
For Lauren Nelson, owner and principal of Lauren Nelson Design, a workspace should be designed with wellness in mind. This includes:
- Make your workspace comfortable with as much natural light as possible to keep up the vitamin D endorphins, and be flexible with where you work.
- Some people only like to work from one space but, personally, I like mixing it up and changing spots so it doesn't feel stagnant. We do this at the studio, too. Sometimes we work in the design room, sometimes sitting at our own desks, and sometimes at our communal standing desk.
- I like drinking tea as a ritual and a small break from staring at the computer screen.