Remember when you used to commute into an office? When you’d spend the day working under strip lighting, have kitchen chats with colleagues and get in a grump when someone used your Special Office Mug? Over the last year, as many of us have switched to remote working, our homes have morphed into offices. Whether you have a dedicated room or you’ve commandeered a corner of your bedroom/living room/kitchen, you want your work space to feel calm, ordered and stylish.
For Maddy Potts, interiors influencer and author of blog, This 1870 House, her bedroom doubles up as her workspace. “I clear everything down at the end of the day – laptop stand away, laptop in a drawer – so it’s not there overnight. But the main thing with creating your work-from-home space is to do what works for you.” With that in mind, Maddy and two other interiors gurus share their stylish home office ideas.
Pick hues you love
“Choose colours that make you truly happy. You might find yellow uplifting, while others find it jarring. You might like the calmness of grey, while another person won’t. My home workspace is a mixture of forest green and white. I wanted something bold on which artwork and my predominately white Ikea furniture would stand out. The combination seems to work in all seasons. It’s uplifting in summer, yet cosy on dark winter afternoons,” says interiors blogger Carole King.
Choose your desk and chair wisely
“A good chair makes a huge difference. Remember that you need to be comfortable sitting in it all day – and that might not necessarily be a high-backed, fancy, ergonomic office chair. I use a soft, upholstered armchair,” says Maddy. When it comes to a desk, Scarlett Blakley, Creative Director at Ophelia Blake Interior Design, has this advice. “You want to ensure it is practical and good quality so that it will last. Ensure the size suits your space and that you can comfortably move around and get in and out of your chair. There are so many different styles out there, including industrial style with warm timbers and metals, or a more crisp-looking desk finished in a neutral colour with elements of brass or marble.”
Accessories are key
“My work is pretty much all paperless – even my notebooks are gathering dust in favour of note-taking apps – so I keep my desk fairly clean,” says Maddy. “I have a coffee mug I only use while I’m working – I don’t know why it helps, but it feels like a nod to the Office Coffee Mug. And a candle diffuser is nice, too.” Carole adds: “There’s nothing like a sheepskin to warm up a hard office chair. And a rug underfoot. I also find that an anglepoise lamp is indispensable. I turn mine on even when it’s not dark. I love a pool of light on the desk.”
Invest in Zoom-worthy foliage
“I love to have as much greenery around me as possible. Houseplants make any Zoom background look good and they are a great excuse to stand up for a leg stretch to water, prune or generally faff with them. In my ‘office’ I’ve got a monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant), a fiddle leaf fig tree, some devil’s ivy, an asparagus fern and a string of hearts,” says Maddy. “I also particularly love dried flowers at the moment because I worry about the sustainability of buying fresh flowers in winter – I recently discovered you can easily dust them using the lowest, coldest setting on your hairdryer!”
Sort your storage
“Because I’m super tidy, I prefer cabinets for storage. That way everything can be hidden away out of sight. I have a few shelves for books and files I use every day, and some others for decoration only. And I file as I go,” says Carole. “I’ve also had a small trolley on wheels for years now which is a bit of a multi-tasker. It has a printer on the lower shelf which I can wheel out of the way when I’m not using it. And I use the top as an extra work surface when needed. I’d advise anyone to get one,” says Carole.
Give your walls some love
“Floating shelves are hugely popular in home office environments at the moment. They can add character to otherwise plain walls. Try dressing them with 3D objects, artwork and plants to add style,” says Scarlett.“Or you could go for artwork walls. Use a mixture of prints, paintings and 3D items, and experiment with quirky frames to add extra interest. Or invest in one large piece of statement artwork if it suits your space more.”
Make small tweaks
“If you’re on a stretched budget, invest in some good quality paint and feature handles to upcycle an existing piece of furniture. It’s simple but so effective in giving your home office a fresh look,” says Scarlett. “Meanwhile, you could also introduce a fabric voile to your windows to soften the natural light that enters the room. Use a fabric which still allows the light into the room but not enough to floor the space. Pick a voile which has a subtle pattern and texture to add interest to your room.”
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