Like you, we can remember the exact date that so much of our lives shifted into our home space. Overnight, home became the place you and your family not only live, but also work, recreate, and attend school. This massive transition happened in the blink of an eye, so it’s understandable if you haven’t taken the time to intentionally carve out the areas or rooms in your home that accommodate all of these purposes.
And while a kid’s bedroom or the dining room table are decent stand-ins for a classroom, and the backyard or even a fire escape can provide outdoor respite, that desk where you used to let the mail pile up does not a home office make. Even if you’ve got an entire room dedicated as your work space, we’d venture to guess it’s not as efficient or as beautiful as you’d like it to be.
We think now would be a great time to revisit this part of your multi-purpose abode. We’re not talking about a full-on home office renovation; more of a light-touch makeover.
The look, feel, and functionality of the desk at which you toil is of tantamount importance when it comes to creating joy in your home work space. Just as important, of course, is the chair that holds you. These two pieces of furniture make contact with your body throughout the day, creating an actual, tactile bond that can’t be ignored.
And then, of course, there’s the practical stuff. Is your desk the right size for your workload and work style? Do you need drawers or would you prefer a sweet little filing cabinet? Does your chair suit your body type and physical needs? Luckily, all of these questions can be answered by the folks at Branch. We love the simplicity of their aesthetic and the accessibility of their price point. If you get the desk and the chair right, you’re off to a pretty spectacular start.
YOUR COFFEE STATION
CREDIT: WILLIAMS SONOMA
It may be the water cooler that gets all the love in pop culture but we’re guessing the preferred beverage dispenser in most offices is the one that holds the coffee. Depending on the time of day and just how busy you are, it may not even matter that the coffee isn’t that good. The fact that it’s there, right when you need it, can be everything. Replicating this magic at home is pretty simple, but as you know by now, don’t expect an intern to make the coffee for you.
Whether you go with a pot, a percolator, a press, or pour-over, start with excellent beans. We happen to enjoy Elegy Coffee (our founder, Patrick, is a partner), which uses beans from Anchorhead Coffee Company and ships to your home. If you don’t already have a favorite local roaster, you can easily find one thanks to our country’s (still) growing obsession with third-wave coffee.
If espresso is more your thing, check out the Breville Barista Express. It’s sleek and simple and can turn your fancy beans into delicious espresso “in under a minute” with a built-in grinder. This one feature helps us inch ever closer to our de-cluttered fantasy.
Which reminds us: One huge advantage to the home coffee set-up is the freedom you have to make it beautiful. Unlike the office situation – likely involving some sort of pod system and a collection of poorly-washed mugs or, worse, disposable cups – your home coffee station can be an oasis of relaxed order in your chaotic day. For this, we turn to Tokyo- and LA-based Kinto. Their use of “organic forms, calm colors, and warm textures” encourages you to ritualize your coffee experience and provides the perfect opportunity for a forced pause in your workday. Anything that allows you to create intention around what is essentially a habit is truly a win in our book.
YOUR INSPIRATION …STATION
(Just can’t stop with the consistent headings!)
CREDIT: MARTHA STEWART / GETTY / KATARZYNABIALASIEWICZ
Have you noticed where your visual focus locks when you’re on a Zoom call? Are you looking at the other people or fixated on your own forehead? Or are you, like so many of us, picking apart your background piece-by-uninspired-piece? Sprucing up your surroundings not only gives your eyes a lovely place to land, it could also spark joy in other meeting participants, inspiring them to make a few positive changes in their own space.
Start simply with a pleasing paint color. Theories and studies abound regarding what, exactly, is the best color to achieve a particular result, from calming to energizing and everything in between (even brainstorming!). We say look at a bunch of options and follow your instinct. Some part of your brain that you may not have conscious access to will steer you in the right direction. And speaking of your brain, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint continue to off-gas even after the initial odor subsides, so be sure to choose a low- or no-VOC paint to save brain cells for years to come.
Finally, consider what adorns that perfectly painted wall of yours. Art has proven benefits in all types of workspaces, and your home office is no exception. From lowering stress to increasing creativity, art does so much more than just look nice (though that’s a sweet benefit, too). If you don’t know what kind of art you prefer, start by discovering or browsing the work of local artists (we know of a great little company that uses reclaimed wood to create beautiful original art... *wink emoji*). Artnet has an artist database that’s searchable by city or state, and many locales have artist markets or open studios. And with art, as with so many things, asking your friends or anyone whose taste you admire will no doubt produce a few names for you to look into. Many, many artists are active on social media, and their accounts can give you a healthy sense of a creator’s portfolio.
We’re feeling hopeful that the end of necessary work-from-home life is in sight, but there’s no doubt the pandemic will have lasting impacts on workplace culture and the prevalence of remote offices. Even if you eventually end up working from home only part of the time, you’ll be glad you created a functionally gorgeous little space that’s all yours. Addressing the rest of your well-loved quarantine castle may be a topic for another post...