Working from home tips: How to re-vamp your set-up, according to an interior designer

Louise Whitbread
Whether you're looking to buy a brand new desk or update your workspace with soft furnishings alone, these are products you need (Topology Interiors)
Whether you're looking to buy a brand new desk or update your workspace with soft furnishings alone, these are products you need (Topology Interiors)

If, like us, you're bored of looking at the same four walls after four months of working from home during lockdown, then it's time for an interiors update.

Whether you're working from a corner of your bedroom or in a separate study, no matter how big or small a change you make, adjusting your workspace can do wonders for your productivity and motivation.

Focusing on your home set-up may feel redundant as lockdown starts to lift, but some of us could still be working from home for many more months, and sprucing up your space may get you out of that WFH funk.

As the pandemic has forced us to merge our office and personal spaces, keeping them as separate as possible is also important, so your lunch breaks, evenings and weekends don’t feel consumed by your work.

Nor do you want to be constantly distracted by your surroundings when you’re trying to juggle Zoom calls with your boss and excel sheets.

Here's how to re-vamp your space, no matter how big or small your budget.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Desk space

If you haven’t already, invest in a desk, so you can separate your workday from your downtime and have an organised office-esque space.

This kullaberg desk (Ikea, £100) works as both a dining table and work desk, depending on whether you mount the cross at underframe edge or in the middle.

If you want to keep it exclusively for work, mount the cross by the underframe’s one edge, but if you need room to sit on both sides, mount the cross in the middle.

While working from home, get a good desk and chair that will help your posture and productivity (Ikea )Ikea
While working from home, get a good desk and chair that will help your posture and productivity (Ikea )Ikea

It’s ideal if you’re limited on space and want a versatile worktop that would suit a job that might not be a traditional office role, such as a florist or artist, as it has plenty of space to spread out.

Athina Bluff, designer at online interiors service, Topology Interiors, says: “Try to think of tidying your desk as similar to making your bed – keeping both clean and neat will aid a tidy mind, perfect for relaxing in but also working in too.”

There’s also a matching swivel chair (Ikea, £50) with adjustable height, back support and a metal ring underneath for you to rest your feet on.

Where you put your desk is also important, says Bluff. “Think about the positioning of your desk – is it facing a wall? If so, this is proven to be unhelpful in terms of boosting creativity and productivity as facing a wall is unstimulating.”

She recommends, if you can, to position your desk adjacent or opposite a window as the gentle influx of natural light and movement will boost productivity.

However, if that’s not an option, “try hanging a mirror above your desk and this will mimic the effect of being in front of a window," she says.

Create the illusion of space with a hanging mirror above your deskNkuku
Create the illusion of space with a hanging mirror above your deskNkuku

This vintage rectangular wall mirror (Nkuku, £79.95), is a perfect option. It's simple in style so will complement other interiors and will make the room feel bigger.

Bluff also suggests adding red accessories to your desk: “Red is the first colour the naked human eye sees, so it's very stimulating and a pop of it will wake up the brain and boost energy and productivity."

Introduce some colour into your workspace with stationary pieces such as this pen potDot Maison
Introduce some colour into your workspace with stationary pieces such as this pen potDot Maison

We love this Pantone pencil cup (Dot Maison, £10.39), for storing all your stationery while adding colour and style.

How to separate work from pleasure

If your workstation is intertwined with your bedroom due a lack of space, Joanna Thornhill, interior stylist and author of My bedroom is an office: & other interior design dilemmas, recommends strategically placing items that will divide the two.

“Place an empty basket close by that you can simply offload everything into at the end of your working day," she says.

We’d recommend this Adenta medium pink, orange and black floor storage basket (The Basket Room, £105), as it's big enough to fit a laptop, keyboard and important documents.

Using a dedicated storage space such as this bright basket is one way of separating your work from your downtimeThe Basket Room
Using a dedicated storage space such as this bright basket is one way of separating your work from your downtimeThe Basket Room

Made from ethically-sourced veta vera grass, this colourful piece is hand-rolled by a cooperative of weaving artisans in Northern Ghana. Sadly this one is currently sold out, but you can sign up to be notified when stock returns.

“Or alternatively, invest in a chic room divider so you can literally hide it all away once you’ve logged off,” says Thornhill.

This palmiera openwork pine screen with foliage motif (Maisons Du Monde, £132) caught our eye for its statement design that can easily be folded up and stored behind a door or used to create a little alcove when unfolded.

If you're working from your bedroom, use a folding divider to separate the two spaces for your own peace of mindMaisons Du Monde
If you're working from your bedroom, use a folding divider to separate the two spaces for your own peace of mindMaisons Du Monde

Investing in an ergonomic office chair will also be beneficial they may be unsightly, but your back and neck will thank you for it. Thornhill suggests disguising one with loose fabrics or a simple throw if you really don’t like the way it looks.

In our guide to the best ergonomic chairs, the HAG Capisco 8106 ergonomic office chair (Posturite, £957.60), won the top spot as the perfect compromise between comfort and aesthetics. It's an expensive investment, but it will look the part in any room and will last you a long time. Plus, can you really but a price on protecting your back?

This chic chair means you can look after your joints and avoid backache without having to settle on an unsightly design (Posturite)
This chic chair means you can look after your joints and avoid backache without having to settle on an unsightly design (Posturite)

Our reviewer noted that the saddle-shaped back and tactile footrests encourage you to experiment with how you’re sitting, which could make it a smart choice for people who like to move about while they sit.

“It’s great for perching – a position achieved by raising the height of the seat and sitting forward. You can also give yourself a nice breather by leaning right back on it, which is extremely relaxing once you’ve learnt to fully trust the chair,” said our tester.

Plants

If you're working from your bedroom, Bluff advises adding plants to your work space, as they will also act as a divider and detract from the fact you've got a work set-up in your place of sleep.

“Plants are proven to aid calm as they subconsciously connect us with nature,” she explains. From our round-up of the best mood-boosting house plants, this monstera minima (Canopy Plants, from £22) won us over for being a great house plant for beginners.

Boost your mood and space with lush green foliageCanopy Plants
Boost your mood and space with lush green foliageCanopy Plants

It’s easy to care for, only requiring watering about once a week once the top inch of soil has become dry, and will need re-potting once a year if you want it to stay upright.

Interestingly, it grows sideways, but you can train it to grow up a bamboo cane or down from a bookcase or shelf.

There’s also plenty of budget-friendly options that don’t involve purchasing pricier accessories or foliage.

“Instead of buying a plant for your desk, consider getting a drinking glass, filling it up with a little water and popping a single flower, or foliage stem from your local park or garden inside it – this will make the workstation feel a bit more homely without spending anything,” says Bluff.

For more interiors inspiration, visit our IndyBest home and garden section

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