Design pros share tips for living room work from home spaces
Remember when homebuyers and builders called trade shows an unnecessary red tape a decade or two ago? Apparently the rumors of their deaths were greatly exaggerated. Or, more likely, a deadly pandemic forcing millions of Americans to rethink their space needs has created an opportunity for their rebirth.
A recent study by Ferguson bathroom, kitchen and lighting gallery, a global retailer of construction and home improvement products, revealed that the room people spent the most time last year was the much-maligned salon (50%), with a third of them working there from home.
Aesthetics have given way to functionality in these revived rooms, with lighting upgrades for easier work and better video calls taking priority over chic-only decorative chandeliers. Homeowners have created workstations that allow them to telecommute, and some have crafted new dual-work-from-home arrangements as their partners were also fired from the office. (Many homes today have a dedicated home office. Few have two.)
Makeover the living room
“We see people altering their surroundings to achieve a work-to-home balance in their living spaces by changing furniture, adding storage, organizing their Zoom backgrounds, and more,” observes Brittney Herrera, co-founder. of Wild wood house, a new online and home products retailer in Portland, Oregon. “It can be liberating to consider a new use of an old space. ”
Herrera found herself in this unexpected situation of working from home and learned a few lessons from it. “Eliminate distractions if possible. At one point we moved our TV to the living room and our living room was free for work, board games, and art activities. Not having a television helped us establish the space as a creative zone rather than a demarcated zone, ”she recalls.
Herrera also stressed the need for an ergonomic seat – no, your dining chair is unlikely to perform well in the long run – and effective work lighting. Many living rooms are designed with ambient and accent lighting for the atmosphere, but not the directed lighting needed for office paperwork. To avoid eye strain and headaches from a busy schedule, consider adding a desk lamp to your temporary or permanent job from home.
You’ll also need nearby storage for supplies and files, and a way to hide your computer out of sight to go from work to play at the end of a busy day. There are updated versions of the traditional roll-up desk that conceal living room desk elements for those who don’t have a dedicated room.
Interior designer based in northern New Jersey Sharon sherman has helped many clients design works from home spaces. “I think that privacy and separation from the family environment are essential when creating a multifunctional space,” she advises. This is especially difficult in a living room, she notes, as they are usually the center of a home and may need to come back to family needs at the end of a working day.
The double challenge FMH
One of the many challenges faced by many couples over the past year has been finding space for both people to find a place to work from home, sometimes in the same room, often at the same time. It added stress to an already stressful time.
Separation is the key, says Sherman. “I have designed a lot of home work spaces for couples. Everyone having their own workspace is really important, even if some of them only work from a laptop. You need a space to sit, use your computer, and put down your cup of coffee or water bottle. People need personal space, even in a personal relationship. (Maybe especially then!)
If two adults need to share a workspace from their home, Herrera suggests, “Adding a table to the room is essential for functioning and for each person to have their own sense of space. Whether facing each other or side-by-side, a two-person home-working scenario in a living space can be a challenge, although it is not that different from the challenges that we are. faced in open concept office spaces. Using headphones during virtual meetings helps keep the peace. “
Screens, wall units and other dividers can also be useful in creating visual separation and harmony. Sherman separated her husband’s work area from the rest of the living room with tall plants. She also had to rearrange her workspace so that her computer screen was not dazzling through the large windows in the living room.
Personalize your space
What makes workspaces more inspiring and enjoyable are the personalized elements, as anyone who has ever decorated a cabin can attest. Working from home should also be a happy place to spend your 9 to 5, comments Herrera. Organizers and accessories in your favorite colors and materials can add fun to using them. Photos, collectibles, and art can conjure smiles between tasks. “It’s those things that connect us to a lifetime of memories that make a meaningful and moving space to thrive and be productive,” comments Herrera.
“I brought pictures of us like the ones he had at work and added plants to improve air quality and a bit of biophilia,” Sherman says of the workspace at her husband in the living room. “If you’re going to be working from home for an extended period of time and don’t have a dedicated space, you want to feel like you’re settled into a routine. Customizing a space allows that level of comfort to have a “place that is yours”, not just using a space to work.
As anyone who works long hours can attest, sitting in even the most ergonomic office chair for hours on end is not healthy. Office environments encourage workers to stretch their legs for refreshing breaks or to walk down the hall to a coworker’s workspace. This doesn’t necessarily happen in a home working environment, but it can. While you’re unlikely to add a treadmill desk to a living room, it’s easy to add a sit-stand desk or desk booster seats to raise your computer to a standing height.
You can also plan your office space to be within reach of open floor space for burpees between video meetings, answering your calls, or even dancing between drafts.
We could all return to our offices after the pandemic when the kids return to school full-time, and our living rooms could fall back into disuse, but that’s unlikely. Covid has shown us the connections between our homes, health, safety and functionality – and many have sadly fallen short. The current surge in home improvement activity has to do with millions of homeowners looking to improve the livability and functionality of their homes, even rooms they might have overlooked in recent decades.