The $ 150 upgrade | Design tips for a large outdoor workspace


THE GOAL: To create the perfect outdoor space for working from home or for cradling your creative side.

THE ESTIMATED BUDGET: As little as $ 150.

Millions of people have found themselves working from home over the past year. And many will likely continue to do so this summer and beyond, even if pandemic restrictions relax.

Gallery: The $ 150 Upgrade

A bonus when working from home: spending part or all of your work day away from home.

But while curling up on an outdoor couch with a laptop might seem like a treat during a workday, it’s not always conducive to getting things done. If working from home is here to stay, how can we really make our outdoor workspace as functional and professional as possible?

We asked three designers – California-based Nikki Klugh, New York-based Melanie Roy, and bedroom and consultancy interior expert Elise Nicpon, for simple, inexpensive adjustments to help create a functional and attractive place. to work outdoors.

A truly functional space

Outdoor dining tables are generally about the same height as a desk (29 to 31 inches tall). But dining chairs can be lowered and not have the back support you need.

Klugh suggests adding a lumbar pillow. And if necessary, add a seat cushion so that your arms are at the right height. (A good seat cushion / lumbar cushion combo costs around $ 50). For extra support, Nicpon recommends choosing chairs with armrests.

“It’s very useful,” says Nicpon, if you can “rest your arms like you would on an office chair, and have that structure for your back.”

If you don’t have an outdoor dining table to use as a desk, you can add a height-adjustable laptop desk with locking wheels. (There are durable metal options available for under $ 200.)

To keep office supplies and snacks handy, Roy suggests adding a rolling bar cart designed for the outdoors. Ikea’s Applaro line includes an outdoor bar cart ($ 100) and a matching closed storage bench ($ 70).

A splurge to consider for work and entertaining: add a small outdoor refrigerator to keep cold drinks close by.

Sun and rain

We go out to take advantage of the good weather. But the biggest challenge outside is the weather. A large, adjustable umbrella can help combat the heat and glare of the sun if you don’t have an awning or roof over it. Another option: a fabric “shade sail” that you can put on on the workspace of your choice. (Basic rectangles are available for around $ 35, although sail kits with poles can cost $ 100 and up.)

To better manage glare, Klugh recommends an anti-glare screen protector if you’re working outdoors on a laptop (around $ 30).

And a ceiling fan is a great addition to keep the air moving, so the heat and humidity doesn’t distract you. A table fan also makes a valuable difference (good little fans are available for $ 15).

Confidentiality and professionalism

Many telecommuters spend part of the day on video calls. If you’re zooming in from your outdoor workspace, make sure the background looks professional.

A simple and elegant option: Klugh says that exterior curtain panels can help create privacy, provide an attractive Zoom background, and also add style to your outdoor space.

Another option: Roy notes that many companies make outdoor shelving. Use one or two to create a space for work-related supplies that can also serve as a business background for video calls.

To create more privacy (and scent the air), Nicpon suggests adding vertical planters with flowering plants inside. Especially in small outdoor spaces with neighbors nearby, they are useful for demarcating your workspace and creating a screen if you need it.


All three of the designers recommend adding a Wi-Fi booster (prices vary, but available for as little as $ 20) if your signal is weaker outdoors. And while many homes have at least one outdoor electrical outlet, it can be handy to add another near where you want to work.

To stay more connected to news or online content, Roy points out that secure outdoor TVs have become much cheaper.

The final touch

Want to invest a little more? Outdoor heat lamps come in many shapes and sizes and can make your outdoor space work-friendly for much of the year in many parts of the country.

And for real madness, Roy proposes to create a dedicated workspace by adding a pergola or a wooden pavilion on an area of ​​cobblestones.

It’s a bigger investment, but it can give you a real field office.

Whatever your budget, Nicpon recommends that you work outdoors at least once in a while. “It’s such a more dynamic experience for you as a worker,” she says. “It changes how you feel.”


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