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Designing a work-from-home space that actually works

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Lauren Edith Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
A beautifully designed work-from-home space can be achieved with a few simple changes that allow for both peace and productivity, interior designer Celeste Randolph says.

When many of us left the office and started working from home in March, we couldn’t have known we would still be working from home in October – and settling in for the long haul.

Instead of coping with the stack of cookbooks on the dining room table still functioning as a standing desk, now is the perfect time to design a functional and beautiful home office. Even if you don’t have a designated room in your home to use as an office, consider how an unused nook or corner might be transformed into a space for maximum productivity with a few thoughtfully edited pieces.

Begin by surveying your current work-from-home setup or home office. Clients often ask me how they can inexpensively update these spaces in their homes, and my response is that sometimes the best update is to edit.

Remove the things that are causing clutter. Loose papers can be moved into a filing system or drawers, and the books on the bookcase can be pared down to only those that feel relevant and that you most often use. Taking the paper covers off hardcover books and arranging books by color can instantly make a bookcase look cleaner and more composed.

Cleaning the windows, wiping down dusty surfaces and swapping out both photos and frames make the entire space feel fresh. A few houseplants, an air purifier, a favorite candle and a speaker or good headphones for music create a sense of calm. If you have shelves already built in, curate a few items for display that bring you inspiration and joy.

Keep it simple

You can create a work-from-home setup in any space in your home beginning with just a table and chair. Simple Ikea desks in white and Ikea’s floating Lack shelving create instant work spaces. Add wooden stools with rush seats; I like painting the legs in an accent color for something fun, quick and inexpensive. Painting lamp shades in a contrasting color is another alternative for adding a pop of color to a simple space.

For the best lighting, choose a space with a window in front of you to illuminate your face and avoid appearing backlit. If the space doesn’t have a window nearby, prop up a mirror next to your table or desk to add light and depth.

A woven blanket or velvet pillow on a desk chair or armchair adds warmth and comfort. Customize the space by moving a knit blanket from the living room into your workspace, or use a throw pillow from the bed to cushion a desk chair. An old armchair gains new life through reupholstering; play with color-blocking or patterns in a neutral room, or neutral linen in a more colorful room.

Fewer pieces of furniture will keep the space from feeling claustrophobic. A wooden desk or table and a comfortable desk chair are essential, but a well-lit corner with an armchair and edited bookcase can create a second place for deep work to be done.

With decor, simpler is also better here. Don’t be afraid to leave some void space, as it will help keep the room from feeling cluttered. I love painting an entire room in a shade of white for a fresh, clean feeling, and adding a statement mirror or art piece for visual interest. A wallpapered accent wall is another option. Choose a design that is bright and whimsical if you are a creative person, or a toned-down print for a more minimalist look.

A beautifully designed work-from-home space doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. With a few simple changes, anyone can create a space that allows for both peace and productivity. While it may not feel like going to the office, these design strategies will help you create a work-from-home setup you actually love.

Celeste Randolph is an interior designer in Los Altos. For more information, visit celesterandolphdesigns.com.

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