With more Brits than ever working from home, here’s how to add Instagram-worthy touches to your home office
Words: Katie Treggiden
As the cold weather draws in, there’s something particularly tempting about working from home (and not only because it means being completely in charge of the ‘office’ thermostat). Indeed, research shows that more than 1.52 million Brits now work full-time from our kitchen tables, bedroom desks and garden sheds, up 19% from a decade ago. And it’s women who are driving the trend. Of course, if you’re going to spend so much time in one place, it helps if it looks exceptionally good. Turn over for advice from some of the wisest industry experts on how to draw inspiration from the biggest home office trends.
Instead of hard, industrial interiors, opt for softer, more natural colours to create a relaxed, homely space
Combine Rose Quartz – Pantone’s hottest colour for 2016 – with the warm metallic trend we’ve inherited from Scandinavia, and you’ve got instant office chic. Emma Morley, founder and creative director of interior design agency Trifle (triflecreative.com), shares her tips on how to turn your office into a pink-hued dream.
- View soft pink on the walls as a warm neutral rather than a scary accent colour. Calamine, £43.50 for 2.5L, Farrow & Ball, Subtle Blush, £13.94 for 2.5L, B&Q or Love Note, £27 for 5L, Dulux will work well in both modern and more traditional settings.
- If you’re still hesitant, start by painting a small wall, bookshelf or chimney breast in a dusky pink – remember it’s always easier to add more than to take it away.
- Once you have your blush pink backdrop, introduce accessories in warm metallic materials like copper and rose gold to add interest. The options are endless (think statement lamps and beautiful candle holders) but stationery is particularly good – seek out pink and copper pen-holders and files or dusky pink notebooks to nod to the trend.
- If you want ‘temporary’ impact, try injecting some pink into your home office with a statement rug. Kangan Arora has made beautiful designs for floorstory.co.uk and Linie Design for heals.com use the blush pink palette brilliantly (neutrals and mineral greys also work well alongside pink).
Get a little vision in your life with a Pinterest-worthy moodboard
For those who struggle with creativity, moodboards can be a genius way to help visualise things – from work projects, to personal goals. Interior designer Sophie Robinson (sophierobinson.co.uk) shares her top tips.
- Moodboards should be fluid so you can add and remove images at will. I use washi tape, in lots of different designs and patterns (you’ll find plenty at thefoxandstar.co.uk), to quickly pull together each new collection of images. Trim your pictures too, so you can overlap them, for an organic feel.
- If you don’t have an actual board, use a brightly painted wall as a background, so your images really pop. Make sure you use a scrubbable paint.
- Narrow-width picture shelves (try the Mosslanda white picture ledge, £4.50, Ikea) are a great way to make an ever-changing display. You can rest framed pictures, a selection of moodboards mounted on foam board (available from Hobbycraft), or even small 3D objects on the shelves.
- If you’d prefer something more formal, curate a gallery wall of framed pictures. The key is to mix different frames with a selection of images, linking them all with a theme or colour. I use picture-hanging strips (available in most supermarkets), rather than knocking hundreds of nails in the walls, which also allows me to change the pictures as the mood takes me.
Inject a decidedly Tracey Emin-esque vibe into your office with vibrant neon touches
“Bold neon statements can lift your spirits in an office environment, giving you the strength to face your inbox,” say interior design duo 2 Lovely Gays (2lovelygays.com). Create your own signs using neon alphabet kits (theletteroom.com; notonthehighstreet.com), or commission bespoke lights from companies such as Kemp London and The Electric Sign Workshop (electricsignworkshop.co.uk). Here’s how to make it work for you.
- Neon letters are meant to be fun,” says Louise Wicksteed, from interior design company 1508 London. “Spell your initials above your desk, or choose inspirational words to help you focus.”
- “Think about which colours will work with your space,” says Sally Bendelow, creative product director at notonthehighstreet.com “Bright pink looks great in a space filled with vibrant plants, whereas fresh white works within a minimal, pared-back scheme.”
- “Images such as a thunderbolt or a cloud work well too,” says Pippa Roberts, co-founder of Jackdaw Studio (jackdawstudio.com). “But keep it simple. The more complicated the design, the more it will cost – outlines can work really well.”
- “Choose your font carefully to contrast or complement your message (for example, use a whimsical font for a very bold, brave slogan),” says Roberts. “Play with script or boldness to see which one conveys your message best and if in doubt, go bigger.”
- A final word on installation: “Mount your design onto an aluminium tray,” advises Roberts. “The tray can be painted to match the wall and will hide the transformer and wires. Plus, if you relocate, it will be easy to remove. Always use a qualified electrician for installation.”
A touch of greenery
Good news for nature lovers: plants in office spaces increase productivity and happiness
“Plants bring an element of life to our desk. We can watch them grow and change daily.” says design photographer India Hobson (indiahobson.co.uk). Plus, with three million Instagram ‘cactus’ posts and counting, succulents have almost as much kudos as owning a central London flat right now. You don’t have to be green-fingered to make it work either. The Conran Shop does a great range of planters and your local garden centre is best for small plants and succulents. Sophie Lee, of plant delivery service Geo Fleur (geo-fleur.com) shares tips for adding greenery to your space.
- Choose air-purifying plants, such as a peace lily or Boston fern, and place them next to computers to remove toxins from the air.
- If you have a busy job, opt for low maintenance plants. Sansevieria (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant) and cacti are so hardy they can withstand being ignored. Just mist them once a fortnight and place them near bright light.
- Most houseplants should be misted weekly. The biggest killer is overwatering though, so don’t pour water directly into the plant pot. All plants need good natural light, but few will survive strong midday sun, so position them in a bright but sheltered area.
- Choose a plant that produces lots of offshoots such as pilea peperomioides – you can give away its shoots as gifts to clients or friends when they visit your (enviable) home office. Bonus.
Photography: Camera Press, Syns.com, Haarkon.co.uk