Like millions of people across the UK, writer Megan Murray is now working from home full time from her kitchen table. After feeling in a state of flux for too long, here’s how she’s making her new office feel like somewhere she wants to be.
Working from home used to be a treat. No 6.30am commute from Brighton (where I recently moved to) to London, proper kitchen facilities to whip up something yummy for lunch and two hours of time recovered in the evening to spend with my partner and get on the wines early, instead of being pressed into someone’s armpit.
But these days working from home isn’t such a dreamy notion. After three weeks of lockdown, working from my flat feels less like a one-off novelty and instead, a concrete part of my life for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the need to carve out a space I feel comfortable and inspired in is becoming more vital by the day.
Personally, I’ve set up shop on my rather small kitchen table. It also straddles the living space (turns out flats in Brighton are pretty small, too), sits in a shadow and faces the shoe rack, which doesn’t feel particularly aspirational.
For me, aesthetics are really important, so if I’m sitting in an environment that pleases my eye, chances are my mood (and even my work) will benefit hugely. So I’ve taken to trying out some little hacks to transform my kitchen table into the work space of my dreams, to help me feel inspired and engaged at work, (without spending too much money in the process.)
Add a tablecloth
Textures can stop a space feeling cold and bare, offering a lived-in feel. In an ideal world I’d go for either a base tablecloth with a runner atop of it, or two tablecloths layered together in complimentary colours or patterns. If you position them at different angles their hems should both show, creating a two-tone effect.
Fill a vase with fresh flowers
Such a simple touch, but flowers instantly make me happy. Position some in the centre of your table and I think they’ll brighten your day. A simple, rustic approach is to pop some bright tulips in a clear, glass mason jar. I also quite like sunflowers for their joyful connotations.
Use coffee table books to add height
Take your set up to the next level and layer coffee table books in tonal colours to give your table a bit of personality. I like to put a short stack in the centre of the table to create a pedestal for whatever feels like my centre piece. Maybe that’s a photo frame or plant – for me it’s a bunch of botanicals.
Treat yourself to a calming candle
For most of us, working from home doesn’t make your job any less hectic. What they say about the wonders of calming fragrances is actually true (just ask our beauty team) so you might find that a fresh cotton-scented candle, or something containing lavender, helps aid your stress.
Even more so, a candle creates a sense of atmosphere. The way it hangs in the air will make you feel more centred to your surroundings, and create a positive association with this time in your day.
It’s time for a new notebook
I’m a huge stationery buff, but buying a new notebook genuinely makes me feel more excited about work. Fresh pages are filled with promise, and a pretty cover looks so lovely positioned next to my laptop that I feel more in control simply by association.
You need light!
If your work space doesn’t benefit from natural light, make sure you’re not sitting there squinting. Constant strain on your eyes will irritate you throughout the day and so to feel comfortable your light game needs to be on point. I’ve got a small lamp that can easily sit on my table, which is really handy as the sun flits around my flat.
Make sure you have a power source near you
There is nothing more irritating than getting into the groove and then realising your laptop is low on battery, and having to shuffle around to get near a plug. If this is going to be your office for the next few weeks (or months), you need to feel fully set up. I would recommend ordering a new phone charger too, so that there’s always one at your work station.
Buy yourself a teapot
Have you ever noticed that tea just seems to make everything okay? Not only that, but it makes me feel cosy inside. Essentially, tea feels like home. So, I like to keep a pot of warm tea on my new desk all day to make me feel settled.
Oh, and a pretty cup and saucer to go with it
One great thing about being out of the office? No more dirty, cracked, tea-stained mugs. Treat yourself to a beautiful cup and saucer and you’ll feel like a proper grown up.
Space for a pin board?
If your table sits opposite a wall, or runs alongside one, simply order a sticky hook to pop on your wall and a plain cork board. Neither of these things have to be permanent (or expensive) but they will not only help you make the space your own but if you pin up to-do lists and fun quotes or things that inspire you, it will encourage you to get shit done.
Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.