5 Top Designers Offer Tips For Creating A Productive And Pretty Work From Home Space

If you are new to the work from home scene, as many have become in the past weeks, or want to spruce up your current home office, top designers Tracy Morris, Keira St. Claire, Kelley Proxmire, Pamela Harvey and Annie Elliott offer their best tips for creating a productive and pretty environment with a focus on lighting, organization and comfort.


A dedicated home office is not required to set up a work from home space. Tracy Morris places a desk with a comfortable chair below a window for a bright and functional work area in this cozy living room. Photo by Greg Powers.

Tracy Morris of Tracy Morris Design says to create a clean and uncluttered environment. “Put away any papers or items that you aren’t actively working on,” she says. “A clear desk will lead to a clear mind and will help you focus.” If you don’t have a dedicated home office, you can make one in any room in the house, such as the living room, but make sure you have a comfortable chair. “When working from home, we don’t always have the luxuries of a perfectly ergonomic desk chair,” Morris says. “Placing a small pillow for lumbar support or layering a blanket for additional softness to an existing chair can go a long way especially when sitting for long stretches of time.”


Neutral colors are calming, says Keira St. Claire of Anthony Wilder, who designed this loft with a desk overlooking the outdoor setting and window seats as alternate work from home spaces. Photo by John Cole.

“Good lighting is everything,” says Keira St. Claire of Anthony Wilder. “Natural light is the best, but if natural light is scarce, decide on the right artificial lighting.” St. Claire suggests thinking about how warm or bright lights make you feel and consider dimmers to control the amount of light. Whenever possible, position your furniture to take advantage of the outdoor setting, too. “Nature is known to have a positive effect on our mood,” St. Claire says. “Since now more than ever we are spending time indoors, exterior environments impact everything we do.”


This home office designed by Kelley Proxmire provides a couple of options for working from home including the traditional desk, as well as separate chairs for a change of scenery – both surrounded by art and family photos. Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.

All the designers agree that a pretty lamp on a desk can make all the difference. “I prefer a lamp versus overhead lighting,” says Kelley Proxmire of Kelley Proxmire, Inc. Being surrounded by favorite art and scents can make a difference, too. “I have portraits of my dogs on the wall opposite my desk,” Proxmire adds, while London shades on her office windows in a favorite fabric combo – navy and orange – give positive vibes throughout the day.


Working from home is a family affair in this home office by Pamela Harvey where she created a children’s corner. Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.

A dedicated work area may mean adding a spot for the family as well. Pamela Harvey of Pamela Harvey Interiors says, “Working at home with the kids and pets can be overwhelming right now, so consider setting up an area for the children that looks a little like your space so they can feel as if they are accomplishing some important work, too.” Keeping to a schedule increases productivity as well. “Time block your schedule for the day and share it with everyone else who is home now,” Harvey adds. Plan a time to eat lunch together and “schedule to listen to a motivating podcast at your least productive time of the day.”


Both a petite writing desk and a vintage secretary can be work from home spaces. Bonus: smaller work areas help minimize clutter. Design by Annie Elliott. Photo by Jenn Verrier.

“Just because you’re doing real work doesn’t mean your desk can’t be attractive,” says Annie Elliott of Annie Elliott Design. She suggests considering a petite writing desk or a vintage secretary instead of a clunky office desk if you work in your living room or bedroom. “Most are large enough for a laptop, a cup of coffee and a notebook, and a small desk is easy to tidy up at the end of the workday,” she adds. “Let’s be honest – if you have to spread out a bunch of papers, you’ll use the dining room table or the floor anyway.”

For more inspiration for your work from home space, be sure to check out these 7 home offices, as featured in the ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME winter 2019 issue. 


Sherry Moeller is a contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine.

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