By Lexi Kentmann
As many of us make the shift to work from home, potentially from a busy household bustling with both kids and adults, we’re looking for ways to increase productivity, positivity and flex some style skills while we’re at it.
Since myself making the switch to work remotely just six weeks ago, while not a tenured pro – I still like to think I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve. Mainly: whatever you do, get out of your pyjamas. It’s a mind trick (almost Jedi-like) that switches me into that work mindframe. And get some sunlight every single day.
While we’re focused on social distancing and coming to terms with what that means, we asked six interiors experts how they’re making the transition. While some of them have worked remotely for some time and have already nailed the art, others are meeting isolation in a creative way (hello snacks cupboard!) – but each has their own approach on what works for them.
STAY FOCUSED (and stay away from the snacks): Heather Nette King, stylist + author
I work from home in my colourful little office, but with the obvious isolation measures in place now, what is usually a quite solitary pursuit has grown to include my daughters, whose university classes have now gone online, and my husband’s agency had a trial ‘work from home’ day yesterday. So, it was a very different scene here in our little apartment. I am actually finding it very, very hard to keep my focus and avoid distractions – so I’ll have to work on that. So far, the only creatures that seem to be thrilled with the new arrangements are our pets, who now have more choice of whose feet to sit at.
One thing I have been thinking about is doing a quick dash to my storage cage to collect the rest of my books. I only bought a selection here when we downsized from our previous home, but I’ve a hunch I will have loads more time to read them. It’s weird that this fantasy of getting more time to read and to slow down has materialised, but I think we will all be way too anxious to really enjoy it.
And I guess that propping for shoots will largely be done online, as so many stores and showrooms are sensibly implementing ‘appointment only’ visits. I will have to become extremely organised to work that way, as I usually just head out and see where the shops take me.
On what is (I hope) the more lighthearted downside, my capacity to be a fridge-bother has increased exponentially. We usually shop for food day to day, but I’ve found that having a cupboard full of biscuits and chips and stuff I would not usually think of buying, to be another massive distraction. I’m going to have to buy a lock because those chocolate teddy bear biscuits are playing games with my mind!
Stay safe people.
BE DILIGENT: Rachel Castle, Castle + Things
My son is in HSC, so I’m VERY much looking forward to the new social distancing rules, especially coming into the weekends before exams! Teenagers would rather eat dirt than wash their hands, so this novel new activity is proving difficult to enforce but I am being diligent, I think it’s key to keeping healthy. New rules are my old rules: Armaforce, sleep, good food and rest. And being nice and kind to one another.
MAXIMISE SPACE: Shelley Mason, Project 82
Our busy family includes a teenager, a four year old, a cat and a dog – so we’ll definitely be wanting to make the most of each and every corner of our home!
We’re lucky enough to have an extra room which isn’t currently being utilised to its best, so I’m converting this space into a designated work/study area for Luella (my teen) and myself to work from.
I’ve got a dedicated desk coupled with two of our Suzie chairs, which are comfortable enough to sit on all day if need be. This combined with a sofa in the corner to take a break and catch up on news, Instagram, Tiktok etc, will have us set up for work/life balance and harmony for however long we’re isolated.
SLOW DOWN + CONNECT: Samantha Seljak, Seljak Brand
As the social climate is increasingly uncertain, it’s an opportunity, and our responsibility, to slow down, stay home, stay safe and get cosy.
Whether you live alone or with others, make a space you can use to reset. I’ve got the watercolour paints out and made a space in the living room for art. I’ve downloaded a bunch of Classic Flow podcasts (yoga classes set to live classical music – so uplifting) and am embracing other online communities. Transform your living room, bedroom or outdoor space into your studio; for art, for dancing, for chilling and for connecting (digitally) with others.
If you’re working at home, find a way to create variation in your daily routine. Mornings in the kitchen with a coffee; afternoons in a sunny nook somewhere else in your home. Separate the working and relaxing phases of your day with candles, incense or by smudging to reset the vibe. Bring the outside in with plants so you have something to nurture. And, of course, keep cosy and comfortable with blankets.
Keeping healthy – inside and out – and enabling yourself to feel positive and balanced is so important at a time like this.
LET THERE BE LIGHT (and fresh air): Anna Williams, Your Beautiful Home
Working from home permanently means making a few key changes. The most important thing is to ensure your desk and chair are set up at the right heights to ensure comfort and good posture when you’re spending more hours in the home office. Eight hours on the cheap plastic chair you have had since flatting days is far from ideal! Investing in a quality chair is well worth considering – as is a desk that can be altered from sitting to standing height.
Your space needs to be somewhere you can easily focus. For some people, this means a very clear desk with minimal distraction – time to pack away the kids’ colouring books and textas. Other more creative types may need to create a pinboard of inspiration and reference to make the space their own. Think about what motivates you and set up your space to be inviting. Pinned magazine pictures, family photos and a scented candle? Neatly organised trays of stationery and a clear to-do list?
Good lighting is often overlooked when working from home. Making sure you have adequate overhead lighting or task lighting (for example a good desk lamp) is crucial to productive days in the home office.
Consider what access you have to fresh air. Often a study is tucked away in a corner of the house – if you’re going to be there every day can you relocate to a spot where you have an outlook onto the garden, or at least a fresh breeze? This will do wonders for clear thinking.
As a designer who already works from home, I’ve been used to self isolation for a while. The key for me was to have a designated work zone, not the couch or the bed, a zone that was just for work time. The other was to keep a tidy house. When you spend all your time in one space, make sure it’s looking the best it can. Visual mess makes for a mental clutter.
Got tips on how to make the most of your work from home station? Share your ideas in comments!
—Lexi Kentmann is an experienced PR and marketing professional, specialising in working with brands in interiors and lifestyle.