We Asked 13 Designers to Share Their Work-From-Home Setups and Tips

We Asked 13 Designers to Share Their Work-From-Home Setups and Tips

By Cat Dash
Peek inside some of our favorite designers’ home offices, and get their tips for creating a successful WFH setup (or mindset) of your own.

Because we could all use a little home-office inspiration right now, we asked some of our favorite creatives to share their own shelter–in–place work spaces. Plus, we rounded up their tips and takeaways for making the best of working from home—even if that means getting the job done from your kitchen table. 

1. Brady Tolbert, creative director at Bobby Berk

Creative Director Brady Tolbert's pint-sized home office includes an ever-evolving inspiration board that serves as an outward expression of what he's thinking about.

WFH setup: "My first few days of working from home consisted of me perched at the dining table with my laptop, but recently, I've been working from our little office area (which never saw any action before). I've loved having a tiny little space that is separate from everything and allows me to focus. It's got all the necessities right at my fingertips and loads of visual inspiration on the walls to keep me feeling creative."

WFH tip: "For me, in a time when in-person connection is limited, it's been so important to find things that still make me happy and give my brain some time to disconnect and replenish. Whether that's flipping through coffee table books or magazines, browsing through Pinterest for inspiration or taking it as far as creating a wall–to–wall inspiration board in our office (which was one of the first things I did)—it all helps me get through a time where things feel so different and create some normalcy for yourself." 


2. Angie Myung, co-founder and chief creative officer at Poketo

Poketo co-founder and chief creative officer Angie Myung converted her guest room into her home office, incorporating cheery details to keep morale up.

WFH setup: "I'm used to working at home on my phone or my laptop on weekday mornings and evenings outside of my office so the idea of working at home wasn't challenging, but bringing my desktop from the office and setting up the standing desk really felt more official. Now, this guest room is my new office now."

WFH tip: "I wanted to infuse our home office with cheerful colors that are reminiscent of Poketo, so I brought home our Spectrum Wall Planner and  Geometric Sticky Notes—our go-to items for keeping the creative office on schedule. And, in addition to my favorite notebooks and desk pads, I've placed some joyful and beautiful items on the desk—as a reminder that better days will come."


3. Hopie Stockman, co-founder of Block Shop

Block Shop Co-Founder Hopie Stockman chose her favorite room in her Montecito Heights house as the location for her makeshift home office.

WFH setup: "I live in a sweet and somewhat ramshackle rental up in Montecito Heights, in northeast Los Angeles. The best part of my house is the eating area, a built-in nook surrounded by windows with views dotted by cypress, palm trees, and scruffy canyons. I turned it into my desk, so I can work with a view out the windows. It connects me to the natural cadence of the day...birds coming to life in the morning, neighbors settling into their evenings, coyotes at night." 

WFH tip: "Because all communication (between co-workers, family, friends from college, my design network, etc.) is suddenly online and happening at once, everything is starting to blend. I’ve noticed I’ve had to practice more digital restraint. So my advice is this: try to respect people’s sanity by keeping work communication to working hours."


4. Lauren Nelson, owner and principal at Lauren Nelson Design

Northern-California based Interior Designer Lauren Nelson's dining table morphs into the perfect spot for online conference calls when her two daughters are out of the house.

WFH setup: "My team has been amazing and flexible with my odd hours as I juggle my work life and my home life, with two young girls at home. I work afternoons and late nights, trading shifts with my husband. When my husband takes the girls out of the house to ride bikes or go on a hike, I have two spots where I work and take Zoom meetings, including this dining table." 

WFH tip: "Make your workspace comfortable with as much natural light as possible to keep up the vitamin–D endorphins, and be flexible with where you work. Some people only like to work from one space but personally, I like mixing it up and changing spots so it doesn't feel stagnant."

5. Jake Rodehuth-Harrison, co-founder of Etc.etera

When working from home, ETC.etera co-founder Jake Rodehuth-Harrison places his laptop on a stack of book to helps reduce neck strain.

WFH Setup: "It varies from day to day, but mostly I try to keep to a separate work space as my 'office,' to keep some sense of distance from the rest of the house. This is usually the dining room table with a view of the outdoors (and easy access to the kitchen for snacks!)."

WFH Tip: "Try to go beyond just placing a computer somewhere and calling it an office. Bring in a lamp from somewhere else in the home. Add a stack of books, a favorite vase or sculpture, a scented candle. It helps to make it feel more intentional than just a space out of necessity. If you can, put up a mood board, surrounding yourself with beautiful images is always a great way to create a productive and inspiring space. And if you can avoid it, keep your office space out of your bedroom!"

6. Nick Cope, managing director at Calico Wallpaper

Textile Designer Rachel Cope's dining table-turned-studio at her Hudson Valley home.

WFH Setup: "Rachel and I were fortunate enough to be able to relocate to our house in the Hudson Valley. In order to have a private place for focused work, we have converted the guest bedroom into a barebones office, where I am holding all of my Zoom meetings, and I'm reading and researching there as well. Rachel has set up a much more spacious art studio downstairs by commandeering half of the dining table, and on warm days she takes her watercolors outside so that she can paint on the screened-in porch. The biggest adjustment has been keeping our two little kids busy."

WFH Tip: "For Rachel and me, maintaining separate workspaces has been important so that we are able to jump in and out of our workflow when the moment strikes—or, more likely, when the kids allow it. I understand that we are in a more unique situation as a husband–and–wife team, but in general, I feel that maintaining a private space from a spouse, or roommate, is really important. I am truly tricking myself into treating our small guest room like an office every day, and so far, it has been really effective."


7. Cathy Bailey, co-owner and creative director at Heath Ceramics

Heath co-owner and creative directory Cathy Bailey's home office is steps away from her kitchen, which means she can easily take breaks in the day for meal prep or baking.


WFH Setup: "I am working at home in this blue office, but instead of a plant on the desk, there is a monitor. It's next to the kitchen, but I'm in a separate room, so it gives some privacy. And, I am really enjoying some cooking/meeting multitasking—yesterday's midday break was baking coconut cookies."

WFH Tip: "In the past, a structured work/home balance felt optional, but now it's vital. For example, our new evening routine: each family member rotates in cooking dinner, and when it's your turn, the computer closes at exactly 5:30 pm to get dinner together. If it's not your turn, you have until exactly 6:30 pm until you need to turn off. There might be a little more work to pick up on later, but the added discipline seems to be helping us all get our work done quicker."

8. Sara Combs, interior designer and co-founder of The Joshua Tree House

Designer Sara Combs' work setup at Posada by The Joshua Tree House, her five-suite inn bordering Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona.

WFH Setup: "I’ve found myself working in the kitchen of our Tucson inn most days, at a small cafe table typically meant for our guests to have their morning coffee and pastries. There are two things I’m really loving about this space: there's lots of sunlight, and it feels a bit like working out of a coffee shop—something I’m missing right now."

WFH Tip: "First things first, I always get dressed as I would if I were to go out. I do this for myself to set the mood for each day. Changing at the end of the day into sweats creates a separation of work and life that I always appreciate, especially when work and home life can be so blurred. This goes the same for certain spaces at home—I make a point not to work in my bedroom, and charge my phone each night out in the living room so that the first and last moments of each day are not work related."

9. Dan Mazzarini, founder of BHDM Design

Interior Designer Dan Mazzarini's kitchen table doubles as a desk when he's working from his North Fork home.

WFH Setup: "We just bought this fixer-upper home in December on the North Fork [of Long Island, New York]. When we learned that permits for a renovation were going to take six months, we slapped some white paint on everything (like...everything: floors, plywood subfloors, doors, door knobs) as a band aid for the summer. Flash forward a few months, and we decided to hunker down here, outside the city. To that end, my unplanned 'work' setup is our dining table in the great room—that is also the family room, kitchen, and now includes the survival essentials of bar and gym, all in one."

WFH Tip: "I make a to-do list each day, but I make an effort to forgive myself when I can't accomplish everything on that list. We're all working differently now, and for me it's important to be kind to ourselves, too. Also, my proximity to our countertop bar has been crucial. Happy Hour started at 5:30 pm, but now seems to be closer to 4:30 pm...creative juices have never been more important."

10. Bobby Berk, interior designer and co-host of Netflix’s Queer Eye

Bobby Berk, host of Netflix's Queer Eye, has been working from nearly every room in his house.

WFH Setup: "Day to day and hour to hour it can change. I've been filming a lot of content both for social and for my website so my 'office' has been the kitchen, the dining room, the living room and even outside where we've been filming daily workout videos for Instagram. During the times that I have been working through emails or design drawings, I work mostly from my iPad which allows me to move around and create an office wherever I need."

WFH Tip: "My noise-canceling headphones are essential. I use them all the time when I travel, but they have helped so much while working from home. I can put them on and cut out any distractions or noise in the house, which allows me to focus."

11. Michaele Simmering, founder and creative director at Kalon

Working from home is old hat for Kalon founder and creative director Michaele Simmering whose had an in-home studio since she launched her business.

WFH Setup: "We’ve always worked out of a home studio, so in some sense, there’s not a lot of adjustment. In many ways, we grew our company in the exact environment everyone else is adjusting to right now. But our staff has moved out—they’re all working remotely now—and our children have moved in. So, the atmosphere is different. There’s a lot more crafting and PJs in the office."

WFH Tip: "Maintaining a strict nine–to–five work day and honoring weekends has been essential for me over the years. The same is true now."

12. Ginny Macdonald, founder and principal at Ginny Macdonald Design

Interior designer Ginny Macdonald's dining room is easily converted into a cozy office when she's working from home. 

WFH Setup: "I'm currently working from our dining room table and have my printer and project board set up close by. I've been using objects from around the house like pretty placemats, ceramic dishes, and wooden trays to corral office stationary such as pens, paper clips, and my tape measure. It makes it feel homey and personal rather than buying specific products that are sold as stationary essentials (i.e. pencil cups, a letter tray, etc.)."

WFH Tip: "I've had to be more strict about keeping focus. As a creative business owner, my mind can excitedly wander in a million different directions and from project to project. With less office distractions and in-person meetings to prepare for, the work–from–home time has allowed me to batch work. This means that I'm now honing in on one task at a time, as opposed to several at once. I'm hoping to take this with me once we regain some normalcy and I get to work from my studio again."

13. Robert McKinley, founder of Studio Robert McKinley

While sheltering in place at his Montauk Bungalow, Robert Mckinley's likes to work from his den—a room that helps him get into a deep work flow.

WFH Setup: "Working from home has been surprisingly productive and creative. I think being in a comfortable place with less distractions allows me to focus on one thing at a time and get into a deep work flow. I am in one of two places, either at my breakfast nook or the den which is named 'The Red Room.' The nook is light-filled and minimal, while the red room is warm and a bit moodier."

WFH Tip: "Get up and do your normal morning routine, get dressed, and schedule your work day so that you have some structure."

Related Reading: 

Here’s How to Survive Working From Home With a Partner or Roommates

17 Architects and Designers on How the Pandemic Will Change Our Homes Forever

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