We stood outside of the redbrick Edwardian house on dreamy Parliament Hill and thought, that’s it, we’re home! Whilst our one-bedroom flat doesn’t have an outside space, with Hampstead Heath at one end of the road and Sound End Green at the other, we knew we’d be fine with the Heath on our doorstep.
Fast-forward a year and a bit and here we are in lock-down, both working remotely. We’ve had to adapt and adopt new ways of working in order to strike a balance to keep our home still feeling like home, whilst also creating a flexible workspace. I’ve found that there are several factors that, when considered, could make this work all the merrier for everyone involved.
Routine and understanding
Falling into a routine that works for everyone is essential. Are you the one that lives for that extra 15 minutes in bed? Me too. The best thing about working from home is getting that commute-time back. I roll out of bed, complete my ablutions and get a pot of coffee on the go. And all before the time I would have usually arrived at work! Now the only thing that makes this even better is that my husband is an early-bird and has, by this point, already been at his computer for two hours. Breakfast is done and dusted, coffee sipped and, for the rest of the day, we’re about two hours apart. It works perfectly. We’re both aware of the need for quiet when we’re in meetings and know our respective place when it comes to setting up one’s workspace. Minimal fuss, maximum output.
Storage and packing away at the end of the day
More than ever, finishing work on time is of paramount importance. Setting aside time to switch off and for home to feel like home, rather than your workplace, is the key to happy home times. Find a drawer, a hidden shelf, a cupboard or even a secluded spot behind the sofa to hide everything that says work, away. Long-term flexible furniture that works hard, multi-tasks and looks good is worth considering. Our saving grace piece is the Chichester workstation. It holds our television, equips me with a surface to work from, provides handy additional storage for all of the books we don’t necessarily want on display (my collection of Jilly Cooper novels), gives us an additional two shelves of space to hold books we do…the list goes on and on. On top of this, it’s painted in beautiful matt Navy on the outside, Saffron inside. Bold without being overbearing, hard-working without looking functional.
Preferred jobs and strategic chores
I love pottering. This drives my husband mad. Yet it is truly my favourite thing to do and usually results in me doing lots of little jobs that didn’t actually need doing. At all. But occasionally I just can’t focus, and faffing seems like the only thing that will subvert my attention from feeling stuck at home with lots of work and a total lack of colleagues to entertain me. This is where strategic chores come in. By the end, I’ll have spent my time wisely and done all the jobs he hates. That way, at the end of the day, I’ve got the perfect excuse not to do dinner. Winning!
Room functions and favourite spots
Books and bookcases are the unsung interiors heroes of the moment. Going one step further than the #shelfie movement, how better to display your creative and intellectual credentials than by using your expertly curated collection of books as the perfect backdrop to your Zoom meetings? Luckily, our sofa is set in front of an integrated wall of books. A favourite spot that has a purpose. Result! Over the past few weeks, my beady interiors eye has spied and admired, amongst others, the shelves of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Duchess of Cambridge. I even found myself admiring NatWest CEO Alison Rose’s bookshelves as she was interviewed by BBC news last week. Other significant shelves, sure to inspire, include Oprah Winfrey’s epic arrangement of books at home, magazine editor Fleur Cowles’ study in her Albany set and interior designer David Hicks’ symmetrical pink pyramid scheme. Every shelf tells a story.
Face time and fun times
Digital hosting has definitely become the new normal. Who doesn’t like an end-of-the-day drink at home? Despite spending more time looking at a screen than ever, it’s such a treat to spend time discussing the day’s events with friends. Equally, meetings with colleagues on screen offers a much-needed session of team chat, catching up. These digital downloads bring people together and offer the perfect opportunity to let go of the working day and ease yourself into relaxing at home. Once again, it’s a case of finding a balance and moving back to using your home more for what it was intended to be: a sanctuary.
Now, more than ever, home is at the heart of every day. And whilst we adjust to life as it is at the moment, our homes can be relied on for security and comfort. From reading for relaxation to spreadsheets and emails for work, lock-down life is all about making the most of our four walls.