(Updated April 27, 2020) One Kings Lane recently reposted the above photo of my old desk setup from our San Francisco apartment so I wanted to update this post to provide a little work from home inspiration. We lived in this apartment from 2015-2016, and I launched this blog and my design business from this very spot!
A great workspace needs 5 things: the right location in your home, a comfortable desk/chair combo, good lighting, something green, and a few things that make you smile.
Contrary to the common advice that one should make their bedroom a sacred space for sleeping, we placed my work desk in the bay window of our bedroom to take advantage of the natural light and a lovely view of the garden out back. I’d much rather look at the sky than a wall while I’m working! To keep the bedroom serene I made sure the desk didn’t overflow with papers and used a calming color scheme of pale blues and greens. Think about your lifestyle and needs when choosing the place for your desk. For parents the ideal desk location might be a quiet place away from the kids playroom, or in a converted closet so you can close the doors on work when the day is done!
Foremost your desk and chair should be ergonomically correct, picking a desktop and chair height that allow your arms to rest comfortably at a 90 degree angle while you type. If the desktop is too high or two low it can hurt you over long periods of use. The desk above is one of our favorite antique finds. There are usually a couple antique Jacobean tables to be found online and this one is almost exactly the same as ours. To keep the look from becoming too dark and heavy I paired it with this modern acrylic slither chair. The slither chair is surprisingly comfortable and was just the right height for me to use with this desk and doesn’t take up much visual space. Be sure to put a rug down with this chair, as the bottom is prone to scratching wood floors. My exact rug is no longer available but this one is very similar and has just a little extra texture. (Love this less expensive option too!)
A well-lit workspace is key and table lamps are a wonderful way to inject personality into your home office. I have a weakness for all things blue and white and the chinoiserie lamps were a wedding gift from my parents. I tried to track down the exact lamp – which is by Ralph Lauren – and couldn’t find any online though sometimes they still pop up on eBay. (Similar here, here, and here!) I picked up the ceramic garden stool in NYC’s chinatown but they’ve become very popular in the last couple of years and now online retailers have many designs to choose from like this and this. Garden stools are so versatile and I have six tucked around the house. They come in handy as side tables, step stools, or extra seating.
It took me a long time to put up drapes in our SF apartment because we were renters and I thought it would be too much of a hassle to install. Then I discovered Ikea has an easy and – as expected – affordable bay window rod system and I was thrilled! Adding these linen drapes to the bedroom gave us a little more privacy and the strong vertical lines make our ceiling feel even taller. They made the room feel so much more “finished” I’m surprised it took me so long to put them up. Drapery panels are easy to carry with you from house to house (if you move as often as we do) and you can see them used in our second SF home here, and the oatmeal colored version in our NYC apartment here.
I loved having a large house plant in our bay window as an extension of the garden outside, and I can’t overstate the importance of including plants as a part of your decor. I remember thinking the air felt so much cleaner after bringing our areca palm tree home, and who doesn’t feel happier having fresh flowers on their desk? I potted the palm in this black planter and placed it on this stand for some additional height so the fronds would arch nicely over the table.
No workspace is complete without a few decorative odds and ends that make you smile. For me I love this vintage deco style vase with two horse heads that I use as a pencil holder, a beautiful set of dominos David gave me for Christmas last year, and 3D printed heads (one of me and one of David) that we made in SoHo on an early date. I group my massive collection of coffee table books by color and use them on almost every surface to vary the height of the tablescape. For my desk I picked tomes in blues and greens. You can see the six I used on my desk (including my favorite snack that I can’t remove from this list ) here.
Photo: Laura Resen for One Kings Lane
Blue and White Lamps (similar here and here, and here!) // Garden Stool (similar, less expensive here) // Drapes // Slither Chair (similar here and rattan here) // Antique Desk (almost exact same here) // Design Books // Planter // Plant Stand // Vintage Horse Head Vase // Similar Rug