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Pandemic or not, for many employees, working from home is becoming the new normal. As a result, creating at-home workspaces that can offer multiple family members privacy, function, and comfort promises to be one of the biggest design challenges of the decade. Among the creatives tackling it is Denver-based interior designer Kirsten Brundage. In 2016, her firm, the Interior, helped design Shift Workspaces’ Bannock campus, which quickly became one of the Mile High City’s most popular coworking spaces. We asked Brundage to troubleshoot the work-from-home design dilemmas that have cropped up this past year—and to share her best advice for creating a savvy workspace that’s in it for the long haul.
Problem: Your Zoom-meeting backdrop could use some color or pattern.
Solution: A magnetic wallcovering. “Weitzner makes a magnetic wallpaper (available at Egg & Dart) that looks like linen and comes in a rainbow of colors, from brights to neutrals—a tasteful way to hang notes and reminders on the wall,” Brundage says. If you have children, go for a durable vinyl wallpaper that can handle doodles and messy fingerprints. Brundage’s pick: Schumacher’s “Views of Paris” pattern.
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Problem: You’re still sparring with your spouse over who gets the designated office area each day.
Solution: A built-in desk. Have a guest room you use only a few times a year? Brundage says its closet could be a perfect spot for a built-in desk, cabinet, and floating shelves. “If you’ve got the space, this is the way to go,” she says. “I might mix a custom desk by Vonmod—who could pair a laminate top with a raw-wood edge—with a colorful seat by Blu Dot.”
Problem: Your back is in knots from working at the kitchen table, but you’re not ready to splurge on a fancy desk and ergonomic chair.
Solution: Smart, flexible furnishings that can function elsewhere in the house when you’re not working, or if you eventually return to your real office. A Parsons-style dining chair, for example, could pull up to an indoor console table that doubles as a desk. Or, if you prefer working from the sofa, consider investing in one with built-in outlets, integrated end tables for laptops, or frames that incorporate storage space for books and papers. Brundage’s favorites: Jae Omar Design’s Prometheus sofa and Rose Tarlow’s Library sofa.
Problem: Your important work documents and to-do lists are comingling with your kids’ finger paintings.
Solution: A multipurpose filing cabinet. “Commercial office furniture manufacturer Deskmakers’ Synapse collection [available locally through Interior Concepts] includes a file cabinet on casters, which I customize by upholstering the top,” Brundage says. “It’s a seat and storage spot that can tuck under a desk at the end of the day.” Further whittle down your papers by going for doors you can write on. “At Shift, and at my own office, we applied a white laminate surface to doors and cabinet fronts,” Brundage says. Jot down notes with a dry-erase marker, wipe clean, and repeat.