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Designer Tips on Taking a Home Office to the Next Level Amid a Quarantine


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Right before California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide stay-at-home order March 19, interior designer Oliver Furth (whose clients have included Imagine co-chair Michael Rosenberg and UTA’s Jim Berkus) saw a flurry of activity. Says Furth, “We just rushed home offices for two clients, including a feature film director.” Interior and graphic designer Marissa Zajack, of Marissa Zajack Creative, has been busy too, helping client Alexis Martin Woodall, president of Ryan Murphy Productions. “I am in the process of doing a home office for her — since she’s home all the time now,” says Zajack. “Specifically, it’s a home-office slash-closet. This is a rental home, and she wants an area that does double duty.” With it looking likely that people will be working at home for a long stretch, A-list interior designers share resources for pulling together WFH office spaces that are pleasing and also engender productivity, plus spotlight home office designs they’ve completed. Says Demitri Sgourakis of Demitri Christian Interior Design, who recently finished a home office for a star client: “People in the entertainment industry know how important creating great imagery is, even if it’s just for video conferencing from home.”

As Furth sees it, “the approach to a home office isn’t the same as a regular office — after all, you’re at home — but some of the same things do apply. Most folks work from a laptop at home, so a roomy desk is helpful, but we don’t need gigantic surfaces or places to store heavy equipment. I think storage is important though; sometimes a home office does double duty as a dining room, study, bedroom, et cetera. So it’s helpful to have a place to put away computer supplies or paperwork when not in use. I think a plant or fresh flowers are important too, as they humanize a space that might otherwise seem cold or depressing.”


“It’s interesting: While many [clients] have home offices, they’ve essentially been something people haven’t been spending a lot of time in until now,” says New York-based designer Joy Moyler (whose clients have included Leonardo DiCaprio and John Mayer). Now that these home offices are no longer just occasional “drop-in” spaces, she says, “it’s resulted in clients asking for more solid functional items and more storage options. I am also purchasing hard-working classic Knoll and Henry Miller desk chairs, instead of lighter, more decorative ones.” Moyler is a fan of Eames’ classic Soft Pad chair, while Zajack just acquired a Saarinen executive office chair from 1stdibs, due to arrive in a few weeks. Adds Furth, “I like BQ Ergonomics, which has wonderful options if you’re going to be sitting for a long time.”


For a completely streamlined process, designer Chad Dorsey has introduced a service called Home Office Designs, which includes four different sets of WFH furnishings (from $3,000 to $8,000), available for immediate shipping. “All my clients talk about how they are working from the dining table, but if they are going to be home for two months, we need to figure out something better,” says Dorsey. Each kit includes a storage piece, lamp, chair, rug, decorative object, optional art and a desk that’s less than 5 feet in width “so they can fit in your home — that was really the key.”


“I like table lamps for nice ambient light, because there’s nothing like bad lighting on a Zoom,” says Zajack, whose current go-to sources online include Y Lighting and Circa Lighting (where she recently purchased a Kelly Wearstler Cleo table lamp). Adds Furth, “Lighting is very important, especially so at home where we don’t necessarily have rows of fluorescent lights overhead. So desk lamps become key. It’s wonderful to get light directly on the point where you’re working, also a lamp brings something pretty to look at while you’re slaving away. 


Shannon Wollack of Studio Life/ Style finds herself especially into vintage right now because “these are not only great sustainable alternatives but are also in stock with no lead times.” For one of his quick turnaround jobs, Furth relied on vintage pieces from Culver City’s Obsolete and Beverly Boulevard’s Orange Furniture (including a 1970s Pace desk).


Higher-end furniture often can take weeks and weeks to deliver, even in normal times. “This is a good time to utilize bigger-box stores, because they can ship out pretty easily,” says Zajack, who ordered CB2’s Marisa Burl Wood Desk for her rush job. Other great options for readily available items include Sixpenny, Serena & Lily (for consoles and desks) and Semihandmade (which offers attractive wood covers for Ikea cabinets and storage furniture). And while having an attractive home office certainly ranks as a luxury, it can, as interior designer Jeff Andrews (whose clients have included Kris Jenner, Ryan Seacrest and Carrie Ann Inaba) puts it, help people “stay sane and productive in times of stress.”

A version of this story first appeared in the April 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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