Design & Home

How Interior Designers and Architects Work From Home

Advice from the pros on how to make your own setup happier and more productive.

Architect Carmel Greer's home office. Photos of Greer's space by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.
Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

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Need some inspiration to improve your Quarantine 2020 office space? We asked some of Washington’s top architects and designers for photos of their own home work spaces, as well as a little insight into how they made their setups pleasant and productive. Here’s what they told us.

Janet Bloomberg, founder of KUBE Architecture

Photos by Julia Heine.

“I sit in my red Herman Miller Striad chair (above) with my laptop, OR I sit on my black Muuto couch (top photo) looking out at my yard,” writes Bloomberg via email. “If you can work on a laptop, rather than a desktop, find a comfortable chair with a great view… I’m on the phone A LOT, so I like being able to lounge on my couch or sit in my chair with legs up on an ottoman. There’s no reason you have to be in a desk chair when you’re on the phone. …Your home work space should have nice natural light, if possible, for better light quality, less energy use, and a pleasant atmosphere.”

Lauren Liess, designer, and host of HGTV’s “Best House on the Block”

“I like to keep my workspace super clean and empty so it’s ready for work. Every day I make sure to pack away all of my things— papers, laptop etc.— so I have a clean slate to start with the next day,” Liess writes. “If there’s space on your work surface, I’d recommend having a vase for cut greens or flowers or a potted plant. I find that a little bit of life and beauty really lifts my spirits.”

Tenley Masson, designer, Zoe Feldman Design

“Some of the most important aspects to a productive and comfortable workspace for me are fresh air, natural light, and having some plants in the space,” Masson writes. “I believe these are important characteristics of a cheerful and healthy work environment, along with keeping it neat and organized. I like soft music or the TV on quietly in the background, and I usually light a few candles.”

Zach Stamatis, designer, Zoe Feldman Design

“As many DC residents know, apartment living can be challenging when trying to maximize space. It can easily start to feel like we are cooped up during this quarantine period, which is why it’s so important to utilize the natural light in your space and bring the outdoors in with greenery,” writes Stamatis. “I encourage everyone to take this time at home to rearrange furniture to fit your current needs. Create multifunctional areas, like using your dining table as your daytime desk. If your type of work allows for it, explore getting tasks done in areas you normally wouldn’t sit down with a computer. Try checking your email at the kitchen island, the dining table, or even the sofa. Take advantage of this opportunity, and challenge the conventional idea that we should be at a desk from 9-5, and discover where you feel most productive.”

Annie Elliott, founder, Annie Elliott Design

Photo by Jenn Verrier
Photo by Angie Seckinger.

“Even if you love your home office, I like to work in different parts of the house during the workday,” writes Elliott. “I might start out in the dining room, then move up to my office when I need my materials and client files, and then plunk down in the comfiest chair in the living room if I have some writing to do. Moving around keeps me sharper than being parked at my desk all day.”

Carmel Greer, founder, District Design

“I think part of what makes the room feel special is the fact that the desk sits in the middle of the room, looking out at a large south facing window, rather than the typical arrangement where the desk faces the wall,” writes Greer. “Giving the desk a central place in the room also means that it can be a special piece of furniture. This desk is a Portuguese writing table from Noir. My other favorite part of this room is the wallpaper! The wallpaper is a graphic designer’s modification of a Rousseau Painting. A lot of storage for papers, etc. never hurts, so there are cabinets and file drawers built into the wall behind the desk.”

Nicole Crowder, founder and furniture designer, Nicole Crowder Upholstery

“Working from home feels familiar and comfortable because my first year working full-time as an upholsterer, I actually work from this living room, so it’s like a mini déjà vu,” writes Crowder. “I made my home space more conducive for working by setting up my sewing machine on my card table, and I cut fabric on my living room floor. Any foam and padding material that I need to store is in my coat closet. My balcony is currently used as overflow for any additional oversized chairs. At the end of each day, I store my tools and materials either in a closet or tucked in the corner so that my living room can feel more like a living space and not a workspace.”

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She was previously a reporter for Legal Times and the National Law Journal. She has recently written about the decades-old slaying of a young mother in rural Virginia, and the brazen con of a local real-estate scion. Kashino lives in Northeast DC with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.