How to Make Your Home Office Chic
Local interior designers share their tips for creating a stylish, functional workspace.
If working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that a home office — whether that’s a spare bedroom, a dining room nook or any place you go to hide from nosy children — has never been more important.
And if the thought of another Zoom meeting with your coworkers (all those eyes judging your space!) has you cringing, help is available on the next few pages.
We asked four local interior designers to unveil their personal offices as inspiration during the pandemic. We’re also sharing their tips for creating an environment that’s functional — and also sparks creativity.
“Ask yourself what you need for storage and to work efficiently,” recommends Alisha Gwen, owner of Alisha Gwen Interior Design in Shadyside. “Then, surround yourself with colors, patterns, photos, art, accessories that you love and that inspire you.”
Read on for more ways to create a stylish and effective workspace in your own home.
BLACK CHERRY DESIGN
After COVID-19 forced her to close her Garfield studio, Black Cherry Design owner Lauren Piasecki transformed her home’s underutilized sunroom into a stylish work and home-schooling space by using pieces she already owns — or that she was able to source locally and safely.
The mother of two adds that for temporary work-from-home spaces, there’s no need to invest in office furniture, which can get pricey.
Instead of a file cabinet, she’s using an old dresser to store work-related items. A patchwork chair, along with a grey lounge chair, was pulled from another room, while a small glass table was repurposed as a desk.
“I think you can definitely shop your house, even if you’re borrowing from other rooms,” she says.
Instead of turning to Amazon, she procured other home office necessities from local business owners, many of whom, she says, are willing to go the extra mile (including curbside deliveries) to keep up sales during the pandemic. The fun pencil floor lamp is from Who Knew? Retro Mod Decor in Lawrenceville, and the wooden bench is from Port & Bow, a hand-built furniture and woodworking store also in Lawrenceville.
To give the room charm, she added rugs and artwork.
“I think whatever space you have, you should make it as beautiful as possible and make it feel like the rest of your home,” she says. “You should say, ‘Oh, I really enjoy being in this space,’ even considering what’s going on in the world.”
THE LAUREN LEVANT INTERIOR DESIGN STUDIO
Using a controlled color palette but a variety of textures — including leather, stone, metals, velvets and natural wood — to add interest, Lauren Levant’s three-story studio in Shadyside reflects the style she loves to bring into clients’ homes.
“We feel inspired by originality — and we surround ourselves with it,” she says.
When it comes to workspaces, Levant says most people desire calm and order — and sometimes a bit of cheerfulness and whimsy.
For Levant, that means having a fancy Miele coffee system (she likens it to having a barista in the office) as well as cultivating an environment where the furry studio mascots — a pair of black-and-white Boston Terriers — feel welcome.
“I like to remind myself to smile often by making room for the things that make me happy. Paintings, photography, sculpture, even special pieces collected during travel,” she says. “A workspace should represent who you are and make you feel good in your surroundings.”
To cultivate a peaceful, organized space, Levant suggests minimizing anxiety-inducing clutter by grouping tall storage, as well as clear desk space, into clusters. The material library of her own office is a wall of tall bookcases, while the rest of the room is filled with open desktops.
“This keeps the eye moving through the room smoothly and feeling that there is always lots of room to work,” she says.
STUDIO B INTERIOR DESIGN
With four children and two working parents to take into consideration, interior designer Betsy Wentz, owner of Studio B in Sewickley, had to get creative with her work-from-home and homeschool spaces.
While the designer, whose love of playful color is evident throughout the home, normally keeps a desk area near the kitchen — where she says she can be productive as well as available to her family — her mod entry became a bonus workspace when she added a worktable to it.
“Try and give yourself a dedicated space to work, whether it’s a desk or a table,” she says. “You need a place devoted for work.”
Bonus points if that desk is near a window. Wentz says natural light, plus a view of the outdoors, can brighten your space — and also your mood.
“Personalize your space. Hang artwork, add a plant, a cork board wall — anything to add color and warmth,” she says.
Because home offices often don’t have a lot of space, Wentz also recommends going vertical by using floating shelves. Baskets are another great way to keep papers, books and files organized, she says.
ALISHA GWEN INTERIOR DESIGN
Designer Alisha Gwen’s studio space in Shadyside serves up inspiration daily. And while the decor — including timeless black-and-white floral curtains — is purposely classic to prevent competing hues as she dreams up color schemes for clients, she keeps things fresh by surrounding herself with things she loves, such as design books and clippings from design magazines.
“For interchangeable inspiration, I incorporated a pin-up board so I’m able to continuously switch out images and items that inspire me,” she says.
Her favorite piece is a dining table she uses as an oversized desk, which allows her to spread out her work during the creative process. For those looking to create an innovative space at home, Gwen recommends integrating beloved pieces, patterns and photos, but keep it clutter-free — and don’t over-accessorize.
“Too much stuff leaves little space for inspired thinking,” she says. “A neat and clean space, surrounded by [colors] that make you happy, will promote work efficiently.”