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A comfortable chair and effective task lighting are crucial to keeping upright while working at makeshift home offices.shironosov/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

These days, many of us are working in spaces not meant to be dedicated home offices, whether it’s a kitchen island or dining table. Though it’s tempting to dismiss propriety and take to one’s bed with a laptop, I worry productivity would follow suit.

In the interest of remaining upright for at least part of the day, ensure you’ve got a comfortable chair (no shoulder-scrunching) and decent task lighting (no squinting). If you’re looking to boost your daytime mood but can’t sit near a window, consider a light therapy lamp used for treating seasonal affective disorder – most are sleek and unobtrusive, and won’t take up much real estate on your desk, whether it’s permanent or makeshift.

A couple of other stylish work from home self-care suggestions: Stay hydrated with a jug or carafe of water within eyeshot to act as a visual reminder and grab (or get) some noise-cancelling headphones to help concentrate when kids or pets contend for your attention.

Avoid clutter at all costs. Now’s the time to nerd out with some new stationery supplies if you’re into that kind of thing (guilty!). Treat yourself to some lovely notepads, pens and file folders – there’s a whole world of decorative options online from retailers such as Muji, Mark + Fold and Rifle Paper Co.

While you’re waiting for those supplies to arrive, shop your own home. One of my favourite design firms, Carrier and Company (who count the likes of Jessica Chastain and Anna Wintour among their A-list clients), recently posted a beauty shot on Instagram that felt fresh and spring-like. They gathered vessels in shades of emerald and grass green – some to hold paper clips, some to hold pens – and created a pretty desktop vignette. Look around your rooms and repurpose things such as vases, jars, boxes and small bowls with an eye to what’ll look good together in a grouping.

Think about your view and, frankly, the view behind you in case colleagues get a direct sightline into your space during video calls and meetings. I’ve heard some cringe-inducing stories on this topic lately; just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean your professionalism should take a nap. Fill up a bulletin board with inspiring pictures from magazines – travel, gardens, pools, decorating, food – or lean some framed pictures on a console table or buffet. Maybe reposition a plant in the background, too. Finally, your home office is starting to work for you.

Need some advice about interior design and decor? Send your questions to

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