Chloe Bullock @materialiseint
So for many of us home is our place of work as well for a while. How are you feeling about it? Is it something you’d like to keep doing? Recent research shows we are more productive at home – so it really could become permanent for some. I’ve worked from home for nearly 15 years and I’m an interior designer – so I’d love to help you make that a better experience for you.
When things are out of our control like they are now for some of us now – it’s good for our wellbeing to sort the things we can control. I get inspired when I can think clearly. So clutter around me and in my head is no good. Try and switch to paperless as quickly as you can. Find non-officey ways to store your work things and reclaim some home storage for work things so you don’t have to look at them in your evenings and weekends.
Having a home detox
by having a clear out and living more minimally will make you feel freer and so much better. It’s not for everyone – but really works for me so I can’t help recommending it. There’s so many charities who’ll appreciate your old furniture and furnishings. Charities like the British Heart Foundation will collect resellable items. Please never cut the fire label off sofas, chairs and mattresses. Without it – it can’t be resold by reselling organisations. Resist doing it! Yearly UK homes throw away 1.6 million tonnes of bulky waste. If you combine the percentages for furniture and bulk textiles (such as mattresses) it’s over 60%! A huge 51% of this is either instantly reusable or reusable with a slight repair. While we’re on the subject of repairing, why don’t you repair that item you’ve been meaning to fix or ages?! For me that’s such a feelgood moment – bringing something back to life and diverting it from landfill. Nothing needs to go to landfill. Local dogs homes will welcome old towels. If things really can’t find homes – take them to be recycled at your recycling centre.
Review before buying new,
review things already in your home, and even friends or family member’s homes! Use Freecycle/Freegle. Try and reuse. Do your family and friends have friend have items they don’t use or need? Make use of Freegle, Freecycle, BOOT FAIRS and street treasure! It adds those stories you can tell and is so much more enjoyable than shopping. Old furniture was built to last. It’s lasted ‘til now and will last longer than that flatpack. If painting it means you will love it more and extend it’s life – then do it. Just check it’s not a family treasure or an antique first though! A collected look is so much nicer than buying everything together. Old and new DO mix.
It’s possible to do without everything looking woolly and recycled! Upcycle things yourself. Repurpose things in clever ways. It adds fun and it’s really satisfying to do and you end up with something original! We upcycled old skate decks kindly collected by Level Skateboards for a client’s project.
Look for recycled content — PET bedding, recycled mattress mattresses! Paint, flooring, rugs, bedding, fabric. Our duvet is made from recycled PET bottles and the mattress is made from (clean!) recycled mattresses! I’ve used lots of recycled content elements for my clients – from ghost fishing net carpet to tables made from recycled glass collected in Brighton.
Set up Ebay alerts for things for your home you are looking out for. It’s so much nicer to collect lovely items to furnish than buy new things and do it too quickly and waste resources and money. Surround yourself with things you love, that you have collected and have good memories connected to them. These stories add character and another dimension to your spaces. A collected look is so much more interesting looking. unique and full of personality.
These colours of the year can be lovely inspiration, but don’t use a colour at home just because it’s a ‘trend’. If you don’t connect to a colour you will be painting it again for you know it. There’s lots of science behind colours and how they make us feel. So use the colours that make you feel good in your home. Don’t be afraid to let colour in if it bring you joy! Try some clashing colours – use pattern or reduce the scale and expanse of the amount you use to dilute the strength down. Think about the functions of the rooms you are updating. You might want something more calmer and soothing in your bedroom. Obviously check with your landlord if you are renting. Don’t be precious. Experiment. You can always repaint. While we’re on the subject of paint – be aware that some paint still has animal tested ingredients. So ask questions before you buy. Animal bristle brushes and wool roller sleeves are still available on the market. Can you borrow brushes from someone rather than buying new?
How is your workspace?
I hope you have settled into a routine that works for you and you are able to work comfortably. I’m HOPING at the least you have a table and chair set up for your workspace. I’ve seen allsorts on social media. Hammocks used as chairs, ironing boards used at desks, people having to sit on their bed. If you’re working on any of those you pretty urgently need a better set up. That can’t go on for days!
Working on a dining table is better – even though they are higher than desks. Use cushions to raise yourself higher if needed or behind you to support your lumbar. Vary your working position. Can you stand for some reading tasks – perhaps at the kitchen counter?
Try and position yourself so you can see out of the window…
hopefully it gives you the feeling of space and there’s some greenery to look at. It will do you good! Biophilia – meaning a connection to nature that humans crave – is hugely beneficial to us. The feeling of space beyond will help you feel less confined as well! If you’re working in a multi-functional room – can you section an area to create some privacy and sound improvement? A freestanding open backed bookcase makes a really good room divider. Dot some pot plants around it to get plants near you. Snake plants and peace lillies are great for air purifying. Some plants are good in bedrooms and clean the air at night while you sleep – by providing fresh oxygen, so get advice on whether they are daytime or night time.
(which includes natural textures stones, timber as well as plants) and access to nature reduces blood pressure, depression and anxiety; increased attention capacity; speeds up healing times; increased psychological well-being; and increased pain tolerance. Plants are very worth integrating into your home. Even the act of caring for a plant is good for us!
How is the lighting? … try to maximise daylight and use supplementary local task lighting if needed.
A pendant in the centre of the room just casts your work area in your shadow so don’t bother using it if that’s the case.
Have you got some lamps already at home you could use rather than buying new?
I want you to maximise your exposure to daylight – especially in the morning to help your circadian rhythm (your sleep/wake cycle).
Chloe Bullock is a BIID Registered Interior Designer® at the British Institute of Interior Design – the pre-eminent professional organisation for interior designers in the UK. She creates animal-friendly, human-friendly and planet-friendly interiors for homes and for entrepreneurs.
Chloe supports both entrepreneurs and home owners – designing with a focus on health, cruelty free, sustainability. She is a FitWel® Ambassador and keen follower of human-centric, healthy design – using standards such as WELL building standard, Building Biology as well as FitWel® to ensure spaces are healthy for the users.
Prior to setting up her own company over 14 years ago, she was part of The Body Shop team delivering ethical global store concepts and specifications. Her ongoing commitment to environmental awareness, sustainability using circular economy principles and cruelty-free specifications learnt at The Body Shop, has translated into her own interior design business. She was the first interior designer in the UK to be VEGANDESIGN.ORG CERTIFIED™. She has recently become a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.