With the beginning of a hopeful new year and home working likely to be a long-term cultural shift all over the world, it feels like a good time to get more intentional and creative with our home work spaces. With most of our team now largely working from home both in the UK and in Kenya, we’re having discussions about what rituals, adaptations or small purchases are helping us work better and work happier.
Image: @ketchuponeverything featuring LAINI striped storage basket from £16
Working from home came virtually overnight for the majority of us, and with added challenges like homeschooling, the closure of gyms, restaurants and entertainment venues and a lack of childcare, our homes have had to work extremely hard to absorb all our 'bonus' needs over this past year.
Image: @fayemoorhouse featuring Nifty Knit basket bag from £69
So what do these newly ‘multifunctional’ homes look like? Chances are, a little messy and makeshift! And whilst we can’t magic up a brand new room out of thin air for your desk, yoga mat or your children’s toys, we can suggest a basket for every category of clutter that your home might currently be buckling under – from small, colourful baskets for tidying away children’s pencils and craft materials to a stylish yet sturdy lidded basket for your home workout equipment. Because right now we need to create BOUNDARIES where there are none - for our own sense of well-being. Work life balance is unplugging your laptop and headphones and putting them out of sight (in a woven basket bag perhaps) at the end of the working day.
We’ve been talking to some of our wise friends in the worlds of interiors and horticulture, and we’ve put together a guide to making the very most of your home-working set up for the long term.
Talking of boundaries, many of us have had to reconfigure or create new space in some way – whether that’s working from your redundant spare room (because, no houseguests) or sharing your kitchen table with your partner and their laptop...and their coffee cups and sandwich crumbs!
KUZUIA Neon Pink Striped Baskets from £16
But this kind of space is more than a physical thing - it's mental, emotional space too. Ruth Sleightholme from House & Garden currently works in her front room and has struggled with 'spatial distinction' and how to mark the beginning and the end of the working day, the working week and the weekend. It's no wonder so many of us are working longer hours from home and don't know what day of the week it is anymore - we need better boundaries!
Ruth's advice? Simple, joyful rituals. “When work is done, I turn off the main light and turn on the lamps, light a scented candle, and take my work things out of sight. The gesture of opening a box and getting out your pens and notebook at the start of the day, and putting them away at the end, is really important. I even still have a 'work mug' that I don't use at the weekend. And my office things - I try to make them really enjoyable, favourite things to sweeten the pill”
Interior stylist Kyla Magrath needs a corner of clear space at her table, a window view, classical music and a scented candle on the go to ease herself out of home distractions and into work mode. Indie lifestyle shop owner and basket retailer Kim Gray told us “plants are calming and help me to feel inspired, versus feeling like I’m slogging behind a computer. A good set of baskets can go a long way in hiding office staples – and for aesthetics!”
Image: @kimgraygeneralstore featuring VIZURI Milulu Grass Striped Basket from £35
New to this whole houseplant thing? Don't panic! First of all, choose where exactly in the home you want to add a plant, or plants. Planteria Kuwait – one of our independent retailers – suggest that you check how much natural light this space gets, and pick your plant according to its light requirements. This will narrow down the search a little and make it easier to choose your first baby.
We asked another one of our independent basket retailers - Amber from Howe Farm Flowers - for some tips:
- It is better to underwater your plants than to over water them. You want the soil to be moist but not too wet.
- When watering house plants, place them in a shallow dish of water to let them soak up the moisture from the bottom. For bulbs, drizzle water lightly over the top to keep the soil moist. Once a week should be plenty.
- Don’t forget to feed your houseplants. As they grow, they use up all the goodness given to them by the compost they are planted in. Feed them every six to eight weeks for best results.
- Give your houseplants fresh compost every 12 months; if the roots are looking root bound, move them to a bigger pot and planter - and watch your plant grow!
- Once your bulbs have finished flowering inside, plant them in the garden so they can bloom again for you again next Spring.
- If you have underfloor heating be sure not to place any houseplants directly on the floor - prop them up on a stool or base to avoid overheating them.
Chances are, you’re going to be looking at these walls more than you ever have done before – so give yourself something inspiring and joyful to look at while you work and play. You deserve it! “Gallery walls have been big news over the last few years,” says Interior Designer Dee Campling.
Image: @deecampling featuring LAINI charcoal striped woven basket from £16
“The explosion of affordable art print companies on Instagram means that there has never been more art to choose from and with a gallery wall you can mix up all of your fabulous choices into one big display.”
We LOVE @_lisa_dawson_'s take on a gallery wall
Whether your home style is bold and eclectic, retro, mid-century modern or scandi minimal, there’s a gallery wall technique that will work with your aesthetic. You can read Dee’s blog post on curating your own gallery wall here.
Handwoven Zambian Wall Baskets from £27
Now OUR kind of gallery wall involves – you guessed it - wall baskets. A gaggle of different sizes and patterns or just one or two large winnowing baskets hung together – wall baskets bring texture and character to uninspiring corners and blank spaces. Once you’ve chosen your wall baskets, all that’s left to decide is whether you or your colleagues on Zoom get to enjoy that gorgeous view…
KIMBIA Black Spotted Beaded Basket £20
Stay tuned on social media for more discussions on stylish and practical home working setups and houseplant care. Ready to transform your space? Shop the HOME OFFICE collection here.