All nonessential professionals are being ordered to work from home throughout many U.S. cities in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In our community, designers have had to pull together a work-from-home solution or retreat to their home offices—which are often, as expected, thoughtfully designed—and conduct business remotely. AD PRO asked 10 designers for their creative solutions to making it work, and the responses are inspiring.
Ginny Macdonald, Ginny Macdonald Design
“I love to have a routine and try to separate work and home life as much as one can do when running their own business. It was around this time last year that I moved from my dining table to an actual studio in downtown Los Angeles. So while working from home is not new to me—and I can focus pretty much wherever I work—it’s challenging because I don’t have all our materials samples on hand and can’t really close the door on things at the end of the day. I’m also someone that can’t sit still, always has to be on the go and not be confined for too long. It helps that I have dogs that need walking, so that gets me out of the house a few times a day without feeling guilty.”
Jodie Fried, of Armadillo & Co.
“With teams around the world in different time zones, we’re more accustomed than most to telecommuting. But it’s a whole different ball game when schools are closed and my three young kids are at home too!
“My advice is to plan the day and be fully present in whatever activity you are currently doing. Schedule your own office hours with frequent breaks, and establish a routine for the kids that replicates a normal school day. I’ve been getting the bulk of my work done during their lunch hour, designated screen time, or after they’ve gone to bed. Then, when I’m with the kids, they get my undivided attention. It goes against my natural instincts to multitask, but working smarter, not harder, is the best way to stay productive and sane.”
Janice Barta, Barta Interiors
“Working from home has been challenging with a full house. I’ve set up two stations—one in my actual office and another one in our main living/dining space—in an effort to help my son with schoolwork and to give my husband a space to concentrate on his own work; he has his work station set up at my design associate’s desk. I’m working between both work areas, depending on if I need materials or if I’m focusing on architectural drawing. My designers are working remotely from home, and we have conference calls daily. I had my first video conferencing call with a client yesterday to discuss color palettes and to show them some ideas so far. It’s definitely been a challenge, but we are adapting and persevering.”
Paloma Contreras, Paloma Contreras Design
“I typically travel quite often, whether it’s to visit clients in cities other than my own, or for events and speaking engagements to promote my book Dream Design Live. As such, my team has always been set u
p to work remotely. We use Monday.com to help us track and manage projects. We use Studio Designer for our proposals, invoices, purchase orders, and accounting, as well as an external Cloud system that allows us to share files when we are apart.
“Since we have been set up with the option to work from anywhere for several years, we are fortunate that our current state of affairs has not disrupted our ability to take care of our clients and keep our projects moving forward. We worked out of an office in my home, pictured here, up until a couple of years ago, so I am lucky to have a dedicated space in which to work from home that is very similar to the setup in our studio. As long as I have access to our remote files, my laptop, printer, and my dog Tate by my side, I have all that I need in order to be productive!”
Marie Flanigan, Marie Flanigan Interiors
“I love creating zones to establish some mental division between work and play. We are accustomed to visual cues that signal us that it’s time for a certain task, like leaving the house to go to your office, or taking the kids to a playground to burn off some energy. These cues are very powerful and can be used within our homes as well. Look for a quiet corner in your house that’s away from your usual day-to-day activities, like cooking or laundry. Set up a little office there so your brain knows when you sit down, it’s time to work. The same thing can also apply to your children. Instead of having toys scattered throughout your home, create a spot in your home to set up a craft, or better yet, build your own obstacle course outside that feels novel and new to your little ones.”
Glenn Lawson, Lawson-Fenning
“My work setup has been a dream. We have been doing jigsaw puzzles at night, which turns into my morning conference table. I have been puzzling while taking stressful calls. It helps calm things down. In the afternoons I have been finding that my living room and deck are the perfect spot to work. All I need is my phone and computer. I can have a fire when it’s chilly, and a hammock when it’s not.”
Laura Umansky, Laura U Interior Design
“Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our team, our clients, our families, and friends. As we all await the go-ahead to resume life as normal, we’ve been handling all daily operations remotely, with our entire team working from home. We use BaseCamp, which is our project management tool. I host an all-hands meeting first thing in the morning. At 9 a.m. each day we turn on our webcams, share a cup of coffee together, and talk about our priorities for the day. Then, it’s off to work! If we need to connect with one another we do it through our project management tools. We’re even handling client meetings remotely. And so far, it’s been smooth sailing.”
Linda Eyles, Linda Eyles Design
“Well, I’m one of the very lucky ones—since my home and office are separate buildings on the same property, in a lot of ways, I work from home every day. The office is a lot more quiet these days with the staff working from their own homes or coming in shifts, but I have a wonderful place to keep on designing!”
Austin Handler, Mabley Handler Interior Design
“When we [Handler and wife/business partner Jennifer Mabley] moved out to the Hamptons almost 20 years ago, we specifically looked for a house that had a secondary structure on the property that we could use as our design studio.… We started a family shortly after we moved out here, so our idea from the start was to have a work space that allowed us to pop in and out of the house if the kids were sick, but also zip over to the studio in the evening/on the weekend if we had to work on something and send to a client right away. Our little homestead plan has served us well over the last 18 or so years, but little did we know how well it would set us up for this new territory that we find ourselves in now!
“We can continue to work in our studio as our kids prepare to convert to online classes over at the house. We can check in whenever we want, have lunch together, give the dogs a quick walk, and then head back to work. Of course, we’re obsessively cleaning surfaces and washing hands and following safety protocols as best we can, but with two boys, three cats, and four dogs all living under our roof, we seem to be constantly cleaning anyway! But without ever knowing that we would someday have to plan for something like sheltering in place from a pandemic, we ended up creating a scenario where our work and home life now are as good as it can be, under the circumstances.… Until we run out of toilet paper.”
Keia McSwain, Kimberly and Cameron Interiors
“All the introverted creatives are jumping for joy at this opportunity while they bite their nails in anticipation for this nightmare to be over. I’m encouraging my Black Interior Designers Network members and clients to consider e-design and all it has to offer at this uncomfortable moment in time. With the downward shift in our economy and community, there’s a great deal of people who will be working from home.… As reality sets in, many designers are asking ourselves if the ideal client still exists. At this time I think an ideal client for a luxury business is any client willing to work with us. We will get through this together and come out stronger!”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest