Work of Art, Stylist, 16 November 2016

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All copy as provided to the publication.

More than 1.52 million of us now work from home, up by 19% from a decade ago. It can’t be a coincidence that more women than ever before are in employment – the flexibility that home working affords us, and the hours reclaimed from the daily commute surely contribute to the fact that 69.2% are now in employment – the highest level since records began in 1971. Although men still account for the majority of home-workers (912,000 regularly work from home compared to 609,000 women), it’s women who are driving the growth in the trend, with 35% more women working from home in 2015 than in 2005. And despite the fears of some employers, we’re not sitting around in our PJs – in fact Stanford economics professor Nicholas Bloom has found that homeworkers are 13% more productive than those who travel into offices every day. And it’s not just existing businesses that benefit. “70 per cent of new businesses in the UK start at home,” says Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, which has got to be a good thing for the economy. But let’s be honest, we’re not eschewing the rush hour, cubicle desks and office politics for the sake of our employers or the economy – working from home works for us, and having the freedom to design our own space is a crucial part of that. “Having control over your workspace can improve comfort and your ability to get work done, and reduce stress,” says a report by office chair manufacturer Herman Miller. “This, in turn, can lead to greater productivity and better health.” So it’s no surprise that many people are turning to increasingly popular interiors blogs and image-sharing sites such Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration to make their spaces their own. We’ve gathered up the best of the web – and asked industry experts to spill the beans on the coolest interiors trends for your home office.

Getting in the mood

Mood boards can be an incredibly powerful way to visualise anything from a project you’re working on, to your goals for the year. We asked interior stylist, designer and TV presenter, Sophie Robinson (sophierobinson.co.uk) to share her top five tips on creating a mood board wall in your home office.

I can’t tell you how powerful having images displayed in your space can be for inspiration and motivation. Here are my five tips for making a great display:

1.    In my job, mood boards are essential. I wouldn’t dream of tackling a room design without fleshing it out on a mood board first, starting with conceptual, inspirational images from fashion and colour to architecture and patterns and then moving to paint chips, fabric samples and images of furniture, light fittings and accessories as the design develops. This way I am confident the room look cohesive before I make any purchases.

2.    If you don’t have a creative job, you might be wondering how mood boards can work for you. I’m a massive fan of ‘vision boards’. These comprise images that inspire or motivate you. Stick up pictures of your dream house, your holiday wish list, the perfect yoga pose, or anything you’d like to work towards in your life. The uncanny secret is, they actually work!

3.    Mood boards should be fluid so you can add and subtract images at will. I use washi tape, in lots of different designs and patterns, to quickly pull together each one. Trim your pictures, so you can overlap them.

4.    Use a strong painted wall as a background, so the images really pop. Use a scrub-able matt emulsion or vinyl silk, so your mood board won’t ruin the paintwork.

5.    Narrow-width picture shelves are a great way to make an ever-changing display. You can rest framed pictures, a selection of mood boards mounted on foam board, or even small three-dimensional objects on the shelves. Or curate a gallery wall of framed pictures, mixing different frames with an eclectic selection of images linked by a theme or colour. I use picture-hanging strips to avoid too many nails in the wall, and so I can move them around.

Say it in lights

As home offices become more personalised, many of us want to literally see our name in lights – metal light-bulb letters and neon lights are a creative way to personalise a space with either your own name, an inspirational image, or words of wisdom from a friend.

We all stare into space when we’re thinking, so why not stare at something that might prompt clever thoughts instead? “Bold statements can lift your spirits in an office environment, especially an uplifting slogan or personal reference that strengthens your sense of who you are – giving you the strength to face your overflowing inbox,” say interior designer duo the 2 Lovely Gays (2lovelygays.com). Create your own signs using alphabet kits, or commission bespoke lights from Kemp London, who have been making signs in 1868, making them London’s oldest sign-making company. Whatever you do, make sure you follow these five top tips on making the trend work in your office:

1.    “Neon letters are great fun,” says Louise Wicksteed, creative partner, 1508 London. “Spell your initials above your desk, or choose some inspirational words to help you focus.”

2.    “Symbols and images such as a thunderbolt or a cloud work well too,” adds co-founder of Jackdaw Studio (jackdawstudio.com), Pippa Roberts. “But keep it simple. The more complicated the design, the more it will cost – outlines can work really well.”

3.    “Think about which colours will work with your space as there's a huge range available,” says Sally Bendelow, creative product director, notonthehighstreet.com “Bright pink looks great in a space filled with vibrant green plants, or fresh white works in a minimal, pared-back scheme.”

4.    “If you’re using letters, choose your font carefully to contrast or compliment your message and play with script or boldness to see which one conveys your message best,” adds Pippa. “If in doubt, go bigger.”

5.    A final word on installation: “Mount your design onto an aluminium tray,” Pippa advises. “The tray can be painted to match the wall and will hide the transformer and wires. Plus, if you relocate, it will be easy to remove. Always use a qualified electrician for installation.”

Green fingers

Plants in office spaces have been shown to increase not only productivity, but also happiness1 – something both Sheffield-based photographers Magnus and India Hobson (haarkon.co.uk), and founders of The Future Kept (thefuturekept.com), Jeska and Dean Hearne, can attest to. 

“Plants bring an element of life to our desk and provide us with a sense of companionship,” says India Hobson. ‘We can watch them grow and change daily – they bring something to our tables that an inanimate object just couldn't.” Jeska echoes the importance of botanicals in a working environment. “It is vital to take short inspiration breaks throughout your working day, surrounded by nature and the beauty of the natural world,” she says. “Creating an indoor work space filled with plants allows us to soak up all the positive energy they create, creating a sense of calm and leaving us feeling ready for whatever the rest of the day might bring.” Luckily you don’t have to be particularly green-fingered to make this trend work for your home office – just subscribe to Geo Fleur’s (geo-fleur.com) Plant Post Club and they’ll send you a plant or plant-related accessory in the post every month. Geo Fleur founder Sophie Lee shares her top tips for incorporating some greenery into your space: 

1.    Choose air-purifying plants, such as a peace lily or Boston fern, and place them next to computers and other electronic equipment to remove toxins from the air.

2.    Choose low maintenance plants that can withstand neglect if you have a busy job that’s likely to take priority over looking after them. Sanseviera is a great plant as it's so hardy. Cacti thrive on being ignored too – just water them with a mister once a fortnight and place them near bright light. 

3.    Most houseplants should be misted weekly – set a calendar reminder so you don’t forget. The biggest killer of houseplants is overwatering though, so don't pour water in to the top of the plant pot as this panics the plant, sends it in to overdrive and turns it to mush.  

4.    All plants need good natural light, but few will survive strong midday sun, so position them in a bright but sheltered part of your office. 

5.    Choose a plant that produces lots of offshoots such as Pilea Peperomides – you can give its babies as gifts to your clients and suppliers when they come to visit.

Spare your blushes

Softer natural colours are taking over from hard industrial interiors in offices, creating spaces where people feel at home, relaxed, and happy – which makes them more collaborative and productive. Combine rose quartz – one Pantone’s two colours of 2016 – with the warm metallic trend we’ve inherited from Scandinavia, and you’ve got a recipe for success in your home office. Emma Morley, founder and creative director of interior design agency Trifle (triflecreative.com), shares her tips on how to make it work.

When this lovely colour hit the scene a few years ago, we predicted ongevity and we have been delighted to see we were not wrong, especially when it comes to work spaces. Here are my top five tips for making dusty pinks and warm metallics work in your home office:

1.    See soft pink as a warm neutral rather than as a 'scary accent colour'. It is versatile and very easy to use and works well in contemporary schemes as well as more traditional settings. 

2.    Start by painting a small wall – remember it’s always easier to add more than to take it away. Although the best thing about painting is that it can quickly be undone if you really don't like it.

3.    Then introduce some accessories in warm metallic materials like copper to add a bit of sparkle – the options are endless, especially with stationery. 

4.    If you want more impact, Kangan Arora’s Patang rug for Floorstory uses this palette brilliantly and also shows how well it goes with other colours.

5.    Finally, don't go overboard – remember, you're not Barbie!

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