How industry insiders plan their working-from-home space

When I was at school, I viewed a desk as purely functional, a place I was told to sit and learn; I couldn’t wait to run away from it. Today, being desk-bound means freedom to me; it means a place and space for inspiration, dreams and ideas. I hate the idea of hot-desking – I’m not a roamer, I like putting down roots.

Much like the interiors of your house, the way you dress your desk speaks volumes. If a cluttered desk equals a cluttered mind, is that such a bad thing? From a cluttered mind comes great thinking – you just have to sort the wheat from the chaff.

My last office job favoured a clear-desk aesthetic, and for me it stole away personality. I’m a creative – I write, I dream up concepts and think visually. Lightbulb ideas don’t come to me with a bare bulb, they need a baroque shade with tassels (I’m not one for an Anglepoise desk lamp). 

I don’t do office knick-knacks or framed family pictures, but I do want to surround myself with visuals, samples, products and books that trigger and evolve ideas.

A productive desk for me is one filled with items that make me feel emotionally connected. Postcards I’ve picked up when travelling, a collection of perfumes (if I have a difficult call, I dab Chanel No5 on my wrists and inhale to feel empowered). 

For writer’s block, or just a roadblock in my thinking, I always reach for the book Whatever You Think Think the Opposite by the late Paul Arden. 

There’s a dish of lipsticks handy for the virtual call, piles of notebooks, beautiful paperweights and piles of picture books and magazines that fill my day with colour, should I need it. When I sit at my home desk, it doesn’t feel like a desk job, it feels like I can make anything happen, more than I could if I was slouching on the sofa.

It’s not just the desk, it’s the setting. I’m prone to tear-sheeting and have a couple of mood boards behind my desk. During numerous Zoom calls over the past couple of years, they’ve been a thread of conversation as they add colour and interest. 

It beats Farrow & Ball’s latest shade and makes for a great backdrop. I’ve sat and worked at many desks over the years, but there’s only one that feels like home – and that’s mine.

Jacqui’s top tip 

Jacqui Ripley likes to be surrounded by visual inspiration at her desk. Books and magazines are at hand, as is a bottle of Chanel No5. The desk is from John Lewis.

Penned by Jacqui Ripley


How do you make WFH work? Let us know in the comments section 

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