How to Create a Chic Home Office Out of Random Furniture


WHEN THE pandemic struck and forced so many Americans to shun office buildings and embrace the idea of WFH, many of us floundered. Our apartments and bungalows lacked home offices. Kitchen islands were drafted as muffin-crumb-strewn “desks.” Some of us retreated to our beds to curl up with a laptop in ways psychologists might have found troubling.

1960s Mid Century Modern Gerald Thurston Lightolier Lamp, $1,800, chairish.com

In many cases, however, Americans rallied, surveyed their homes, found a table here, a lamp there, some vaguely ergonomic chair and turned a corner of a bedroom, or even a garage, into a workspace. As we venture ever deeper into WFH, it’s becoming clear we need to take these ad hoc, mismatched arrangements more seriously, and even strive to make them chic. To play out this scenario—albeit in a rather glamorous way—we asked three designers how they would unify two random pieces that are clearly unintended to work together: this sleek, simple desk (above) and a rather extroverted vintage lamp (left). The secret is to add a mediating element. Here’s what they chose:

DESIGNER 1
Her solution: Lay a rug that features curves.

Los Angeles designer Kimberly Biehl chose a vintage carpet whose pattern softens the ziggurat lines of the midcentury lamp’s Devo-hat shade and nods to its quatrefoil curves. “I really love that swirl!” she said of the rug’s calligraphic detail. Ms. Biehl also noted that its subtle, blue linear element connects to the painted drawer fronts of the desk: “That little line of blue really got me.” Vintage Art Deco Deep Maroon, White and Blue Wool Rug, $9,500, dorisleslieblau.com

DESIGNER 2
Her solution: Pull up a shapely wood seat.

The chair that San Francisco designer Noz Nozawa suggested, with its unusual bulbous woodwork, could keep up with the “sculptural impact” of the graphic lamp, she said. The chair’s sensually swollen front legs read like an inverse of the diamond-and-ball geometry in the lamp base. At the same time, the chair’s “solid walnut frame reflects the desk’s natural wood.” Sara Bond Chair, Enea Fiber by Agrippa in Oiled Walnut, $3,085, coupdetatsf.com

DESIGNER 3
His solution: Add a less ‘rational’ piece of art.

To New York designer Anthony Dunning’s eyes, these two pieces are rather hard-edge and would benefit from the addition of an expressive but unifying third party—namely this “emotional,” painterly watercolor with conciliatory hues. “The colors of the desk and lamp are present in the painting, helping to marry the two pieces,” he said. Malene Barnett “Makeda” original watercolor, 22 inches by 25 inches, $2,500; Prints, from $158. malenebarnett.com

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.

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