5 things that instantly upgrade a home office, according to a designer

May 20 2020, 10:03 am

By now, we’re all accustomed to our new routines at home. Perhaps your day starts with an online yoga class, bringing your dog out for a walk, or sipping your morning coffee on the balcony.

Whatever the case may be, this sets the tone for your workday. And sitting down at an untidy and messy desk can undo the relaxing vibe you’re trying to achieve. Put simply, clutter can result in stress for our physical and mental well-being.

So, how can we create a WFH space that epitomizes functionality and style without spending a fortune? We asked Anahit Loū to find out. She’s a design instructor at LaSalle College Vancouver and the owner and creative director at Anahit Lou Studio.

The interior design expert shared her top five tips for revamping your home office space, and they apply whether you live in a studio apartment or a townhouse.

Maximize natural light

Like many designers, Loū admits that she is captivated by the possibilities of daylight in a space. “The first thing I notice is the layout, how the windows are looking, and the daylight. It’s always interesting to see what time of the day you get the most natural light,” she says.

Many of us are spending a lot of time behind a screen for work, and it can be challenging to find the best home office space that allows light to flood in. Loū says it helps to decide where you’re going to sit in your space, where to have your tea, or where to start reading a book — carve out spots for each activity. “Even if you have a very small place, natural light and windows can inspire you to do your work in the day.”

Declutter and organize

Anahit Loū’s office/LaSalle College Vancouver

One of the most effective ways to transform your home office space is to organize and declutter it. “We’re all kind of now limited to our rooms or basically behind our desks, and we cannot go out,” says Loū. “We can try to make our workspace as tidy as possible, and keep it organized.”

The designer says she often thinks of a concept from one of her favourite graphic designers, Kenya Hara, who is also the art director at MUJI. “He has this concept of emptiness that gives you more space for imagination. In Japanese culture, emptiness tells you that if you leave some space for imagination, you’ll be a happier person.”

Loū says you can start by having an organized desktop on your screen, or by organizing your closet or kitchen cupboards. This way, you’ll save more time when looking for things.

Explore different themes

When it comes to designing a space, Loū says it’s different for everyone and depends on your experiences, culture, and where you grew up. “Most of us, for the generation we grew up in, are interested in minimal design or mid-century design.”

Today, Loū says design influences can be a combination of minimal and Scandinavian design, with elements of mid-century. “People are really into neutral colours and how they go together; white, beige, very light dusty pinks, greys, and blacks.” She suggests starting with colour schemes when restyling your space.

“At LaSalle College Vancouver, when we start a new project, we do a lot of mood boarding and put all of our inspirations together. The first two design principles are the colour, the texture, and how they go together.”

Get creative and hands-on

Anahit Loū’s office/LaSalle College Vancouver

There’s no shortage of DIY tips and tricks you can try for your home workspace. “It helps to play around with your space,” says Loū. You can style your interior with frames held up by double-sided tape and move them onto a different wall if you’re tired of seeing them in one spot.

If you’ve got a bookshelf, the designer says organizing books by the colour of their cover can help keep your space a bit more tidy.

To avoid having to hang wallpaper or completely paint your space, you can draw geometric shapes on the wall. “All you need is a ruler and a pencil,” says Loū. “You can draw the shapes and then use tape around them, adding colour to create your own modern and minimal wall art.”

Loū practices what she teaches, too. “I had a chair that was almost 120 years old that I wanted to sell, but I couldn’t get an antique certificate for it,” she says. “It has a green and gold colour but now my room is white, so I covered it with a light sheet I had from IKEA.”

Look to multiple sources for inspiration

Designing your WFH space allows you to combine residential design, lighting, and commercial design. If you enjoy the challenge, you can take it one step further and turn your passion into a career by taking a Bachelor of Applied Design in Interior Design or a Diploma in Interior Design at LaSalle College Vancouver.

Although Pinterest is a helpful source, Loū says she asks her students to refrain from using it too much. Instead, she recommends consulting books and blogs led by architects and designers.

“The programs that we have right now are very advanced compared to what you can learn from any platform,” says Loū. “What we cover in the Interior Design program is more related to interior architecture.”

Each program starts with a design concept, and for more advanced options, students are asked to do their research projects on a specific neighbourhood or region to understand local policies and history.

Students are trained in graphic design-based modules, gaining experience in everything from design conceptualization to project branding and project management. This means that by the time you graduate, you’ll be equipped with the skills to work at an iconic design house or even start your own interior design company.


If you’re interested in following your passion for design, visit LaSalle College Vancouver now or check out the Interior Design School’s virtual open house on Saturday, June 6.

This content was created by Hive Labs in partnership with a client