One of the biggest—and least-expected—trends of 2020 has been the return of the home office. It’s become one of the most desirable search terms for home listings (one architect’s gone from adding dedicated workspaces in 15 percent of his projects to a whopping 75 percent), but let’s be real: Many of us can’t dedicate an entire room to our nine-to-five. There just isn’t the square footage, so we try to cram in a work area wherever we can—the living room, the dining room, the nook between your kid’s daybed and their leaning tower of pipe cleaner crafts. Some of these spots aren’t ideal, but if you’re looking to create a home office space for the long haul, there’s one room you should absolutely avoid making multi-purpose.
Spoiler: You’re probably doing it already.
Complete spoiler: It’s your bedroom.
It’s tempting to stick a desk in your room. Even if you don’t have the luxury of working from home amid the pandemic, you might need a space to, say, file your taxes or pen that next Great American Novel. But it can also be a secret source of stress.
“I’d caution not to make that space in your bedroom—it can impede your ability to sleep and relax,” says designer and My Soulful Home host Kelly Wilkniss. Her reasoning? Those piles of papers and your laptop can trigger you as you’re going to bed, making it difficult to actually fall asleep—and oh so tempting to crack open your Macbook and tackle this one little thing…until you realize it’s 3 a.m. and you haven’t unplugged.
It’s no wonder, then, that the National Sleep Foundation reports that sleep is the first thing we give up when we’re juggling heavy workloads and irregular work schedules, particularly when that work is staring you right in the face the second you crack your eyes open.
Wilkniss suggests taking a closer look at the overlooked nooks and corners of your home. “The top of a landing of a staircase could be a great spot for a small desk, or you could carve out a space for a pedestal table and chair in your living room,” she says. You could even try a folding desk that stays out Monday through Friday, but as soon as your work day ends, you collapse it, signaling that it’s time to start your weekend.
If the bedroom’s your only option (studio dwellers, we see you), consider investing in a folding screen to separate your work and relaxation spaces. Sure, your coworkers can’t see your bed behind you, since you changed that Zoom background, but that little sense of privacy—and separation—could help you sleep better at night.