Here in the 21st century, office work doesn’t always actually mean working in an office building separate from your home. Indeed, the internet age has awarded many of us with the ability to work regardless of the setting, and many companies are now allowing for flexible schedules with a mix of in-office and at-home work or even fully-remote positions. Here, we’ve got a guide to getting your desktop looking great so you can work from home in style.
It’s more important than ever to ensure that, when you are working from home, you are able to do so in a way that’s comfortable, productive, and allows you to incorporate your own sense of style. After all, this is your home, and you get to decide what your workspace looks like.
Even if you do travel to a separate office space for the entirety of your job, it is still useful to have a well-appointed home office. You could use it for things like online shopping, booking vacations, answering correspondence, financial planning, and more.
So, today, we’ll look at how you can get the most out of your desktop workspace, primarily from a design perspective.
Work From Home Essentials
Before we start decorating your desk with stylish accessories, let’s run through a quick checklist to make sure that you’ve got the essentials covered.
1. A Good, Sturdy Sesk & A Comfortable Chair
Of course, the first item you’ll need is a good, sturdy desk. Okay, okay. It may seem obvious, but a desk that you are comfortable sitting at and that, houses everything you need is going to be the backbone of your working environment. After all, it really isn’t ideal to be balancing your coffee cup on your knees or to take the term “laptop” literally for all of the working day.
So, if you’d like some inspiration when it comes to desks, you can take a look at some of our favorites in a separate guide. And along those same lines, you’ll obviously want a trusty chair, and we’ve got you covered there, too.
Desk Chair Guide – Why & How To Buy An Office Chair
2. Reliable Hardware
Once you’ve got your desk and chair sorted out, reliable hardware is next on the list. Whether you choose a laptop, desktop, tablet, or even just a smartphone, some electronic assistance that you can count on is essential for a 21st-century work environment.
3. Stable internet connection
With this device, though, comes the need for stable internet. Because, after all, no one wants to be the one on the Zoom call with a spotty connection. On that note, then, for video conferencing in particular, but for all other work generally as well, we strongly encourage you to consider a wired internet connection.
As an example, one of our scriptwriters has his office wired via ethernet cable, and he says that, to him, it’s made a world of difference when working. If you’re not hardwired, at least make sure that you’re relatively close to your router so that your connection can remain as strong as possible.
4. Good light source
With video conferencing in mind, a good light source is essential, too. Remember, your colleagues are video conferencing to see you, not an anonymous silhouette. It also bears mentioning that you need to be able to see what you’re working on and potentially counteract any damaging effects from artificial light sources.
Designing Your Workspace
With that list of essentials squared away, let’s get on to the business of talking about how to transform your workspace from a mere pedestal of practicality to a sanctum of style.
If you’ve already enjoyed the previous videos in this “Interior Design” series, then you’ll know that there are many different movements within the world of decor. Ergo, it’s a good idea to have your desktop items harmonize not only with the desk itself, but also with the decor elements of the larger room.
We’ve created two lists in today’s guide- for those of you who enjoy a more traditional aesthetic and for those who like a more modern take on things. And even if you are not quite sure yet which design aesthetic is right for you, know that everything is at home under the larger umbrella of classic style.
Classic Desk Design & Accessories
So, if you love items that have an analog feel to them, then our first list for classic desktop design accessories is the one for you. And while it would be fun to include things like typewriters or oil lamps in this list, we’re strictly considering the practicalities of modern, everyday working.
After all, physical correspondence is wonderful, but your co-workers are probably going to prefer a direct response to their email rather than a typed note in the physical mail. Of course, if you do want to incorporate more deliberately old-fashioned touches, we won’t stop you.
1. Banker’s Lamp
Kicking off the list proper, we’ll revisit our previous note about lighting choices with the classic Banker’s Lamp. Surging in popularity during the 1930s, these lamps were originally designed to provide a good amount of light while working, while also shielding the user’s eyes from overly bright light bulbs.
Originally bearing a straight boom between the stand and the shade, they would later come to involve a curved design. Still, either variation should look great on your desk today. Typically featuring a chain pull to turn the light on and off, the Banker’s Lamp is also somewhat adjustable, meaning you can angle the light source for the best results. There are many vintage and antique examples for sale, but for around $40 to $50, you can also find reproduction models that look quite nice.
This, by the way, is great if you like the style, but you don’t want to deal with 1930s wiring. And that’s how we know Raphael’s at his desk for the day.
2. Fountain Pen
Up next is a collection of items that won’t come as any surprise if you’ve watched our videos about handwriting, as we believe no desk is truly complete without some quality writing equipment.
You never know when your physical signature is going to be needed on an important document or perhaps you just need to jot down a few notes. And there’s always the crossword in the paper to deal with as well. So, while you can learn more in our dedicated videos about pens, know that a high-quality pen is of utmost importance here, with our favorite overall design being the fountain pen.
3. Pen Tray & Inkwell
A pen tray would be another option to consider as it allows you to rest your writing instrument between uses and also keep a second or third option handy. If you’ve chosen a model of fountain pen, such as a Montblanc, then an inkwell would be a good addition also. Indeed, decorative inkwells can be found for very reasonable prices on the vintage market, and some of them will even feature an inbuilt pen tray for a two-for-one deal.
And by the way, if you find yourself having the occasional ink decanting accident, we’ve created the perfect guide for getting those stains out of just about anything.
The RIGHT Ways to Remove Ink Stains from Clothes & Fabric
4. Desktop Pen Set
If you’re particularly sold on the idea of a Banker’s Lamp, then you might also be interested in a desktop pen set. Although the style has been cheapened somewhat over the decades by mass-produced plastic models, a high-quality set is still a stylish and functional accessory for your desktop, and it should erase the worry of where you last left your favorite fountain pen. These styles can be a bit trickier to find in good condition for a fair price, but they are well worth the reward of that look.
5. Fine Stationery
No matter how many writing instruments you choose for your desk, though, you’re also going to need some fine stationery to accompany them. Whether you opt for a personalized letterhead or just to keep things simple and clean, a set of paper, note cards, and envelopes should cover all your bases.
This is one area where investing a bit more money really pays off, as the recipients of your written words will appreciate them all the more if they’re on fine stationery. And hey, anybody can steal a pack of flimsy printer paper from the office supply cupboard, right?
6. Leather Desk Mat
A leather desk mat provides a sublime surface to pen your correspondence while simultaneously protecting the surface of your desk. Usually a large piece of leather with a hard board backing, it also often comes with blotting paper to ensure no errant ink drops on your valued correspondence.
7. Paper Tray
And with our collection of writing essentials squared off, we now come to the paper tray as an accessory in its own right. While we all contend with our email inboxes and outboxes on a daily basis, the physical versions of these things can still serve a good purpose.
Even in the digital age, paper mail is still around, and a paper tray can help to organize anything from letters to doctor’s notes to Christmas cards; and whether you choose a single or multi-level design, there are many options available to you on both the new and vintage markets.
8. Letter Opener
On the topic of unopened correspondence, we’ll take a moment to mention the humble letter opener. A blunted blade used to open mail without potentially harming the contents or your hands, letter openers can be found for anything from a few bucks to many thousands of dollars. Of course, particularly expensive pieces are more likely than not to be collector’s items, so maybe think twice before challenging your mail to a duel.
9. Desktop Calendars & Desk Clocks
Next, desktop calendars and desk clocks may seem unnecessary in the 21st century as there’s usually a way to find this information on the screen you’re working on. However, there’s no denying the classic elegance of adorning your desk with a well-designed clock or calendar. They’ll keep you more productive or at least tell you when it’s time for lunch.
Of these two items, it might be a bit trickier to find a desk calendar that fits into a classic aesthetic, but with enough searching, you should be able to find both of these items on the vintage market.
10. Rotary Telephone
Up next is another wonderfully, low-tech item – the old-style telephone. The allure of a smartphone and its many apps and capabilities can be distracting during the work day. Still, you’ll want to be available for calls, so why not do so using a rotary phone or stylish touchpad model?
Many examples on the market might be vintage, but there are plenty of new options out there as well. And yes, you can keep your smartphone nearby for text messages, but stay away from those games.
11. Something Decorative
And as a final entry here, before we move on to our second list of more modern items, why not consider something decorative for your desk?
Think of things like a bust, statuette, or large framed photograph as examples. This item should be something that brings joy to you, elevating your workspace and making it more fun to spend your time there over the course of the day.
Modern Desk Design & Accessories
Moving on to our next list, let’s now look at a slightly more modern version of working from home in style. These items are a bit closer to mid-century modern design, but are certainly no less classic. In other words, think Mad Men with a bit of 21st-century relevance.
Overall, for the more modern look, you’ll want to consider a “less is more” aesthetic with a focus on clean, simple lines and uncluttered spaces. All of which can be helpful for getting things done.
1. Semikolon Desk Organizers
First, we’ll shout out items from a particular brand. This post isn’t sponsored, but we can recommend this brand based on use by members of the Gentleman’s Gazette team. Founded in 1988, the German brand Semikolon produces organizers and accessories that are both modern in design and classic in use.
Featuring a signature off-white border against block color backgrounds, the entire range is influenced by the design aesthetics of the 1950s and 60s, which is great if you prefer a fresher look for your items. Naturally, there are many other brands out there with similar aesthetics, but Semikolon provides a good brand to start with, and then you can venture out from there.
2. Moleskine or Leuchtturm Notebook
For example, other good choices for a modern office would include notebooks from brands like Moleskine or Leuchtturm. Whether you need to jot down some ideas or take notes for a meeting, a notebook can still be an invaluable tool, and the simplistic designs from these brands are a great way to capitalize on a modern look for your desktop.
3. Newton’s Cradle
Up next, we’ll spotlight an iconic bit of desktop fun with the Newton’s Cradle. This object is part scientific display, part toy, part work of art, and all a perfect choice for your desk. Similarly to our decorative item entry in our first list, the Newton’s Cradle doesn’t really provide anything productive for your desk, but it does say something about your taste in design. And really, do you know anybody who’s observed one of these in person without smiling at least a little? We doubt it.
4. Stylish Speaker System
From decorative back to functional, next, we’ll sound off about a high-quality speaker system. Of course, this one is subjective in that we all experience sound somewhat differently, and we’re all going to look for our own particulars when it comes to speakers. Therefore, we’re not going to mention any specific brands today as you’ll probably know what you want to look for in speakers better than we will.
Whatever the brand, though, the inclusion of a speaker system that works well and looks good will allow you to enjoy a higher quality of audio while you work. And if you’re taking a quick break, our videos sound a lot better in stereo.
And on a similar note, if there are others around – even in your home working environment – or if you want a more intimate audio experience, having a high-quality pair of headphones to interact with your devices is also a good idea.
5. Water Carafe
Finally here, it’s important to maintain a good level of hydration throughout the day, so you can feel your best and stay focused, which means a water carafe is an excellent addition to this list. A simple, clean design in clear glass has a great presence on a desktop.
While there are many options out there, you should go for something inspired by geometric lines for that modern classic feel. And if you’d like to add a “hydration station” to our first, more traditional list, you could consider something more ornate, and you shouldn’t need to spend a lot of money here unless you want to, as many stylish carafes can be found in a range of $30 to $40 dollars.
And, of course, do remember to empty and wash it regularly, refilling with fresh, clean water to keep things looking, feeling, and tasting as good as possible.
General Gentleman’s Desktop Tips
No matter which desktop aesthetic you choose, let’s wrap up today with a few general desktop pointers. These should enhance not only the look of your working environment but also your working mindset as well.
1. Don’t clutter your desk
First up here, don’t clutter your desk. Lean a little bit into that old adage about a tidy desk equaling a tidy mind. With a place for everything and everything in its place, you’ll be able to quickly access anything you need, and the overall appearance will be neat and tidy.
You could put paper clips or extra staples into a tidbit tray like the one from Fort Belvedere perhaps. We’re not suggesting that you be obsessive about keeping your desk spotless, but rather that you adopt the mindset of just trying to keep things generally clean. This might not necessarily be true for everyone, but it’s likely true for most that they’re able to work better in a space that is clean, calm, and functional.
On that note, dust, and grime can accumulate quickly, especially in the corners opposite from where you’re sitting, so having a duster on hand would also be a good idea.
2. Be mindful of what you store openly on your desk
Next, be mindful of what you store openly on your desk items, such as a book that you’re reading or personal correspondence that your writing might end up on camera during a video conference for instance; so if you have anything highly personal on your desk, be sure to tidy things up in those circumstances.
3. Make sure you have some nature nearby
And finally here, make sure you have some nature nearby. This could be a window to observe the changing seasons or the weather outside or just some greenery. Even a faux potted plant should improve your mood and help you to focus.
Overall, you just don’t want to feel imprisoned in your workspace. Our previous interior design installments should also help you out here.
Where do you fall in terms of stylistic preferences for your desk? Are you one to go for a more modern feel or something more traditional? Whatever the case may be, let us know in the comments below. Ultimately, when it comes to your desktop, let it be a reflection of who you are and what inspires and motivates you, and let it make your work that much more enjoyable.
Today, I’m wearing a simple, casual outfit for getting some work done around the house. The central element is my cardigan sweater with mottled yarns in bluish, brownish, and black tones. I’m wearing it over a shirt that features a light blue and black microgrid pattern on white ground. To go with the casual feel and to fit more easily under the sweater sleeves, I’m just wearing barrel cuffs today.
My trousers are plain khaki, and my shoes are my well-loved pair of tobacco brown suede loafers from the brand Scarosso. Also harmonizing with the overall color feel of the outfit are my two-toned, shadow-striped socks from Fort Belvedere, a relatively new addition to our shop at the time of this post’s production, in khaki and navy.
Again, keeping things casual, I’ve left the product out of my hair and let my facial hair grow a bit as well. And keeping with the blue tones featured in my outfit, a fragrance like Polo Ralph Lauren’s Blue could be a good choice here. And, of course, you can find the socks I’m wearing today, along with a wide array of other classic men’s accessories, by looking at the Fort Belvedere shop.