Working from Home vs. an Office: Which is Better for Interior Designers?

How, and where, do you work? 

This will depend on your personal preference, the size of your home, and how much money you have available for rent.

​Read on for my top tips on a home Vs rented interior design studio, PLUS 9 tips for meeting in a public space.

​Working from home as an interior designer is entirely possible. Which is great as it’s one less expense to think about. It also means you can wear your pyjamas to work (but watch out if your energy levels drop, sometimes it can help to dress like you mean business!).

If you do plan to work from home, I would try and carve out a dedicated space. When I started out from home, it quite quickly became challenging with pattern books and samples strewn over the dining room table and supplies in the spare bedroom. 

I decided to rent an office when we began renovating our house as I wasn’t comfortable having suppliers and reps visit me at home.

​My rented office was ideal. It was a shared office building – which meant there were communal facilities but my own office. I really enjoyed the commute (just 15 minutes in the car) as well as being around other people. PLUS, the ladies at the office were there 9-5 and so there was always someone in to receive parcels and deliveries which is such a bonus. 

One of the greatest joys when I moved out of home and into my rented office space, was the ability to leave everything out and return to it the next day, picking up where I left off. At home I was forever clearing down a scheme I was working on to be able to eat dinner at the dining room table. I found it quite frustrating, especially when my husband started using samples as coasters… (yes, really).

I felt really professional having my own dedicated office space (rather than working at home). It made visits from suppliers and reps super easy, and I enjoyed the separation of work and home. It didn’t hurt that my commute was along a beautiful stretch of coastline. 

However, my long-term plan had always been to have a garden office. We tagged the build on to the end of our house renovation and, as luck would have it, completed work on ‘The Hive’ at the end of March 2020. Just as we went into the first Covid lock down. 

Having a dedicated workspace at home has been the perfect balance. All the benefits of a short commute and being able to work irregular hours as needed, but the separation of home and office. It’s quite lovely having my own little domain in the garden – even if I do moan about the commute when it’s raining!

I appreciate that I’m lucky to have the space to build an office in the garden. If you can’t, and are using a room in your home, organisation is definitely key to a happy work/life balance. I don’t need to tell you that though. You’re a designer, so I am sure have a perfectly planned home office set-up with ALL. THE. STORAGE!

Another key to home working, which can take some getting used to if you haven’t done it before, is the ability to concentrate on work tasks and not lose focus. It’s great to pop a load of washing on before you sit down at your desk – but it is also easy to drift back to the kitchen, linger over lunch, or be distracted by a million things that are not business related!

If this is you, make sure you find some tools and techniques to keep your productivity up. We all procrastinate from time to time – but find a structure to your day that keeps the work and creativity flowing and earning you money!

Working from home means you’ll also need to be happy in your own company. If you’re an introvert then you’ll be content on your own with the occasional sourcing trip, client meeting or event/exhibition.

If you’re more extrovert in nature, and feed off being around other people, working at home might be more challenging. If this is the case, I also have tips for meeting outside your home. This is also applicable for anyone wanting to meet with suppliers and reps, or clients who can’t meet you at their home (for instance if it’s not built yet).

This advise does assume that you are home alone! Additional challenges can arise if another member of your household works from home too – or after school hours if you have children. In these situations, setting boundaries and “rules of work” are really important to allow both you the time to focus, and other householders time and space to enjoy their home! It’s perfectly acceptable to meet a client and reps at a third-party location and can work really well to have a relaxed and informal space to chat.

My top tips for meeting outside of the home and office:

  1. Consider your location carefully. Too much chatter or background noise can be really distracting when you are trying to present.
  2. Is there easy parking nearby to your chosen location? Or a short walk from a train or bus station.
  3. Is there a decent toilet at the location? Definitely bear in mind if either of the meeting participants is travelling any distance. 
  4. Look for somewhere with space. Whether you are meeting a rep or presenting a scheme – you may have mood boards or samples – and these need space!
  5. Popular places are cafes so you can also grab a drink. Do give them a heads up though if you are going to hog a table for a longer than average amount of time – and do make sure you buy a few drinks.
  6. Consider an alternative to a café such as a hotel. Often a larger hotel will have space in their foyer, or a small lounge area which is quieter. Again, give them the heads up and ask if it’s o.k. to meet. They may well welcome the mid-week custom.
  7. Another alternative is a supplier showroom. If there is an element of your scheme – tiles, bathrooms etc. that you are presenting, ask them if you can hold your meeting there. It means inspiration is all around you, and again it is often a quieter space mid-week.
  8. If you build relationships with local suppliers and shops, they will often lay on a special service for you. My local Bo Concept store in Canterbury can arrange for you to go in with your client, and they supply the drinks!
  9. If you want to work (even solo) on a more regular basis, then consider a co-working space. These are popping up all over the place. They all operate a little differently, some require a membership and others you can just drop in. Nearly all have facility for meetings too and lots have perks such as free Wi-Fi, tea & coffee.

When you are meeting outside of your home – including client site meetings – think of your safety first. Tell someone you trust, who you are meeting and where.

I send a calendar invite to my husband with my meeting location and the name of the person I am meeting. And I call him when I am out and safe.

This could be any friend or relative, or team up with another interior designer and support each other in this way. It doesn’t matter who your ‘meeting buddy’ is – just make sure someone knows where you are.

​As with everything we do as interior designers, planning is key. Ultimately, find a work environment that works for your business and your needs and remember, this may well evolve over time.

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