Bored of WFH? Top Designers Share How They Find Their Daily Inspiration

how to find inspiration working from home - traditional desk next to bed

Design: Katie Hodges Design

Working from home is enforced for many of us during this pandemic, and although it's not always easy, it created moments of unexpected inspiration and joy in places we may have never looked before.

“Creating the mental space to find inspiration requires more effort during times of stress,” Kama Hagar, a certified holistic wellness trainer based in Lake Arrowhead, California, says. “You need to mentally and physically surrender yourself to unearth inspiration. Sometimes, it can be discovered by simply taking a midday walk, shaking your body to a new song, calling a friend you haven’t talked to in a while, or doing some breathing work.”

Despite being unable to go into the office, even interior designers are still able to find inspiration at home and make their clients' dreams reality. Here, HGTV stars and top interior designers share what inspires them most as they continue to WFH.

01 of 08

Savor Breakfast Time

Egg and Greens Bowl aka Sautéed Breakfast Salad

Eating Bird Food 

“I love having more time in the morning to enjoy the simple practice of making a hot tea latte and egg taco with my daughter. We go downstairs and fix an Earl Grey with a Bergamot juice shot, froth our milk in the Nespresso machine, and add a bit of sweet homemade vanilla syrup. Then, we take a flour tortilla that has been soaked in water and roast it on the gas range top over the flame—making it soft and fluffy on the inside, crispy and crunchy on the outside—before topping it with a fried egg, melted cheese, and slices of avocados. It’s the perfect way to have a bit of quiet time together before the craziness of the day starts.”—Tamara Day, host & designer of HGTV Bargain Mansions, founder of Growing Days Design and Growing Days Home in Kansas City, Missouri

“Before the pandemic, the idea of whipping up a delicious, hot breakfast before work was truly laughable. I had too many other things to think through before sprinting out the door to my office. Working from home, I’ve been forced to slow down. Now, I have time to think through what would be fun to cook for my first meal of the day—and actually sit down and eat it. Having a breakfast cooking ritual is a fulfilling way to start the morning and allows for meaningful time with my own thoughts, leading to a healthier, more productive day.”—Mandy Cheng, principal and owner of Mandy Cheng Design in Los Angeles, California

02 of 08

Focus On Empowering Words

how to use crystals
Alice Gao for Elemental Energy

“My sister and I discovered these square marquee boards while roaming a market and have enjoyed them in our homes and our clients’ homes ever since. I’ll use mine to spell out an uplifting word or pick-me-up phrase. Words and phrases like patience, laugh often, spontaneity, and positivity help reinforce happy thoughts and push me to be better and do better throughout the week. And who couldn’t use a little reinforcement this year? —Heather Fujikawa, principal designer of House Sprucing in Dallas, Texas 

marquee board
Habitat Studio Square Marquee Board $89 $78
Shop

“My inspiring morning ritual that sets the tone for the day involves reading from a hand-illustrated card offering inspiration that provides words of wisdom or a sense of connectivity. I love sharing the card I pulled that day with my family at dinner, which takes our minds off the day’s stresses or concerns, while adding a bit of magic and lightness to the table.”—Lucy Penfield, founder and principal of Lucy Interior Design in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Inquire Within deck
Jewelweed Inquire Within Deck $48
Shop
03 of 08

Create Daily Rituals

coffee with beans, glasses and a watch on white table

Jess Bailey/Unsplash

“A friend gave me a pour-over coffee carafe a few years ago, but because I was always rushing out the door, I never had time to use it, often stopping at a local coffee shop on the way to work. Being home, the ritual of making coffee has become the first thing I do to start my day. Pour over coffee isn’t a quick fix—putting on the kettle and pouring over the water is a slower method to getting caffeine pumping into your veins—but the whole process is so zen and gives me a few moments to focus on one singular thing before a full day of multitasking begins.”—Anna Kroesser, principal of Kroesser + Strat Design in New York City

6-Cup Pour Over Coffee Maker
Williams Sonoma Chemex 6-Cup Pour-Over Glass Coffee Maker $44
Shop

“Honestly, getting dressed every day has helped me stay engaged and feel inspired. Even if I don't plan on seeing anyone, taking the time to choose something I'm excited to wear makes the day matter, the work I'm doing important, and helps me take on the day full-force. What's most important in my routine is putting on shoes, which helps me feel ‘professional’ even if I'm not going to leave the house. I discovered these cozy, comfortable tennis shoes that I wear around the house, since there's no need for anything formal or dressy. They’re empowering and make me feel like I’m having a normal day, not just another pajama day at home.”—Orlando Soria, interior designer, host of HGTV’s Build Me Up, and judge on Brother Vs. Brother

Wool Dasher shoe.
Allbirds Men's Wool Dasher Mizzles $115
Shop

“Using this coffee machine has become my inspirational morning ritual. I love the way the bloom mode fills my kitchen with the delicious aroma of fresh brewed coffee, and it really makes an exceptional cup. It's also visually stunning and pretties up my countertops—which is important for an interior designer.”—Ariel Okin, principal and founder of Ariel Okin Interiors in New York City

Ratio 8 Coffee Machine
Ratio Coffee Ratio Eight $495
Shop
04 of 08

Set The Mood in Your Home Office

Scandi office with photos above it

Black and Blooms

“One perk of a WFH space is the ability to be in an environment more comfortable and less sterile than a traditional office, with lighting playing a big role in creating that ambiance. For me, lighting can inspire or kill a good work flow: overhead light can be too harsh, task light can be too intense. At home, you have more control and can experiment with a variety of options. I found this table lamp, with its rattan base and tapered woven shade, creates the perfect glow.”—Megan Hopp, founder and principal, of Megan Hopp Design in New York City and Washington, DC

Priscilla Table Lamp
Urban Outfitters Priscilla Table Lamp $169
Shop

“During the first few months of the pandemic, I researched high and low for the perfect desk chair for working from home. I wanted something functional and ergonomic, but also well-designed. When I discovered this beautiful green velvet rolling desk chair, I knew I found a winner. Seeing these chairs—I also purchased one for my husband—gives me pure joy and excitement as I start my work day! They’re definitely not boring or generic, and they give our office space that extra flair any design enthusiast would appreciate.”—Haley Weidenbaum, interior designer and founder of Everhem in Los Angeles, California

Channel Green Velvet Office Chair
CB2 Channel Green Velvet Office Chair $599
Shop

“I’m always looking for ways to savor everyday moments, instead of just ‘making it through’ a busy morning. A scented candle, some happy music, and a warm drink are rituals that help me transition into the workday—even though I’m physically not going anywhere—and inspire me as I settle in my home office for a productive day ahead. I love getting a certain chai tea from a neighborhood coffee shop, and I recently discovered one that has the same complex spicy flavor, only I can brew it at home. I add a little steamed almond milk and a dash of honey for a full-on cozy experience at my desk.” —Camille Styles, lifestyle expert and author of Camille Styles Entertaining

Chai black tea.
Good & Gather Organic Chai Black Tea - 20 count $2.79
Shop
05 of 08

Calm Down With The Help of an App

woman outside

Nathan Guzman/Unsplash

“Working from home eliminates commuting to the office, so I take advantage of the time saved by meditating with this appropriately named app called Calm. I discovered it at the beginning of the pandemic when I was looking for ways to stay centered amongst all of the chaos and stress. Starting each morning with meditation sets my intentions for the day and has allowed me to find more peace and serenity in my life. It has become an unexpected benefit of working from home.”—Tineke Triggs, owner of Artistic Designs for Living in San Francisco, California

“Whether I’m eking out five minutes just to clear the chaos from my mind, or trying to drift off to sleep listening to the surprisingly smooth voice of Matthew McConaughey as he narrates a sleep story, this app has inspired me to incorporate calmness throughout my day.”—Barbie Palomino, founder of Studio Palomino in Los Angeles, California

06 of 08

Bring Your Workout Home

home gym ideas

Design: Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault

“I’ve taken The Dailey Method's studio classes for almost 20 years, but since in-person classes are not currently the safest option, I’ve found their new virtual classes to be a great alternative and an inspirational morning ritual. Working out at home keeps me strong on other fronts and I am a better person throughout the day to all the people around me. Plus, it’s a way of connecting to a supportive and fun collective of women and men during this time of isolation.”—Jennifer Robin of Jennifer Robin Interiors in San Anselmo, California

“When the city of San Francisco shut down gyms due to the pandemic, I knew I had to find an alternative way to get my exercise fix. Thankfully, I discovered JetSweatFitness, an online portal with pre-recorded classes of my favorite BodyRok instructors, along with these amazing workout gliders that allow me to complete my workout at home. Starting the day off with a workout class leaves me feeling accomplished and healthy and ready to focus on all my client projects.”—Dina Bandman, principal and owner of Dina Bandman Interiors in San Francisco, California

07 of 08

Nourish Your Body

banana matcha smoothie
Food Faith Fitness

“Since work from home started, I’ve fallen in love with my morning ritual of juicing. After waking up, I’ll pull out my juicer and make fresh celery juice for myself and my family. An esthetician turned me onto it—she swears by celery juice as a way to boost radiance and clear up breakouts. It has not only helped with my skin, but my overall mood feels lighter and I feel more inspired when I start my day. I find that when I take the time to properly nourish my body, my creative mind works more effectively.”—Karina Lameraner, Modsy Creative Stylist in San Francisco, California

Amazon Celery Juicer
Omega Medium Celery Juicer $300
Shop
08 of 08

Learn To Unplug

woman sitting by window drinking coffee

Getty Images/Westend61

“Everything seemed to go quiet at the height of the pandemic: people were scared and stayed indoors. One day, I took a break during the day and sat on the window ledge in my small office, embracing the outdoors through an open window. It sounds so simple, yet now, these breaks are part of my daily routine. Being able to hear the neighbor’s kids playing, or someone practicing piano, or the birds chirping—sounds I used to take for granted—now bring me comfort and inspiration.”—Molly Torres Portnof, principal designer of DATE Interiors in Brooklyn, New York

“With all of this time at home, I’m finally enjoying a lifetime’s worth of inspiring objects I’ve collected over the past decade, from the over eighty countries I’ve visited. Once a day, I’ll take ten minutes to sit in a room (that’s not my home office) and soak in the incredible craftsmanship from artisans around the world and recall the phenomenal journeys I’ve been on. How different cultures express themselves has always been insightful and inspiring to me—though they often work with the same materials like wood, stone, cotton, and silk, the end product can be drastically different. These unique creations in my home tell the story of people in a manner that not even words can express.”—Vern Yip, product designer at Vern Yip Designs, TV host, and author of Vacation at Home

“In the beginning of the pandemic, when quarantine seemed more short-term, cooking was a fun challenge that I took on to fill some time. Having never been a cook, I soon discovered I enjoyed it. Now, making dinner every night is my signal to stop working, since it can be really easy when you're working from home to never stop working. Being able to unplug every night helps me feel reinspired and rejuvenated for the next day.”—Emma Kemper, owner of Emma Beryl in Brooklyn, New York

“I start my day by carving out time in the morning to drink my coffee and sit in my backyard looking at all the plants and daydreaming. This process is important for me as a designer because I am always looking to be inspired and reflecting on ways to create better spaces for my clients. This time of the day is when I often have my ‘aha moments’ and everything starts to come together in mind.”—Ariel Richardson, founder and lead Designer of ASR Design Studio in San Diego, California 

Related Stories