The 5 Upgrades We’re Making as a WFH Couple in 2021

Home office with large bookshelf.

Ashley Montgomery Design

Like many of us, my husband and I have found ourselves working from home for another year, and our 800-square foot duplex does its best to serve as a happy hour favorite, theater, office, co-working space, studio, home gym, and more. 

But as we pack up to move to a new duplex—with a dedicated office—across town, we’re also making plans to ensure we avoid cabin fever as much as possible this year. Here’s how we’re making the most of our space in the second year of quarantine.

01 of 05

Honoring Each Room’s Function

One of the biggest mistakes I made in 2020 was allowing each room to be multi-functional. In theory, it made sense, but in practice, it made for a demotivating working environment. I often asked myself, am I in the living room or the Reed-Clark boardroom? We certainly fell into the trap of “living at work.”

I often asked myself, am I in the living room or the Reed-Clark boardroom? We certainly fell into the trap of living at work.

To remedy the issue, we’re enforcing the rule to honor each room’s function at the new duplex. The kitchen is for cooking, the living room is for after-hours entertainment, and the office is for working. We are transforming some additional closet space into a gym and phone booth for quick calls—and limited doom-scrolling. 

The intention behind the seemingly rigid rule is to recondition our minds to see parts of the house as escapes from work. Previously, our already space-challenged home kept feeling smaller and smaller because there wasn’t a work-free zone to seek refuge in, not even our bed. 

That leads to the room that deserves the greatest level of intention: our bedroom. We’ve set up a tech station outside the door for phones and smartwatches so that our bedroom performs its function of being a space for rest and relaxation. 

02 of 05

Adding a Wall Calender

Admittedly, this serves more of an aesthetic purpose than optimal functionality, but I think I’m ready for our office to be the coolest space on the block. As I was completely inspired by millennial home décor expert Alexandra Gater, we are now building a wall calendar.

The greatest perk of this upgrade is a shared calendar that my husband and I can look at to see who needs the office when recording a podcast or filming online content. We’re both in the creative space and learned that communication is really key, especially if we both want to use the office space at golden hour for content pictures.

03 of 05

Investing in a Plush Desk Chair

Between my Peloton bike and the Target chairs that I had originally bought as décor, my butt has hit its fashion-over-function threshold in the last year. 

Because I am looking to truly confine myself to one space for most of the day, investing in quality, to me, is a no-brainer. I’ve been eyeing some options and ultimately have found a swivel chair with a curved back that fits my body best. I'm currently pining over the CB2 Channel Suede Office Chair that is out-of-stock at the moment but will be back in February—which gives me enough time to save on the splurge.

Channel Suede Office Chair
CB2 Channel Suede Office Chair $800
04 of 05

Adding in a Morning and Afternoon “Commute”

As an end-of-year experiment, I tracked how longer walks affected my energy and productivity levels during the workweek. As you and most researchers can likely imagine, some vitamin D and fresh air does the body and mind good. 

My husband and I live in East Dallas, and it allows for pleasant walks in most months of the year. My partner, who was already an avid walker—typically tracking 5 miles per day— now has a walking buddy.

“I found this ritual years ago," he says. "Adding a quick walk, even around the block, helps my mind go from ‘resting mode’ to ‘work mode.’ Since quarantine, I’ve found that I like taking my phone meetings on a walk. I get a change of scenery, and a little bit of exercise in, too."

Personally, I’ve found having three walks per day in the morning, afternoon, and evening helps my mind to compartmentalize the workday and encourages me to hit my daily goal of 10K steps. Plus, our dog doesn’t seem to mind all the extra outdoor time either.

05 of 05

Hosting "Coworking" Events

I used to be an avid home entertainer, hosting annual barbeques, regular dinner parties, and an infamous BYOBoard Game night that resulted in 25 people squeezing into a small space and playing Cards Against Humanity. And my husband’s employer was stationed at a local co-working space that had fun events like "Mimosa Mondays" and "Free Haircut Day." Needless to say, we were once spoiled with stimulation and miss it often. 

We reworked our monthly budget to include Friday happy hours in the dining room. So far, we’ve had a Tex-Mex themed happy hour with tamales and margaritas and a “healthy happy hour” complete with champ-Bucha (champagne and Kombucha) and vegan appetizers. We make happy hour at home a bit more special by adorning our chalkboard wall with the upcoming date, which allows for giddy anticipation and taking lots of pictures with our Polaroid on hand. 

It’s been both a special treat for us to unwind together and officially ring in the weekend, as well as a creative exercise I look forward to.

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