If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that loungewear reigns supreme and your working from home set up is more important than ever. Like most people, I rush ordered a whole heap of furniture and homewares to deck out my office during lockdown. The result? Well, you wouldn’t find it on any Pinterest board.
So, you best believe I jumped at the chance to catch up with Sydney local and interior design stylist Steve Cordony to get his top tips on curating the perfect working from home space so that we can all enjoy more quality moments when we step away from our desks. Not only is he the director of his interior company, but he’s also Belle Magazine’s Style Director-At-Large. So yeah, he knows a thing or two about style.
Armed with a steaming cup of Nespresso coffee, I sat down with Steve to chat all things interior design, how he feels about Gigi Hadid’s chaotic pasta cabinets, vintage Brad Pitt posters and ultimately, how to transform your space into a home office of your Pinterest dreams and add convenience to your day.
Do you find living in Sydney has influenced your design and style aesthetic?
Absolutely. We have so much diversity within our design aesthetic in Australia, and while I often reference European detailing within my work, the overall mood and feel of the spaces I like to create is relaxed, and laid back while still tailored, which is very much a Sydney influence.
You’ve worked on some incredible projects, can you talk us through your creative process?
I’ve been really fortunate to work with some amazing brands and projects, and no matter what I am working on, I always start by creating a visual reference or what I call a ‘look book’. It becomes my blueprint for the project, and I always refer to it during the design process to make sure that the core theme or outcome I set out to achieve from the get-go is realised.
This year has been tough for those working from home, How did you handle that transition from being out and about at shoots and on sets to working every day at home?
For me, it was all about structure, and having a sense of a ‘workplace’ at home. I am lucky to have a separate office which I set up as a permanent space this year; I have found it’s really important to have a space that is right for you and really sets you up for success. For me to maintain a work-life balance I tried to keep a similar routine to my normal working schedule, which meant being as productive as possible while ensuring I took those quality breaks when needed. The biggest challenge was not having people around to bounce ideas off as design is such a collaborative process, but the digital age made it easier to keep in contact with the team and my clients.
At Urban List, we sit through a lot of Zoom meetings. Currently, my team see a stark white wall behind me, whereas everyone else has beautiful backgrounds—one colleague even has a thrifted poster of Brad Pitt which is a big vibe. Do you have any tips on curating a boujee backdrop for Zoom calls?
The Zoom background has totally become a thing in 2020 and, for me, the biggest key is natural lighting. If you have your desk by a window, use the outside as the perfect natural backdrop, but shoot down the window rather than straight out to avoid glare. Ideally, a shelf or console works well to have behind your desk not only as storage but it also allows you to add home objects, a desk lamp or flowers and a candle which not only make the space feel good but also creates the perfect Zoom backdrop. If space is an issue, try hanging a great piece of art or photography on the blank wall behind you. Failing this, there is always Brad Pitt!
How important do you think it is to step away from the desk to enjoy a moment of peace? Do you have a specific spot at your house that you like to unwind?
One of the biggest challenges to working from home is not having those habitual routines that you might when working in an office environment; like going to grab a coffee at your favourite café. Sometimes, work can be all consuming, so having a ‘nook’ or a certain time of day where you leave your workspace to still take a hassle-free coffee break is so important. I have a corner armchair in the lounge room where I love to sit and read, or more often scroll my phone, plus the kitchen has become my very own café as I have a whole Nespresso coffee zone! I love that I have a place where I can easily step out of the work zone and take time to decompress, or even better, get my creative juices flowing and come back fresh.
What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to dial up their WFH set up when they’re working with a small budget?
The small details make all the difference when setting up a home workspace. A small tray to contain desktop items is an easy styling tool and also allows for mobile hot desking. Adding greenery or indoor plants to your space is also a great way to bring the outdoors in and create a calm atmosphere.
plants always make a home feel fresh and instantly liven a space, How many PLANTS are too many in your opinion?
I like to have one fresh arrangement on the desk and a kentia palm or fiddle leaf fig in a pot in the corner of the room. It depends on the look you’re are trying to create, but anywhere from two to five will work without the room feeling like a greenhouse.
What styling TIPS would you give to someone who doesn’t necessarily have an office space—they’re just working out of their bedroom?
Mobile storage that can double for both home and work items is a great way to make a dual functioning space work. They could be as simple as a commode that is split with both personal and work drawers, or small trays or labelled storage boxes that can be moved easily to define both zones.
When it comes to the maximalist vs minimalist debate, did you catch Gigi Hadid’s apartment makeover back in July? Do you believe less really is more or are you a big fan of pasta cabinets?
For me, I prefer tailored editing: I like a lot of objects and treasures around the home, but they are always styled within a grouped vignette or contained within a tray or cupboard etc. It also depends on the style you are trying to create. For me, when I saw the images of Gigi’s apartment, it felt a little chaotic and scattered, but everyone is different.
For most of us working from home, it means we’re sitting at our desk for hours looking at a computer screen, Do you have any tips around balancing comfort and style?
I like to treat the office space or work zone, the same way as I style the rest of my home. Keeping the same style and theme for your workspace, and using similar objects and accessories as you would style your coffee table or hallway console, will make your space feel cohesive. We are spending more and more time at home, so the space and style should reflect those comforts that bring a little joy to your day – a great chair, the perfect playlist and quality coffee.
And finally, how do you stay energised and motivated with such a hectic schedule?
I love to have rituals that I try to stick to. For me, it’s my early morning gym session, followed by meditation. I then like to take a moment with my Nespresso short black to plan the day ahead and be as centered as possible as I start my working day. I’ve also realised the need to invest in services that make our working from home lives easier and more convenient. Looking at services like the Nespresso Coffee Subscription, can be a really seamless way to ensure we can enjoy little luxuries like a quality coffee everyday but delivered right to our front door.
Feeling inspired and ready to spruce up your own digs? Start with a Nespresso machine that not only looks damn cool on your counter but also allows you to enjoy a moment to unwind with a quality Nespresso coffee in hand during a busy day. Plus, you’ll never run out thanks to the hassle-free, cost-efficient subscription service by Nespresso. We’re buzzing with excitement already!
Image credit: Steve Cordony Instagram
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