Founder of multi-disciplinary creative studio, A Common Thread, Alexandra Beggs shares why homeowners are paying her to dress up their work corners for Zoom calls

Welcome to your new office: your home. By now you’ve probably clocked in at least 100 Zoom calls, many of which consisted of creative virtual filters and backdrops that may on occasion have made you appear a little ghostly. Not a good look if you’re hosting webinars or making a presentation to high-level executives and directors.

Maybe it’s time you joined a growing number of work-from-homers who are sprucing up their work spaces to create a video-worthy background. According to Alexandra Beggs, founder of multi-disciplinary creative studio, A Common Thread, not only have home renovation projects spiked over the last year, a large portion of that revolves around creating the perfect physical backdrop for Zoom meetings.

Founder and creative director of multi-disciplinary creative studio, A Common Thread, Alexandra Beggs

“The importance of comfort, aesthetics, size and space have become front and centre in people’s minds. Many are moving into larger spaces while some are opting for a ‘don’t move, improve’ approach and reconfiguring existing layouts to maximise their existing spaces. We have been designing more Zoom backgrounds than dining rooms at the moment!” she shares.

The reason for this is simple: many people want to continue to operate professionally despite having to work from home. “With the work-from-home (WFH) situation still in effect, these clients want to create a solution that allows them to continue to work

seamlessly from home. Elements like video camera location, lighting, and what’s in the fore and background are key to creating a professional scene. They’re also of the mindset that this is a long-term solution to the WFH flexibility – a byproduct of this pandemic,” says Beggs.

In terms of theme or concept, she explains that “it’s less about a theme and more about who they are as a person and how that can be represented visually.” But for the most part, they just want a background that’s uncluttered and always pleasing to the eye.

While many private homeowners have been giving their homes extensive overhauls with many doing gut renovations and reconfiguring floorplans, those with smaller budgets or renting apartments do invest in custom furniture pieces, window dressings, wall coverings, accessories and styling.

For those living abroad, A Common Thread also offers virtual e-styling consultations where they can assess the blueprints of your home and advise possible styling upgrades that you can perform easily on your own.

Beggs’ company also retails a growing collection of lifestyle items by A.C.T. Essential, centred around peoples’ personal daily rituals. You may purchase them at actessential.com.

PHOTO: Pexels/Karolina Grabow

Simple ways to make your home camera-ready

#1 Find an ideal backdrop

Not everyone is blessed with a dedicated room for a home office. For Zoom calls, you could move into the living room and pick an armchair and dress up the wall or window behind it. The console behind a dining table is also a great place to personalise with decorative ornaments like a lamp shade and plants.

#2 Set the camera at eye level

No one likes to see a close up of just your head on-screen. Before rearranging the backdrop, set the camera at eye-level – by raising your screen or setting your laptop on a few books – where you are visible from waist-up. That carves out just the right amount of space for decoration.

#3 Props to match your personality

The trick is to furnish your backdrop with just enough detail that conveys your personal style but not too much that it looks cluttered. A statement clock or large piece of artwork are great accents for creative people, while floating shelves filled with books and travel memorabilia showcase your intellectual side. Some sentimental people like to hang up inspirational quotes, a gallery of framed photos or vintage furniture against soft furnishings like curtains, while nature-lovers enjoy a mélange of plants for a homely feel.

#4 Murals are trending

Sitting in front of anything that is not a bare wall gives you more character. If you love colours and textures, consider wallpaper, exposed brick walls, or the current craze of mural art – a large picture painted or affixed directly on a wall or ceiling. 

#5 Colours play a part

Different hues also set the mood, not only for you, but the people looking at you from the other side. Green evokes balance, freshness and is easiest on the eyes; blue is calming and promotes communication and efficiency; yellow brings a burst of positivity, creativity and happiness; while red represents courage, strength and excitement.

#6 Light up your face

If you can sit in front of a window, the natural light will bounce off nicely on your face and backdrop. Otherwise, a ring light works equally well to illuminate your surroundings. Just remember never to have the light source behind you as that will make your skin look grey.

MAIN PHOTO: Pexels/ Pavel Danilyuk