7 Items That Will Majorly Improve Your Home Office

'Cause we're going to be here a while...

Remember when lockdown started and us office-dwellers thought we’d be back in our cubicles by June? Cut to September and many of us are still working from home for the foreseeable future (and darn lucky to be). About three months in, when I realized that we weren’t heading back to FLARE HQ any time soon, I finally admitted it to myself and invested in a proper desk and chair, like many people in similar situations did. (It came as no surprise to me that most of the desk models I was looking at online were sold out.) But now that those basics are taken care of, and I’ve settled into the “new normal,” I’m trying to find ways to make my makeshift home office a little lovelier.

Here, seven home office upgrades that have seriously improved my WFH life.

The fragrance upgrade

Nothing breaks my midday concentration like lingering cooking smells from lunch. I’ve found that the most effective (and easiest) way for me to reset after an epic lunchtime grilled cheese is lighting some incense. These all-natural lavender sticks from homegrown brand Province Apothecary are nothing like the suffocating patchouli that overpowered my favourite mall store in the ’90s. (Any other Mississauga millennials remember Ola??) It’s fresh and invigorating and zaps away any competing odours in seconds.

Lavender Essential Oil Incense, $16, provinceapothecary.com

The coffee upgrade

Those who know me are likely sick of hearing me prattle on about how much I love my Nespresso machine. (Honestly, I’m just waiting for Gen Z to zing me with a “Loving Nespresso is not a personality trait” meme….) It was my lifesaver long before quar, and during lockdown I used it so frequently that had to get a replacement. While I was browsing the new machines on their website, I was struck by their milk frother accessories and decided that getting one was probably a very good investment. Back during our in-office days I would frequently treat myself to an afternoon latte at the cafe across the street, and now I can do that from the comfort of my own home. Almond milk, oat milk or 2%?

Aeroccino 3, $99, nespresso.com

The tech upgrade

I was due for a laptop upgrade this year and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the lightweight MacBook Air after years of breaking my back toting around heavier machines. Though I’m not doing much commuting these days, the 13-inch laptop is so much more comfortable when I want a break from my desk and sit with my computer on my lap on the couch, or take it to a nearby park or patio for some fresh air. The new MacBook has 2x the performance speed of the previous iteration, which is a thing I didn’t really think I cared about until I tried this, and it really does make a difference, especially now that I’m running approx. a million programs while also video conferencing all day long. Bonus: Right now, Apple has a pretty sweet back-to-school deal where you can get a free pair of AirPods with the purchase of any MacBook.

13-Inch MacBook Air, from $1,169 (education pricing) / $1,299 (regular), apple.com

The wall upgrade

Did anyone else suddenly feel like their walls were SO BARE now that we’re staring at the same four all day? COVID really inspired me to increase my art collection, and I was thrilled to find some new female and female-identifying artists to support through online marketplaces like Society 6 and Mrkt Gallery. This dainty vase print by Toronto-based illustrator Alyssa Goodman is going above my desk for a refreshing eyeball break from my laptop screen.

Backbend Vase by Alyssa Goodman, from $45, mrktgallery.com

The pick-me-up-grade

Few things consistently deliver joy like fresh flowers, so if you can swing it cost-wise, I highly recommend the highly uplifting floral subscription service from Wild North Flowers. Can’t commit to a six-month subscription for these sculptural hand-tied bouquets? Pick up a $5 bunch every once in a while from the grocery store—trust me, even a handful of Gerber daisies is an instant mood booster.

Hand-Tied Bouquet Flower Subscription, $495 for six months, wildnorthflowers.com

The organizational upgrade

Working from home for most of us also means “working from a confined space.” Suddenly I seem to have stuff EVERYWHERE and it only takes minutes for my small desk to get cluttered to the point of total dysfunction. Enter the chic catch-all. This one from Canadian designer Mary Ratcliffe is small enough that it doesn’t take up too much real estate on said small desk, but just big enough to hold all my odds and ends: random USBs, a lip oil, pieces of jewellery and *always* a claw clip.

Catch All, $55 (small)–$118 (large), maryratcliffe.studio

The air upgrade

My south-facing condo heats up like a greenhouse, and while that’s great in the winter (we basically only ever have to turn the heat on a handful of times when it really gets bitter outside!) it can be stifling in the summer, even with air conditioning on full blast. We’ve wasted a lot of money on sub-par fans over the past few years and finally found a solution with this does-it-all machine from Dyson: It moderates temperature and humidity while also trapping air pollution. For all that, it naturally comes with a hefty price tag, but for us it’s very much worth the investment to not have to contend with sweat moustaches during Zoom meetings anymore.

Pure Humidify + Cool, $1,000, dysoncanada.ca