Look—it doesn’t really matter what the background of your room looks like when you’re on a Zoom meeting. These days, something as small as a perfect piece of statement art here or a new throw blanket there are pretty trivial. But if you have a big presentation, an important meeting, or a cable news interview coming up, some extra touches can be the perfect boost to help you feel confident and cool while broadcasting live from your living room. That’s why we tapped Emerie Forehand, an elite designer at Decorist—the online interior decorating gurus—to offer simple tips and accessible products to give your (real life) Zoom room a little love (and a very attractive background).
Start by decluttering
Cleaning up a little bit can make a huge difference, so go ahead and do your best Marie Kondo. Take out any items or furniture in your Zoom frame that don’t bring you joy. “Clear out anything from behind your camera that will come across as too busy,” Forehand says. Put books back on shelves, tuck away your extra phone and computer chargers, and move your cup of pencils out of frame. Added bonus: It will make your desk feel freer even after the Zoom is over.
Keep your backdrop simple
No need for silly superimposed beaches at this point. “I prefer a solid background with larger art or wallpaper that is not too hectic with patterns.” Opt for a room of your house with a blank wall, and avoid doorways if possible (to prevent accidental guest appearances).
“Lighting can make you look 10 times better,” Forehand says. “A light with a high color rendering index (CRI) is able to show the true colors of every object in a room, so I highly recommend investing in better lighting.” And although we all swoon over the new Dyson Lightcycle Morph lamp ($650), it doesn’t have to be that expensive. Forehand recommends biting the bullet and buying a ring light. (I mean, there’s a reason why all those influencers and YouTubers look so good all the time.) “A ring light is always a big plus if you do not have natural daylight.” Check out the Fotodiox Pro Ring Light ($180) from Urban Outfitters or any number of very affordable options from Wayfair for as low as $20.
Get a plant (or three)
“Plants can create height and a natural fresh look,” says Forehand. Houseplants make your house look happy and alive and, surprise, also make you feel happy and alive (it’s science). There’s really no reason not to add a lovely little fern or a statement Money Tree to your space. And thanks to direct-to-consumer companies, you can have a houseplant delivered right to your door. “I use The Sill and Bloomscape for sure—and I have also been trying to support more Black-owned companies, such as Planting with P,” Forehand says.
Hang wall art—it’s a game changer
There are so many ways to get something in a frame and liven up your walls—or just put the finishing touch on them. “If you’re creative, try making something at home,” Forehand suggests. “But I understand that printing can be tedious with trying to find the perfect frame, so why not try to support locals and see what artists are doing around your neighborhood?” Sites like Minted and Society6 have a boundless collection of photo, mixed media, and graphic design prints from independent artists. “I’ve sourced art from Society6—art by TMSbyNIGHT and ThingDesign really catch my eye,” Forehand says.
Show some personality
“I like to layer artwork and a few books and add a funky vase to add a little something,” Forehand says. Putting some pampas grass into a vase is about as easy and low-maintenance as it gets, and the unique and gorgeous vases at Garmentory and Trouva are sure to inspire. But don’t go overboard. The goal is to keep your statement pieces few, so they can have a big impact—because as our expert puts it: “Sometimes simple comes across clean and reads better to the viewer.”
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