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How's Your 'Zoom Room' Looking? Interior Designers Offer Tips

Women taking notes in front of computer screen
Jeff Chiu
Marika Brussel, ODC instructor and freelance choreographer, takes notes while watching her ODC teen lab ballet class students over Zoom during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco, Friday, July 10, 2020.

Have you ever wondered what the person on the other side of the screen thinks of your home during a Zoom meeting? Until now, a lot of us haven't.For many, 2020 will forever be known as the year spent mostly indoors and online. Virtual meetings, hangouts, and events played a huge part in staying connected with one another. And those extra hours cooped up at home sparked a desire for individuals to perform new renovations to their homes.

So, it's no surprise interior decorators and designers have experienced an uptick in business since the pandemic started.

Cheryl Magnuson
Credit courtesy
Cheryl Magnuson

Cheryl Magnuson, owner of Majestic Interior Design In Bloomington, thinks the recent increase in business is coming from people spending their time at home more than anywhere else.

"Everyone has been at home, they are in their rooms trying to make their offices look nice. They are trying to make their dining rooms and offices and on top of that people are redoing kitchens. We have never done so many kitchen and bathroom remodels," Magnuson said. "Because people are, they're not traveling, right? Because they're not spending (on) those large ticket items. They're like, this is the year we're going to put that backyard patio in, or redo our kitchen or bathroom."

Theresa Mosely owns The Refined Cottage in Bloomington. She said many customers are investing in their homes because the pandemic has forced them to cancel travel plans--and that has kept her busy.

“All of their summer vacations were either postponed or canceled, so they had extra money that they wanted to put into their home,” she said.

Theresa Mosley portrait
Theresa Mosley

Mosley said business has been so brisk, it’s been a challenge for her working mostly part-time with a newborn at home. She said clients have to book several months out.

However, Magnuson also said the pandemic isn't a boon for interior decorating, necessarily. COVID-19's impact on factories and production companies has led to less product becoming available.

"Even working here in town with a local furniture store, it's been one of their best years ever," she said. "The thing is, it's so busy that they're really backed up. You have factories that have COVID shutdowns and requirements, restrictions. So everything's gonna slow down in the industry, as far as like getting products." 

While doing things virtually and from the comfort of your home has its benefits, it also has drawbacks. Communicating via screen has been known to create insecurities in people--both about how they personally appear on camera, but also how their home appears.

Mellisa Phillips, a design consultant at Bella Grove in Peoria, has some advice on how to create the best presentation on camera.

"Lighting is obviously important. And you want to have the lighting in front of you not behind you. It's actually better if you sit kind of straight onto a wall. Don't have your camera shooting into a corner; actually have a wall behind you," Phillips said. "The main thing is really just kind of get some kind of depth or dimension back there. So if you have a bookcase, or bookshelves, or a fireplace, that will help give it some interest."

Kathy Crank, co-owner of Lippman’s Furniture and Interiors in Peoria, said soundproofing a room also is conducive for holding the best virtual meetings.

"We would recommend you try to soundproof your room to a degree, which from an interior standpoint, a lot of the homes today have hard surfaces on the floor, whether it's wood or a vinyl of some sort," Crank said. "So you would put a rug in that area, fabrics will help absorb sound that might be background noise when you're having a meeting."

Phillips also recommends avoiding too many personal items on display in the background of a meeting.

"We would probably suggest that you maybe stay away from anything too personal. If it's a business situation that you're having a meeting, you don't necessarily want to have lots of family photos or anything too political or too personal that some people might get uncomfortable staring at that behind you," Phillips said.

Magnuson thinks the virtual world in which we are currently living is going to continue to benefit the interior design business.

"I think it's actually going to be good because we've been pushed to this world of Zoom and virtual. So that's going to mean it's easier for us to do long distance," Magnuson said. "Condos, for example. We have clients that have condos in Chicago. They move out of state and they want our help from there. So now we're all comfortable with Zoom, and I think it's going to be even more potential for business."

Each of the women said people should feel comfortable and enjoy where they spend most of their time. For a lot of us right now, that place is our home, though Mosley said she understands the added focus on home décor may be short-lived for some.

“I just want people to be happy and I think vacationing makes people happy,” Mosely said. “As much as I want to make people’s home beautiful, I also want people to get out and see the world.”

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Olivia Streeter is the WCBU Summer Intern.
Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.