Before the coronavirus pandemic, homeowners would boast about an in-home sauna, pricey new pavers on the patio, or an enormous flat-screen TV with surround sound installed in the den.
But this is 2020! We’re still living with the repercussions of COVID-19, which means the hottest new trend in home features isn’t a fancy finish or in-demand appliance. Instead, it’s the Zoom room: a dedicated space in your house where you can easily and comfortably attend videoconference calls with co-workers, help the kids log on for remote schooling, or enjoy virtual check-ins with family.
In fact, some real estate agents and sellers are actually touting Zoom rooms in their listings.
“The shift to working from home has brought with it a surge of demand for Peloton space, dedicated home offices, and, yes, Zoom rooms that are more than just an Ikea desk and chair,” says Cedric Stewart, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties.
If you’re wondering what the heck a Zoom room is and how to create this space in your own home, we’ve got you covered. Say bye-bye to those wacky virtual backgrounds on Zoom, and hello to a great-looking, peaceful space where you can take calls and be productive.
What is a Zoom room?
A Zoom room is a designated spot where you can switch on your webcam and engage in virtual meetings for work or remote hangouts with family and friends. This spot is typically designed to look professional and features an attractive and organized background.
But if you’re short on space and can’t dedicate a full room to Zoom, don’t despair. A videoconferencing area can also be a sliver of space under your stairs or in the living room, dining area, or foyer.
1. Dedicate an area
First and foremost: A successful Zoom meeting requires strong Wi-Fi, so be sure your space allows you to have a good internet connection. You can also invest in a signal booster to improve your connection, or you can hardwire in with an ethernet cable.
To make sure you’re able to maintain focus, you want this dedicated area to be in a quiet location, away from the main part of the house, if possible, says Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP.
If you have a nook under the stairs, an alcove in your bedroom, or a section of the dining room to set up shop, these spots are worthy.
No privacy in the house? Try a folding screen to divide your space and create a little work zone for video calls.
2. Keep clutter at bay
Remember, your boss or an important client might be on your next Zoom call, which means you really shouldn’t have a pile of clothes or unwashed dishes directly over your shoulder when you’re on camera.
“Keep personal objects, laundry, and toys out of camera view as people tend to judge you on Zoom the way they would in person,” says Gray-Plaisted.
3. Curate your background
Your background should be organized and officelike, but you can also infuse it with decor that means something to you.
“A great look is a carefully styled shelf featuring your favorite books and a few simple accessories—just nothing too dramatic or over the top, which can be distracting,” says Drew Henry of Design Dudes.
Gray-Plaisted recommends objects such as vases, bowls, or candles.
And when it comes to paint color, err on the conservative side.
“The more neutral it is, the better for Zoom, unless you’re in a creative field where you can project personal taste,” says Gray-Plaisted.
4. Light it right
Lighting is absolutely key in a Zoom room lest you look wan and washed out or shadowy and creepy.
“Arrange your space so there’s a window next to you or in front of you as this will offer you the right amount of natural light to make you look great on camera,” says Henry.
As for task lighting, keep it about a foot or so away from your screen so you avoid unnecessary glare. Some people even opt for a ring light ($36.98, Amazon) or a miniature light that mounts onto your computer ($69.95, Lume Cube) to give them a radiant glow on video calls.
5. Upgrade your chair
An adjustable ergonomic chair allows you to sit comfortably during the workday, but it can also help ensure your face is in the right spot so you’re seen and heard on your Zoom calls.
If you’re sitting too high, you’ll be looking down on your screen—and too low is even worse. (You’ll have to tip your chin up, and this can hurt your neck if the meeting runs long.)
Consider a chair with wheels or casters to make any sliding or moving you’ll need to do midmeeting smooth and silent, whether to reach for a pen or folder—or your much needed cup of coffee.
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