Perhaps it’s time to upgrade your home office accessories.
Well, that’s it. The workplace as we know it has changed — perhaps permanently — from a vast landscape of bland cubicles to half your kitchen table. You roll out of bed three and a half seconds before your 8 a.m. Zoom meeting, turn off your camera and claim it’s broken so people can’t see that your hair looks like it’s trying to escape. Every time your spouse opens the door to the fridge for a Diet Coke, your sound cuts out, which you attribute to elves, because, seriously, it’s the only thing that makes sense.
And all of this mess is starting to get on your nerves because you’re a professional and this (sweep arms in a tight circle in your kitchen to indicate gross) is not a home office.
Don’t You Deserve More From a Home Office?
Yes. Adding on to your existing home is a great idea. Just grab the nearest architect and tell them you want a Frank Lloyd Wright-cum-Amish Farmhouse 400-square-foot space with an excellent view and, oh, wait a minute, you live in a condo.
Look, even if you’ve always had a home office in a spare bedroom or basement corner, chances are you never expected it to be your actual office — and chances are it’s equipped like a middle-school A.V. club. You’re spending a lot of time there. Hell, you may spend the rest of your career sitting in the kitchen, muted on Zoom. So make your working space as professional and refined as yourself by upgrading your gear and adding a dash of sophisticated luxurious whimsy with the following stuff.
A Few Zoom-Ready Home Office Accessories
Teleconferencing is the new normal, so why do you sound like you’re taking an order at a White Castle in a hurricane and spend half the conference gesticulating in wild pantomime to let your boss know you can’t hear her?
Treat yourself to a decent mic and pro-level headphones because sound quality is a new vertical in personal performance and you won’t look like a mime having a seizure.
Your Home Office Needs a Blue Yeti
It looks kind of like those old microphones from the ’50s for a good reason. Those old mics were a gold standard for sound quality and so is the Blue Yeti USB microphone. The Yeti is like four high-quality microphones in one. Under the iconic protective mesh is a tri-capsule array delivering four different polar patterns: cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional and stereo. And no, I don’t know what any of those mean, but professional podcasters and Zoom freaks assure me they matter. A lot. The Yeti sports a feature missing from most desktop USB mics: a gain control knob that adjusts the mic’s sensitivity so you can turn your home office into a radio booth.
Goes Great With … a Behringer Q502 Mini Mixer
Even though the Yeti has incredible sound, you can make your voice sound even better with a mixer. This tiny mixing board from Behringer plugs right into your laptop USB and lets you tweak your vocals until you sound like James Earl Jones (you might need this adaptor).
Bose 35II Noise-Canceling Luxurious Headphones
Listen, we’re friends now, right? You’ve been reading this column for a couple of years. I can share with you. I can reveal details of my personal life that are relevant to a story and you probably won’t go “eew” or report me to Twitter, so here goes: I have a close, personal, intimate relationship with my Bose 35II Noise-Canceling Headphones.
My wife got them for me two years ago and I haven’t taken them off since. I use them for phone calls, Zoom meetings, watching TV so the sound doesn’t interfere with my wife’s work — which is mostly yelling. I wear them on airplanes, in the library, and sometimes I wear them for no reason, turned off entirely, just so people won’t bother me. All of these reasons are good enough to buy these home office headphones, but in the end, they are a device designed to deliver high-quality sound. Nothing proves that more than opening Spotify and dialing up Bach’s Cello Suites performed by Yo-Yo Ma or diving deep into the Radiohead songbook and tearing into the daily grind with a soundtrack played right into your earholes with precision and style.
Goes Great With … a Neewer Lighting Rig
Great sound is important but so is good lighting and I’ve seen you on your Zoom calls and, no, I haven’t because apparently, you’re broadcasting from a steamer trunk. This is another of the new professional image hacks that will matter in the new normal. The Neewer dual lighting rig is inexpensive, easy to use, and comes with color gels in case you need to add some blue to your image. Good lighting will make you look as good as you sound. And you’ll stand out from the other Zoomers who look like blurry Sasquatch photos.
The Pendulux Geneva Phone Stand
OK, so this isn’t necessary, but come on, look at this thing! It’s so cool — way cooler than the oversize coffee cup you’re stuffing your phone into right now. You’re spending more time staring into your phone than ever as your colleagues and friends Zoom you for every little thing and frankly, sometimes you need to use your computer while you’re yelling at Contracts about the Korea thing. So treat yourself to a stylish phone stand like the Geneva from Pendulux because, look at it. It is both Post-Industrial Machine Age and Steampunk — yet it’s not a trifle of style. The Geneva stand is based on an old watchmaker’s tool. It is a precise and sturdy thing of brass and stainless steel weighing nearly a pound that will crouch on your desk like a furious little robot to obediently hold your phone.
Goes Great With … the Leonardo Table Lamp
The value of a lamp is not entirely in its luminescence but rests partially in the effect it has on you as you sit down at your desk and turn it on. Walking into your office to behold this architectural masterpiece will add value to your day and it’s good-looking enough that you’ll brag about it.
You want to invest in a desk lamp or task lamp so that you can see what you’re doing and so others can see you’re doing OK in the stylish lamp department. One more reason: Similarly luxe table lamp options may include useful USB ports or wireless chargers, like these at Rejuvenation Hardware and on Amazon (where my editor has her eye on this brass Elizabeth lamp with a wireless USB charger and ambient lighting).
A Few Swoon-Worthy Luxury Home Office Accessories
The Iris Compass
You don’t need this. In no part of an attorney’s job description does it bullet point a skill like “drawing perfect circles.” But, if it did, this would be your instrument of choice. And yes, I know compasses exist, I went to grade school. They don’t matter anymore. Compasses are passé. For drawing brilliant, suave circles, you need the Iris Compass from Maker’s Cabinet.
And to be clear, to reiterate, to overemphasize a point — this is an unnecessary luxury. You might never even use it, but if a colleague ever bests you with their background library in Zoom, you can just twirl it around your finger on camera and suddenly you’re the rock star.
Goes Great With … a Lignes Urbaines Mechanical Pencil
A mechanical pencil is as much an aesthetic keepsake as a fountain pen. If you’re gonna be drawing circular objects with your Iris, you should do it with panache by using a Caran d’Arche “Lignes Urbaines” gilded mechanical pencil. The brass barrel is etched with an architectural guilloche pattern that makes gripping it a joy. It’s push-button operated. It’s smooth as silk. It’s heavy and machined by eldritch wizards under a mountain in Switzerland (I looked this up).
Høvel Pencil Plane for Home Office Høveling
If, however, like myself you prefer your pencils made from wood, you’ll need to sharpen them sometimes. I have a thing for pencil sharpeners. I keep thinking I’ve found the coolest, most stylish, most ridiculously well-engineered sharpening machine and then I find a new one, like the Hovel Pencil Plane, which is so cool, so stylish, so ridiculously well engineered I come perilously close to swooning.
Most sharpeners — even the really good ones — use rotation. You shove your pencil into a hole, then twist it until the thing is sharp. Breaking the lead is pretty common, as is getting a sliver of graphite jammed into the bottom of the sharpening well, making it a less-than-effective paperweight. But the Høvel is different. The word means “plane,” as in a woodworker’s tool, and it works exactly like that. It is a small, heavy, brass wood plane with a ninja-sharp blade. Instead of twisting your pencil, you gently pull the tip across the razor. Your lead is never in danger. And … it’s … gloriously analog. But look, don’t take my word for it. Listen to this guy crush.
Goes Great With … Uni Penmanship Pencils
If you’re looking to level up in the pencil department — and since you’ll need something to sharpen on your Hovel — this is the pen of choice. The Uni Penmanship Writing Pencil is not that expensive. You can get them at Jet Pens for $5 for three or poke around on Amazon.
But the luxury here isn’t about the price, it’s about the experience. The Uni was engineered specifically to facilitate the drawing of Japanese letters because the soft (but strong) graphite allows for variation in the width of a stroke. They’re treasured by artists and writers and share a wee bit of cult status, much like the Blackwing 602.
Jac Zagoory Atlas Pencil Holder
Once you’ve finished drawing circles or sharpening your top-shelf pencils, you’ll need to put them away and your desk drawer is not suitable. It’s crammed with bent paperclips and X-Acto blades and crumpled sticky notes — and that’s not the kind of place you want to raise your writing instruments. No, you want a gorgeous sculpture by Jac Zagoory, like this Atlas Pen Holder. It’s over the top. It looks like something you inherited from a distant grand uncle who was a robber baron in the roaring ’20s. But it adds a note of precision, a sense of purpose to the use of your favored writing instrument.
If you pay good money for a pen that’s a status symbol, then treat it like one.
Goes Great With … Letterpress Note Cards
I’m kind of crazy about sending handwritten cards, and you should be too. Especially during the pandemic, when we’re all shut in and getting weird and longing for a sense of connection, receiving a card in the mail with a special note written just for you is marvelous and touching and, look, I’m not crying, I have pencil shavings in my eye. Shut up. But don’t just send any card, you’re a titan of professional éclat. Get your own custom letterpress cards printed by Ladyfingers Letterpress because they are amazing and will thereby make you also amazing.
Editor’s Pick: Neighborhood is an online network of local businesses that allows you to “shop local” for gifts and paper goods from around the country. So you can efficiently shop for Ladyfingers cards at Milwaukee’s Broadway Paper and a new mug from Sleepless in Laguna Beach, Calif.
Surround Yourself With What You Love
Look, I know none of this is required for your home office.
But, yes, it is. You should invest in quality technology for your home office. You should spend on tools that are a joy to use and will last forever. If they make you smile, you should have a luxurious lamp and a pencil holder and a phone stand that are beautiful. Because you’re going to look at them every day.