Work it

When I work from home, I have to be comfortable. I don’t mean staying in my pjs and eating toast at my desk (although, occasionally, that’s a thing), I’m talking calm and luxurious surroundings that help get my thinking juices going and make me feel chilled. I’m not saying this makes me any more productive, but it definitely makes me happy to go to work. Well, most days!

Here are some of the little things that, for me, help me handle the big things.

Red velvet antique chair – a slightly faded, slightly tatty family heirloom that’s way comfier than any office chair I’ve ever sat on, and there have been a few over the years, as my backside will testify!

Edwardian lady’s kneehole desk – this is a small version of the classic desk, so it doesn’t take up too much space. It’s cherrywood and I got it off Ebay for £300. It has earned its keep a hundred times over.

Tall lamp – forget twisty little desk lamps, they take up valuable workspace; a lofty lamp, throwing a golden glow down onto your work area, will, literally, put a better light on things. This plain, brushed bronze lamp-stand was from TK Maxx, the pleated-silk shade, Laura Ashley. A soft-tone bulb will suffice as the light from your screen will do the rest.

Textured fabrics – toss cushions and throws over any spare seating. I use multi-textured throws and cushions on my little leather sofa from M&S. I love the clash of soft velvet (M&S), deep Indian tapestry (actual Goa) and coarse, recycled wool (throw, National Trust shop). I find stroking them helps me think. Maybe that’s just me.

Gallery Red walls – Farrow & Ball’s iconic shade changes with the light. I worried it would be too dark, but it is just perfect. Summer or winter, and at night it makes me feel all snuggly and cocooned.

Glam storage – storing needn’t be boring. Ditch plastic pots and dusty trays for a bit of glamour. These ’30s-style decorative deco boxes in faux (of course) ivory came from John Lewis.

Floral fragrance – I love fresh flowers, like roses, peonies and jasmine, so in winter I use scented candles. My favourite at the moment is the wonderfully powerful Champagne Rose by Ninety Six. Two words: divine, darling!

Culture – ‘books do furnish a room’ as the old saying goes and I agree. Ditto artwork. Modern or traditional, the choice is yours, but surrounding yourself with creative works can be inspiring. My book collection is eclectic and my most-treasured picture (apart from my children’s drawings of me with tree eyes and elephantine legs) is an elaborately-framed, surrealist fantasy, done by my husband’s best man as a wedding present.



Be more Sherlock 

Want to look effortlessly cool? Take a leaf out of Benedict Cumberbatch’s book. He wears that Sherlock TV wardrobe so well.

Most of the pieces are classic British brands, or top-end designer, yet the way he wears them makes them so low-key.

The coat is the hot-ticket item. It just makes everything else work and, with its red-stitched buttonhole, looks a little bit street, a little bit edgy. It’s by Belstaff, but Ben’s model is no longer available. The new version – The Milford, £1,095 – is a perfect substitute. Never button it up. Ever.

The Jaxon & James grey tweed deerstalker is an altogether trickier number. You’ll need a strong jaw and a thick skin to traipse confidently down the high street in this. But if you’re going the whole hog, it’s essential and costs just over £20. Do not untie the bow at any time. You’ll look stupid.

Hand-made brogues – goes without saying. Black, punched, laced, good leather. Scuffed is good. Scuffed is very good.

Beautifully-cut shirts are key. They should look unimportant, plain, relaxed and a little bit crumpled. Open-neck. Always. Black, white, grey, possibly claret? Dolce & Gabanna’s work. £235 Selfridges/Harrods.

Mulberry wool scarf. Non-primary colour. No pattern. Cashmere, naturally. £195.

Dents hand-sewn, lambswool lined Oxford Leather Gloves. Black, of course. £64.95.


Belstaff Milford-trench-black

deerstalkler jaxon & james £21.95

Deerstalkler Jaxon & James £21.95

cheaneyhand made brogue £350

Cheaney hand-made brogue £350.

D&G shirt £235

D&G shirt £235


D&G shirt £235



Mulberry cashmere scarf