blue wallpapered office
Courtesy of Chasing Paper

“That’s what air mattresses are for,” David Quarles told himself when he decided to turn the spare bedroom in his Memphis house into an office. The multi-hyphenate (he is a jewelry maker, Zumba instructor, and interior designer) was forced to take his career(s) home when the monthly rent for the downtown studio space he was using spiked—and that was before COVID hit and it became the norm to WFH

For a cool minute, the former bedroom served all three of his professional pursuits: It’s where he took Zoom meetings with clients, soldered necklaces, and broke a sweat. “It was getting to be too much,” recalls Quarles. After building a separate gym outside, he focused on creating an equally good-looking and functional office where he could go from preparing a jewelry shipment to assembling a mood board in a flash. “I definitely feel like if you’re going to choose to work from home, why not make it feel like an escape?” he says. Ahead, Quarles shares four ways he made the room do overtime.

Fight the Midday Slump With Vibrant Walls 

blue wlalpapered office
Courtesy of Chasing Paper

Covering all four walls in Chasing Paper’s Mud Cloth peel-and-stick wallpaper was as much a practical decision as it was a personal one. “I like to design from what my history is, where my family comes from, so I wanted something that spoke to the African side of my ancestry,” he explains. The 3D-like effect of the print (it almost looks like an actual textile hanging on the wall) helps detract from the fact that the original surface behind the treatment is textured—and not in a good way. “It masks the bumps,” he points out.


Designate a Hiding Spot for the End of the Day

white storage bin on desk
Courtesy of Chasing Paper

Desk storage was particularly key for Quarles, who had previously relied on a basic white sawhorse table from IKEA as his workstation. The tabletop, naturally, always looked cluttered. “I need a place where I can shove some tools when I don’t feel like doing a full cleanup at night,” he shares. The Living Spaces piece he opted for his jewelry zone (both desks are from the brand’s Hollis collection) features a deep cubby where he can toss his soldering tools. That way, when he walks in the next morning, he doesn’t instantly feel overwhelmed. It also helps that all his beads and metal components are neatly organized (and color-coded) in semitransparent boxes on the shelves—an upgrade from the crates that used to live on the floor. 

Use Greenery as Cord Camouflage

cane chair in corner
Courtesy of Chasing Paper
mid century wood desk
Courtesy of Chasing Paper

The pegboard above Quarles’s jewelry-making station keeps his most-used tweezers and pliers in arm’s reach, but to make the flat white catchall look more worthy of hanging against the blue backdrop, he incorporated decorative elements like a little rechargeable picture light and plant clippings. Across the room, at his interior design desk setup, a small pothos plant is situated in front of the router to disguise the unsightly tech.

Turn Up the Volume on Your Lighting

man sitting at desk
Courtesy of Chasing Paper

To help his clients pinpoint their design style, Quarles will often ask them to identify a song (or playlist) they’d imagine themself listening to in the room to try to get at the overall vibe they want to achieve. “Music is very much an influential part of my process,” he says. Naturally, when he’s deep into putting together contracts and pulling samples, he’ll throw on some tunes for himself to help stay motivated and inspired. The reason you don’t see a big black box around? His speaker is in the task lamp. “It’s a lightbulb speaker—and it’s very loud,” he admits.