These Families Are Stuck at Home During Covid, but Have Plenty of Places to Go

Although Kit Chua and her husband had lived in their Chicago home for several years, she’d never set up her home office properly. Once the pandemic hit, and Ms. Chua, an education consultant, was forced to work from home, where her husband was also working and their two daughters, ages 9 and 12, were engaged in remote school, it became clear that she needed a viable office setup.

When Ms. Chua, 46, hired interior designer Alice Benjamin to help design her office last spring, she realized that there were other spaces in the home that also needed attention. “Our living and dining room had become the kids’ space over the years,” says Ms. Chua. “It can be pretty stressful to have the biggest and best space in your home filled with kids’ stuff especially during a pandemic.” Ms. Benjamin created a plan in which the tucked-away family room was transformed into a study and hang-out zone for the girls while the dining and living room got a dramatic refresh. The overall project cost roughly $250,000.

Ms. Benjamin took cues from commercial workspaces for the design of the girls’ area where she incorporated rectangular booths fitted with cushions. “The kids each have one where they can stretch out or sit up and do their schoolwork at writing desks positioned in front,” says Ms. Benjamin. Sconces illuminate the cocoon-like booths and charging stations ensure there is always a spot to plug in. Colorful cubbies nailed to the wall provide storage and the walls are covered in cloud wallpaper.

In the living room, a movie screen and projector were installed along with a custom sectional. “We weren’t a big TV-watching family before Covid,” says Ms. Chua. “But now that we have such a nice screen, we watch a lot of shows and movies all together.” Additionally, Ms. Chua’s Peloton software hooks up to the projector and while in quarantine during the colder months, the family has been doing yoga. “When the kids are home for remote school and I need to be their P.E. teacher, we do dance cardio,” she says.

Ms. Chua says her office, equipped with a desk at which she can either sit or stand, is now her dream space. It has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a sliding ladder. To expand the workspace, Ms. Benjamin transformed the adjacent room into a room where Ms. Chua participates in podcasts and video conferences. Dry-erase paint turned the walls into a blank canvas that she uses to map out ideas; the girls also enjoy writing on the walls and doing school projects at the adjustable table in the room where they can spin on swivel stools.


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