Cabinets with glass doors can cause a reflection when video calling, and the simplest solution is to open the doors and show off its insides. (Photo: Handout/TNS).

As the warm weather welcomes us into the summer months and our cities begin to open back up (safely and slowly we hope!), it has become clear that some of the changes from the last few months are here to stay. Some have produced a new set of challenges for us to work through, such as creating a productive home office space or turning our bedrooms into spaces fully dedicated to relaxation. A couple weeks ago I received a phone call from one of our lovely customers who had come across a new home decor challenge for us. Like many of us during the time of COVID, she has been using video services like Zoom and FaceTime more than ever, and in doing so discovered her desire for a better background.

What makes the perfect video chat background?
As I tune into the news to watch at-home reporting and chat with my family and friends, I have noticed certain elements work better than others, and that clutter creates a noisy environment that makes it hard to concentrate on the person speaking. While there is no foolproof recipe for the perfect backdrop, you can take some steps to project your style through a camera lens.

Reflect your style, not your screen
First and foremost, avoid reflective surfaces behind you while video chatting. Mirrors are the biggest offender of projecting your screen back into your camera, but windows and shiny metal decor items can create problems by reflecting light and creating a glare. Cabinets with glass doors can also contribute, and the simplest solution is to open the doors and show off its insides. It’s a great excuse to rework and refresh those shelves and show off your favorite pieces.

Simplify, then beautify
Now that pesky reflections are taken care of, it’s time for the fun. Bringing your style into your space without creating a distracting backdrop is all about editing. This is the same technique we use at the store to show off our goodies. If you’re working with shelves, one of our (sometimes controversial) methods is to turn around books to create a neutral canvas for styled items to pop against. While this is not a method loved by all (which I understand, I too adore colorful books!), it creates a quiet backdrop that still looks beautiful. Sans shelves, a gallery wall can create a stunning visual as well. A display of art can be full of texture and depth without overwhelming your space. Stick with canvases for less glare.

Let there be light
There’s a reason so many selfie sessions take place in the car: all that great natural light. If you have a space in your home with fabulous natural light (and space to work), make it your go-to Zoom spot. If you can, avoid sitting right in front of a window, regardless of whether the window is to your front or back. Sunny days can make your screen hard to see, and backlighting can make you hard to see for your workmates. Of course, we love lamps when natural light is not an option, just try to avoid placing it too close to your camera.

Practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempt at the perfect video setting doesn’t pan out – it is easy to fix.

By Katie Laughridge, Tribune News Service. Adapted from Katie Laughridge is the owner of Kansas City interior design destination Nell Hill’s. For more information, contact Katie at [email protected].