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Zoom Rooms & TikTok Studios, Oh My!

When Ric Bucher, a television and radio basketball commentator and writer who is a familiar face on Fox Sports, finished a roughly $40,000 office remodel in his Half Moon Bay, Calif., home, he wondered if it was worth it. His workspace, completed about three years ago, was soundproofed, professionally wired, attractively lit, and rigged with professional-grade cameras and microphones. The idea was that if he ever needed to record a podcast or tape a television segment from home, he could.

“It was a very expensive proposition, and we asked, ‘are we doing the right thing?’ ” Mr. Bucher, 59, said of conversations with his wife, Corrine Bucher. Then the pandemic hit. Now Mr. Bucher is able to tape and record studio-quality segments for national Fox Sports shows and for his podcast. “There is no question that it has been a huge benefit to my career,” he said.

Mr. Bucher’s renovation, with its focus on making him look and sound good on camera, may have once seemed specific to his unique profession. But today, developers and home builders believe that the future, even after the virus is under control, will involve a lot more work from home, videoconferencing, and remote collaborating.

To accommodate this new landscape, they are crossing out blueprints that allocated space to movie theaters, game rooms, or lounges, and are using the square footage for co-working spaces, Zoom-call rooms, podcast recording areas and TikTok studios. They are wiring garden areas and pool decks with commercial-grade Wi-Fi and USB ports, and designing in-home offices with separate entrances, soundproofing and souped-up air filtration.

And while some city denizens are abandoning multiunit living for the moment, developers are betting that those who remain, and those who return, will be attracted to a package of work-from-home amenities.

The Look-, Sound- and Feel-Good Home Office
Space10 Interiors in Half Moon Bay, Calif., designed the Buchers’ home office. Here are co-owner Jennifer Glynn’s best tips for creating an office for today’s work-from-home life. Prices are approximate.

1. Install low-tech soundproofing

“Buy a wool rug with extra-thick padding to put under it. Install a solid-core door. Hang heavy drapes—even if you never pull them closed,” says Ms. Glynn.

2. Use flattering lighting for video

“Ric has two lights on stands that sit in the corner ready when he needs them,” which he uses to eliminate shadows on his face during broadcasts, Ms. Glynn says. These, and dimmable ring lights that light the face from all angles, are available from companies specializing in this issue.

3. Create a backdrop

The door to Mr. Bucher’s office is painted the same dark blue color (Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball Paint in Estate Emulsion) as the rest of the walls. This dark tone absorbs bright afternoon light, says Ms. Glynn, and offers a flattering backdrop on video.

4. Alert the family

Outside Mr. Bucher’s office door is an “On Air” sign he can activate by remote control, signaling to the family the need for quiet. This could be handy for any family juggling Zooms and important calls needing quiet.


5. Design for the long haul

Mr. Bucher moves around throughout the day between a stool at his built-in desk, a leather loveseat, and built-in bench under the windows. With people spending long hours in home offices, a variety of work spaces helps combat cabin fever, Ms. Glynn said.