How to have the best Zoom background

40% of homeowners plan to spend more on improving their homes in 2021 (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Zoom culture isn’t going to let up any time soon sadly, so we may as well make the best of it.

Video calls are awkward: you fumble with the angle of the screen, quickly kick clutter out of view, struggle to find sunlight that doesn’t glare on your glasses… the list goes on.

We’re now in our third national lockdown and the reality is Zoom calls aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

With Marcus by Goldman Sachs finding that 40% of homeowners plan to spend more money on improving their homes in 2021, a good place to start would be in your video calling space to alleviate some of those problems.

So whether you’re Zooming your manager or your date, these are the things you should consider as told by interior design experts.


Lighting can be the make or break.

‘Avoid overhead lighting which can create shadows on your face and look unflattering. Don’t go too bright either – anything on a dimmer switch is always good or a lamp will help,’ says interior designer Emilie Fournet.

Andrew Dunning of London Contemporary suggests getting a portable light. He says: ‘Don’t just whack up your overhead lights, you’ll look washed out. Consider investing in a portable light – they are relatively inexpensive but will give you a perfect glow on the call.’

TV presenter Georgina Burnett doesn’t get any help with her backdrops when she’s live on air – it’s all down to her.

She says positioning is key: ‘Have a window behind the camera, but if the natural source of light is to the side you will need to balance it out with a light on the other side. Never have the window behind you.’


Andrew says you need to question which colours wash you out. He advises that ‘people tend to fade into dark backgrounds so it’s best avoided.’

Interior designer Charlie Greig says go for a pale background ‘with pops of colour to create interest’ – you want to show your personality to a degree.

Georgina backs this up too, saying that she thinks about complementary colours. 

‘Think about what you’re wearing. A striking look can be to stick with black and white in the background and wear a vibrant colour like pink, yellow or orange. [It] ensures the focus is on you.’

If you just want a quick fix with minimal effort, Martin Waller of Andrew Martin says to opt for ‘warm tones to prevent looking cold and washed out. Think pink-hued whites.’


Props can be a subtle way to show your personality. They can be things like books, candles, and artwork.

Emilie says sitting in front of ‘stylised shelves’ are a simple and chic way to spotlight items without them being distracting.

If you’re trying to hide clutter, Charlie says invest in a board on casters so it can be wheeled in any room you’re video calling in, or if you’re trying to inject more personality a bamboo screen has the benefit of folding away.


Dr Katie Cooper, founder of plant company Bloombox Club says plants can help to make for the perfect Zoom backdrop.

‘[Use] large floor plants to block out anything off-putting in the background, along some small to mid size foliage plants with a wide growth habit.’

According to evolutionary theorists, large top-heavy plants and trees make us feel safe and calm, so are a good idea if Zoom leaves you feeling stressed.

The 9am

For work you’ll want your backdrop looking clean and professional – especially if you’re new and this is the first time your colleagues will see you.

‘Nobody can deny they aren’t nosing at any items you have in the background, so choose these wisely. They should reflect the person you want to be if you’re looking to rise up the ladder.

‘You don’t want too much going on as it can be distracting,’ Georgina says.

Any fun but potentially not safe for work holiday photos should be moved, plus take a look at your book shelf and move your copy of The Kama Sutra out of view.

Sit away from a door frame as this will make for a messy backdrop as people use it.

The date

So you got your backdrop professional for work, but now you have a virtual date – then what?

Emilie says: ‘Shelf styling can be a good way to switch from work to home. You can quickly swap a few ornaments and picture frames to make it a bit more relaxed. Display objects that reflect your passions and personality more.

‘Dimming the light can also create a cosier, more personal mood.’

Natasha Bradley, colour expert from Lick Home Interior Design, says: ‘Sitting in front of a bookcase or an open cabinet can let people into your world.

‘Leave space for decorative accessories such as vases, candlesticks, photo frames, even small pieces of art. They’ll offer hints of your personality and your own story for others to relate to.

To look cultured, ‘try stacking books both horizontally and vertically to catch the eye, with trailing plants an easy way to help everything feel organic.’

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