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News Underfoot

March 10, 2022

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By Nancy McKeon

I WENT TO Staples on Tuesday and bought . . . staples. No joke. Also a stapler.

What I didn’t buy was a mat to put under my desk chair. I’m sure the mats they had on offer were fine for protecting either carpeting or bare wood under that desk chair with serious wheels or casters. But they sure did nothing to project a sense of style into the whole Work From Home thing. Some were clear vinyl, others wood-look. Nothing in the least interesting.

And really, shouldn’t most things/people at least try to be interesting?

Turns out a few companies and retailers agree. While most of us know about the cute, colorful desktop tools and toys from companies like Poppin, a few companies are targeting the unexplored territory under the desk. (And, for all those ads showing smiling people cuddling with their laptops on cushy sofas, I’d wager that most serious work gets done at a home desk or table.)

Mats for under a rolling desk chair have a few requirements. Sturdiness for sure. And they can’t have much of a pile, so the wheels of commerce can keep turning. The most common size seems to be three feet by four, so some of the chair mats, though sturdy, fold in half for shipping and even moving around the house. The standard height for pile seems to be ¼ inch, but I don’t think you can just choose any outdoor rug with the same height and call it a day: The felt-like surface counts too.

Here are a few examples I found. I bought a wildly colored Heriz-style mat (okay, I’m being generous about the Heriz part) from Overstock; it was about $120. It sits under my lime-green Go-Cart rolling desk from CB2 (pity, these days it comes only in white or black, $179) and looks wildly inappropriate. Which makes perfect sense to me.


Wayfair.com is coming to your home office’s rescue with this talk-about-lively chair mat from Anji Mountain, right, whose pattern looks like American Indian motifs crossed with subcontinent Indian colors. It’s about $145. If it’s a little too lively for you, scroll down the Wayfair page: Anji Mountain has subtle Oriental and geometric  (left, $133) styles as well, plus there are mats from Kavka Designs (some of them round) and Bungalow Rose.

LEFT: The Rug’d Collection from Anji Mountain features lots of color, left, including the au courant distressed look.

RIGHT: Retailer Ballard Designs sells a lot of home-office desks and handsome wall units, so I guess the lightbulb went off and they recently introduced a desk-chair mat. I love the Antelope pattern, inspired by their signature Antelope Rug, but the mat also comes in a more subdued linen-look Heather pattern and classic gray linen-look Chancey pattern.

The one thing most offices have that home work spaces don’t is one of those raised foot rests. You can find them at places such as Staples and Office Depot, but Humanscale produced something a lot more sleek and inviting for one’s home, this Humanscale Ergonomic Foot Rocker. Available in black or cherry wood veneer, it’s $119 at Crate and Barrel. Your back will thank you.

LEFT: I admit I foresee trouble if the Dodecahedron Sticky Memo Ball comes to live in my home. But it’s so darn cute! It’s $14 at Poppin.com. Twenty-five little sticky pentagonal sheets per side times 12 sides adds up to 300 sheets—plus there’s a “fortune” printed at the bottom of each stack so the dodecahedron won’t go to waste after all the sticky notes are stuck all over the room; the 4½-inch-across ball can be a New Age 8 Ball.

RIGHT: Admit it: You can’t find the stapler on your cluttered desk (or am I projecting?). Poppin’s stapler and tape dispenser duo (I can’t find the tape dispenser either) stick out for sure in aqua. But they’re also available in classic white, blush, dark gray, slate blue and a very sexy sage. The pair is $30.


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2 thoughts on “News Underfoot

  1. Nancy G says:

    You’ve inspired me. I recently created my own desk space in a spare bedroom, but need a chair mat so I don’t wreck the carpet. I’ll start shopping!

    1. Nancy McKeon says:

      I must say the one I bought is not quite the slip-slidey thing that one of those clear vinyl mats would be. but it’s a lot kinder to the wood floor for sure.

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