It has been over a year since our meetings left the office and ventured into our own homes via virtual conferencing platforms, primarily Zoom.
At first, it was fun to play with different effects and green screens, but even that little excitement passed. Digital backgrounds can make your hair look strange, and sudden arm movements can distort the image or make it disappear entirely. In the end, it’s just easier and more professional to stick to your actual background. People notice.
This was verified when, at the beginning of the pandemic, the Twitter account Room Evaluator went viral for rating Zoom funds from politicians and commentators. For example, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, earned a 10/10 for his plants and display of signed baseballs, while the senator from New Jersey. Cory BookerThe meager white wall got a 3/10 for “gives off real hostage video vibes.”
All this to say that just as we need to present ourselves in a certain way at our meetings, our funds serve the same purpose of radiating professionalism and personality.
4 ways to create backgrounds with real zoom
Not all of us have access to the amount of money Room Rater subjects have to work with. Regardless, though, there are still plenty of ways to make a statement on a budget and have fun doing it. Here are four ways to do just that:
1. Wrapping paper as “wallpaper”
There are two types of people in this world: those who hire a professional to hang beautiful wallpapers, and those who rent. Like many others, I belong to the latter category. But even tenants can be decorators by choosing fancy wrapping paper to turn into a Zoom backdrop.
Of course, to achieve this, you need a wall, a cabinet, or maybe even a refrigerator quite close behind where you normally work to use it as a canvas.
Yes, there is a removable wallpaper option, but the application is difficult and depending on the brand, it can cost hundreds of dollars. Also, I’d be nervous that it doesn’t come off my rented wall as easily as it claims.
A stable but temporary replacement is wrapping paper. You might even have a December roll or two left that you could use, if it’s not too holiday-focused. Regardless, even the best wrapping paper rolls cost a lot less than actual wallpaper or removable wallpaper, and they look just as good.
- Wrapping paper with enough square footage to cover the area your webcam sees
- Two-sided tape
- (Possibly) Thumbtacks – I bought these and ended up using only two.
- Pair of scissors
- Stretch your first roll of paper and fold it over the top to create a crisp line. Glue the fold down and apply small strips of tape to the top two feet of the roll.
- Place the first panel on top of the intended wall part and press down. You may need a sturdy chair or stepladder for this.
- Under that panel, add masking tape to the paper for the next foot, then press it down on the wall from the top, being careful to keep it smooth. Repeat this process along the wall until you reach the baseboard or the floor.
- Reverse the fold and use masking tape to tuck in the extra paper. Tape to the wall.
- Repeat the process until your area is full.
2. Ivy vine wall or faux flower
Displaying DIY greenery and flowers behind you on Zoom calls adds an aura of creativity and freshness that all supervisors want their employers to have. You can carefully choose the flowers to complement the colors of the walls or other furniture. They might say something about you: sunflowers for your sunny disposition or wisteria to represent your ethereal nature.
There are many sources online for buying fake greenery. Look for “artificial flower strands.” Measure the area you want to decorate to make sure what you buy is long enough.
There are two routes you can take with this trick: flowers or vines. I chose the green ivy. I bought a $ 9 pack of 12 fake ivy vines, which I tucked under a funky needlepoint I found at a thrift store.
This is how it turned out:
I added the kitsch art to give the green a pop of color, but if you go the flower route, you really don’t need anything else.
3. Framed album covers
For centuries, music has been a tried and true conversation starter. Take advantage of this by artistically displaying your favorite albums. Many of us (or our parents) have old LPs that often collect dust.
Pick your favorites (or if you want to be a fan, your bosses’ favorites) and frame them. If you don’t already have albums on hand, it’s worth going to your local thrift store, where they usually cost no more than $ 10 a piece, depending on the rarity. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, try eBay. I had fun looking for covers that expressed my sensitivity.
For a more consistent look, choose a theme: albums from the same band, albums from the same genre, or albums from the same decade. I have a predilection for movie soundtracks, so I was looking for albums of movie scores from that decade. The brighter and more technically colored the cover, the better.
I didn’t need to search far to find three perfect albums, together they only cost about $ 15. Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn curtain, The graduate (with the infamous stockinged leg of Mrs. Robinson), and Valley of the dolls, with doomed star Sharon Tate on the cover. In case you don’t remember, Tate was assassinated by a member of the Charles Manson cult in 1969 =
The 12.5-by-12.50-inch frames made specifically for LPs are available online and at craft stores, but the least expensive I found were at Michaels for just $ 6.49.
Because I needed to fill a wide space, I hung my frames horizontally. For a Zoom background, you will want to display them vertically.
4. Bring Mother Nature Inside
I don’t think I’m the only one to say that there was an early period in the pandemic where I tried to have my meetings outdoors. The weather was nice, I hoped the fresh air would make me more alert and the natural light was flattering.
For those benefits, there were also the incessant supernaturally noisy mermaids, birds, and insects waiting to bite. Fortunately, there is a way to compromise. I brought my favorite part from the outside to the inside. The air conditioning was also a draw.
An easy way to show both your harmony with nature and your decorating skills is to decorate behind you with classic pressed flower art. You can find a few in Hobby Lobby for relatively little, but frankly the selections are pretty sparse and basic in appearance.
You can create the pressed flower art yourself and make the design exactly what you like. After all, getting your hands a little dirty is a huge part of the cottagecore aesthetic after all. You will need some supplies that can be easily found at the drugstore for a few dollars, but you probably already have them around the house (and garden).
- Flowers / petals previously pressed *
- Wax paper
- Elmer’s Craft Binding Stick
- Transparent liquid bonding glue
- Pair of scissors
- Heavy cardstock or watercolor paper
* You don’t need a complete flower press kit to get the same effect. Choose the flowers you like and cut the stem at an angle, trimming the excess leaves. Place the flowers between two pieces of wax paper and place them inside the pages of the heaviest book you can find. After two to three weeks, the flowers will be dry. Use tweezers to remove them from the waxed paper and transfer them to a card stock or whatever it is that will attach them to the frame.
- If necessary, trim the paper / cardstock to fit the frames.
- For smaller flowers / petals, a coat of standard glue stick should be fine. For older children, bonding or craft glue is safer.
- Layer the flowers however you like and let them dry overnight.
- Frame, hang, and impress your co-workers.
Olivia Smith is a writer based in Washington, DC, who has experience in public and political advocacy work. She is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.