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Room size: 20 m² (215 ft²)
Cost of the setup: ~$2K
Hey, Olivia! Tell us a bit about yourself
Hello. My name is Olivia (Liv for short) and I am a twenty-something art historian with a passion for palaeography, classic heritage and foreign languages.
Born and raised in Italy, I have always dreamt about living abroad, travelling the world and visiting many galleries and museums.
These goals have prompted me to study English, French and German since my early adolescence. Maybe I will be able to finally take up Mandarin Chinese as well, in the foreseeable future.
After receiving my Bachelor Degree in Art and Archaeology, I went to Graduate School where I graduated Summa cum Laude. I am specialised in Middle Ages, although I don’t have a preference when it comes to the discipline.
History has always made sense to me, as a tool to understand myself, my heritage and the world as a whole.
My passion for studying and learning didn’t end after my Graduate Degree though. Since then, I have been trying to teach myself as many skills as possible and to fill my cultural gaps, usually after work and during the weekends.
I am a firm believer that our culture is an intrinsic part of who we are — our identity.
And that our education is something that no one can take away from us. Ever.
If you are interested, here you may find my bookstagram/studygram. I opened it up three years ago because, at the time, I felt the unrelenting need to talk about the books I was reading, the impressions they left me with, the challenges I was encountering through my studies and of course, find some kindred spirits.
Doing it all through pictures and short captions felt… right.
Can you describe your study setup?
My workspace is a reflection of who I am and what I treasure the most: a calm environment, a neutral palette, some beautiful stationery and minimal notebooks (my favourite brands are Muji, Aurora, Clairefontaine, Rhodia, and Faber Castell.
And of course, my MacBook and my iPad with its keyboard — always at my disposal. I love using multiple screens.
When it came to imagining my home office, I knew what I wanted from the very beginning: a room with a great many bookcases and shelves (especially considering that I am an avid reader and a reviewer too...), an enormous desk and some cosy daylight to make me feel calm and at ease.
I change my desk setup quite often, especially after purchasing some new stationery or a vanilla-scented candle; and when autumn approaches and the air starts smelling of new beginnings, I usually try to include some brown-ish tones here and there.
I have recently purchased some dried cotton floral stems from a local greenhouse and I couldn’t be happier.
What’s your favourite item on your desk?
My favourite item would probably be the vintage white-silver lamp my mum gifted me when she saw my office some weeks ago.
She thought I needed something “vintage and timeless” to look at.
When she brought me the lamp, which is an original and unique piece from the ‘60s, I was moved by her thoughtfulness.
It has a special place on my desk, next to my favourite Yankee Candle Jar.
What does your typical day look like?
I have a strict sleep routine: I usually go to bed at 11:30 pm and wake up at 07:30 am.
When I was younger, back in high school, I used to live by the most erratic sleeping schedule ever. But when I went to university I realised that something had to change, and so it (I) did.
The first thing I usually do after waking up is petting my ginger cat, Harper, and then opening the shutters and the windows, to let some fresh air in. After having a shower, I prepare my breakfast and I read a chapter of one of my current reads.
I have just finished reading Dune Messiah — I love Herbert’s prose and the philosophical aspects of this series will never cease to amaze me.
Right now, I am reading two (academic) volumes about Byzantium and the legacy of the Komnenos. I am also contemplating a reread session of Lancelot, my favourite book of 2020.
After breakfast, I walk into my office, sit in front of my desk and start working (from home), but I always make the effort to take two small breaks before and after lunch, to stay focused.
When the workday comes to an end, I can finally put on my yoga leggings and start my daily practice. If it’s not too late, I use my elliptical for 30-40 minutes.
Then it’s dinner time (I love to cook). After dinner, I usually play with Harper, spend the evening with my beloved ones and then I try to read/study before going to bed.
The weekends are for studying, training, writing and reading, reading, reading. I have always been a bookworm and I believe it’s something that will never change.
But I am also a yogi and a writer and a (non-professional) baker, so I try to balance all my hobbies to the best of my abilities.
Your tips for studying from home?
I don’t have a great many tips to offer, but I am a firm believer in discipline.
In Graduate School I was a disciplined student and when we went into lockdown and the pandemic moulded our lives into the current ones, I realised I had to level up: as a consequence, I started to create some manageable routines.
I always try to wake up at a certain hour, even during the weekends.
Moreover, practising yoga daily has taught me how to connect with myself on a more organic level and how to listen — really listen — to my needs and my anxiety.
For instance, I do know that I need to have a to-do list on my desk before starting my workday; and therefore, I try to create one the evening before.
It helps allay most of my anxieties.
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