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A living area with a white couch, table, chair, and desk. There are white built-in shelves on the wall. There are books, various objects, and works of art on the shelves. Eirik Johnson

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15 gorgeous backdrops for your next Zoom call

Carefully selected to look sufficiently realistic

As more of us stay home to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, video chat has become a go-to solution for staying connected with others. And in the video chat world, the only thing more important than your face—and maybe a cute baby or pet—is a pleasing backdrop.

But what makes a good videoconference background anyway? We have a few thoughts.

“I think the [video chat] background rules are pretty close to the good Instagram photo rules: shallow depth of field, not more than three colors, keep it simple,” says Curbed’s architecture critic, Alexandra Lange.

“Consider one saturated color, a jungle of plants, or texture,” editor-in-chief Kelsey Keith adds to the list of ideal backdrop features. “If it’s just you in a room, natural light is non-negotiable.”

Indeed, vibrant color, great lighting, and plants often do wonders for interiors, and in the time of constant videoconferencing, those features can be helpful shortcuts for creating an impressive virtual interior.

Whether you’re trying to arrange a “just eye-catching enough” background for work or want to spruce things up for an online happy hour with friends, we hope you can find some backdrop decor inspiration below, courtesy of some of our best home tours.

If you’re using a videoconferencing service like Zoom, which lets you upload your own image background, try saving some of these photos (carefully selected to look sufficiently realistic) and instantly transport yourself to a design-savvy home for your next call. (And while you’re at it, make sure to turn on the “Touch Up My Appearance” filter.)

Lean into bookshelves

Like threads of a tapestry, colorful book spines naturally weave into an understated yet visually appealing backdrop. Stack volumes neatly or go maximalist and subtly flex all of your objets.

Find your fun wall

Sitting in front of any non-blank backdrop creates a mood in a snap, be it a surface doused in a vibrant color, made of a hulking slab of concrete, or covered in an assemblage of artworks and textiles.

Strategically place some plants

Plants: They look good on Instagram, so why wouldn’t they on video chat? Share a serene moment with family, friends, and coworkers via a peek of greenery.

Call in the great outdoors

It’s always a pleasant surprise to see someone dial in from an outdoor space, and in the age of social distancing, that means making the most of a private balcony or yard if you’re lucky enough to have one. Consider it a gift of a virtual breath of fresh air for the more cooped up among us.