Having been office bound for most of his career (as Associate Style Editor at GQ and then Editor of The Jackal), Nick Carvell swapped to writing about menswear and consulting for brands from home earlier this year.
For a freelancer, separating work time and relaxation time is tricky when you spend your days doing your job in the same space as what would ordinarily be your off-the-clock sanctuary – and this has only intensified with the lockdown restrictions.
For this weekend’s edition of The Wind Down, we talk to Nick about the importance of creating physical spaces to mentally unwind and his newfound appreciation of a Campari and tonic at six 'o' clock on the dot.
How do you signal the end of a day and beginning of relaxing?
Putting my laptop away in a cupboard at six ‘o’ clock sharp, clearing all my notebooks into a drawer so I can no longer see them and having a cocktail with my husband (current favourite is a Campari and tonic with a slice of orange).
Nick Carvell at his home in London
What’s your number one winding down habit?
I think it’s been helpful for to keep a determined physical space in my home for my work. I might have a laptop, but it stays planted on my kitchen table – I’ve banned myself from working in any other room in the house. That way, my bedroom (Nick sleeps in Linen in Ink and Rose) and our living room feel like places to relax and places to get away from thoughts of work.
Bedfolk Linen in Rose & Ink
Are you someone that has a to do list at home?
Absolutely – it’s good to have all my tasks laid out so I can work through them. As a freelance writer there’s always something else to do or somewhere else to pitch.
I could keep working endlessly, so having a defined set of things to achieve every day helps remind me that I’ve achieved a decent amount and makes me feel less guilty about stopping for the evening.
How difficult is it for you to do nothing? And what would you define as “doing nothing”?
I find it really hard to do nothing. I always feel I need to be reading or messaging or physically doing something like balling socks during evening relaxation time. Unless you’re talking about lie-ins. I’m perfectly happy doing absolutely nothing there!
How has it been during lockdown, which has definitely felt split between feeling we have to fill up our time yet also slow down?
I think the feeling of always needing to do more eats away at any freelancer most of the time. However the pandemic has definitely intensified it.
Working from the same room in our house without external meetings or events to get me out for a few hours, I have been acutely aware of what too much work and worry feels like.
To combat that, I’ve forced myself to take time away from my work (say, a day a week) to give myself some space to think about other things, which makes me more productive and inspired in the long-run.
Any apps or tools you do to help you relax?
A month into lockdown my husband bought an Xbox, which has become the most effective relaxation tool in our house. Although, despite much practice, I am still terrible at Civilisation VI. My inner teen gamer despairs.
Campari and tonic - a six ‘o’ clock essential
How do you make your home a sanctuary?
Scent has been important in making our home feel like a cosier, more relaxing space during lockdown. Spraying on cologne before getting down to work or sparking up a scented candle at the end of the day really helps to change the vibe of the space.
What are three things always on your bedside table?
A book, a tube of hand cream and, currently, Jo Malone London’s Lavender & Musk Pillow Mist.
Nick's bedside must-haves
Nick's Lie In List
Josiah Wedgwood: Entrepreneur to the Enlightenment by Brian Dolan, The Last Man by Mary Shelley, “How To Cool It” by James Baldwin in Esquire, 1968
The Great, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Bake Off: The Professionals, Little Women, This House (currently streaming on National Theatre Live).
Transit by FloFilz (album), You’re Dead To Me by Greg Jenner (podcast), Home Cooking by Samin Nosrat and Hrishikesh Hirway (podcast), Unflopped (podcast), menswear brand Aime Leon Dore’s playlist on Spotify, the disco-heavy discographies of Tom Aspaul and Kelechi.
Robert Spangle (@thousandyardstyle) is the most interesting person on Instagram. An incredible photographer based in LA who travels the world photographing street style, he also does incredible reportage work and gives survival tips thanks to his former life in the US Marines.
A trained Savile Row tailor, his eye for style is incredible, his dress sense is epic and, to cap it all, he’s a thoroughly nice guy. Worth an immediate follow.
Drake’s London (@drakesdiary), F E Castleberry (@fecastleberry) and Ango-Italian (@angloitaliancompany) for tailoring; Inabo (@_Inabo) and Res Ipsa (@resipsausa) for superbly smart slip-on house shoes (a work from home essential); Bleue Burnham (@bleueburnham) for beautiful men’s jewellery; Summerill & Bishop (@summerillandbishop) for incredible tableware and ceramics.