This Twitter Account Rates Zoom Backgrounds, and It Hates Your Color-Coordinated Books

updated Jul 2, 2020
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Color coordinated bookshelf
Credit: © eleonora galli/Getty Images

If you skip the virtual Zoom backgrounds to instead show whatever is actually in your background, you might have already tried to reposition, redecorate, and refresh your real-life work space to make it look more aesthetically pleasing. (Zoom staging, if you will?) Twitter account Room Rater looks for these kinds of real-life backdrops on TV, Twitter, and more adds colorful commentary, and then gives them a score out of 10. It sounds harsh, but the scores can actually provide some pretty good decorating tips (and a lot of entertainment).

@ratemyskyperoom was started by Claude Taylor, founder of Mad Dog Pac, and his girlfriend Jessie Bahrey shortly after everyone started quarantining. Since they both watched a lot of cable news, they often talked about people’s backgrounds and decided to take their funny thoughts—and tips on how to make the rooms better—to Twitter.

Taylor first started with screenshots that he and his girlfriend took, but once their account gained traction, others started voluntarily submitting what video backgrounds they’d like to see rated. Taylor and Bahrey post the photos with captions calling out details that they enjoy (or don’t), ending the experience with a blunt rating on a scale of 1 to 10.

To give you a better idea, here’s what a 10/10 looks like:

What was once a 9/10 background is now a 10/10. The flowers and greenery are clearly a major factor toward its success (more on that later).

The decor clearly worked in this background’s favor, but it goes without saying that the two dogs contributed to the perfect score.

Now let’s analyze the opposite situation—here’s a few example of low ratings:

Looks like the room rating went down from last time. Smaller book collection = smaller rating.

There’s clearly a desire here for, well, basically a fully renovated room. But hey, the plant could be an easy place to start!

We got to chat with Taylor about the biggest decorating tips he’s gathered from rating thousands upon thousands of people’s rooms. And while much of the advice continues to be focused on items to add, one piece of decorating advice Taylor stressed to us is a mistake to avoid at home: color-coordinating your bookshelf.

“If you’re going to go with books as a background, do not make the designer mistake of color coordinating your books,” Taylor tells Apartment Therapy. “That’s a real important point for us. They don’t care about the books, they haven’t read the books, they only care what the books look like.”

Also, make sure to include your dog in the shot if you’re able! Team #DontNeglectNancyButtercup.

Above is a great example of what Taylor is looking for in a bookshelf: candid and colorful without trying too hard.

Taylor warned that anyone who does color-coordinate gets an automatic three-point deduction from their score, explaining that it’s a big no-no because it looks as though you’re “treating books as props and not as books.” At that point, the max score you can get is a 7, and Taylor said it’s hard to get above a 2 or 3 at that point. Duly noted.

In addition to avoiding color-coordination in your bookshelf, Taylor shared another decorative tip that gives you major brownie points in his rating system: adding plants.

This room, for example, is radiating green—not to mention walls covered in art is working in its favor. (Empty walls count against you in the rating system, FYI.)

Taylor and Bahrey—who happens to manage a commercial greenhouse—stressed that plants are an easy way to add more color to your space, which is crucial to creating an attractive Zoom background. Like above, this room went from a 7 to a 9 mostly because of the “improved plant work.” Taylor says that sprinkling in elements like plants as well as art or a bookshelf (that isn’t color-coordinated) gives a room more depth.

If you’re curious about Taylor’s own Zoom background, here’s a shot of his own setup:

Credit: Claude Taylor

When asked what he would rate himself, he said “absolutely not” to a 10. “It’s like a 6 or 7. I need to work on the depth, but I’m fine with what it is.”

You can take or leave Taylor’s tips, but at the end of the day, the account exists to bring humor during a dark time. “I really want people to enjoy the account, enjoy the content,” Taylor said. “It’s not going to be for everyone, but it’s not meant to be taken that seriously.”