What to do when you’re stuck at home all day and night? Now’s a better time than ever to give the space you live (and work) in a little more TLC. The best part is that it doesn’t take a major renovation to make your home more enjoyable. Just look to one — or all if you’re ambitious! — of these timely ideas that’ll upgrade your home. Since it’s easy to push off home projects, make it your goal to complete your to-do list in the next couple of months so you can end the year on a much-needed high note.
Create a proper desk space
We hate to break it to you, but we all need to start thinking about the long-game for COVID-19 and what it means for many of our work situations. If you’re still working on a laptop on your bed, it’s time to find a proper workspace for yourself. Invest in an office desk (a writing desk tends to be more compact — and even foldable — if space is an issue) and a comfortable chair. Then dress it up with your personal touches: “Something I did at home was creating cheap pinboards to gather pieces of inspiration, which I also plan to use as a vision board for next year, too. If you have a blank wall in your home that’s feeling stale, you could add a bookshelf and decorate it with your favorite decor items,” says Chloe Heath, an interior designer and founder of Chloe Heath Design.
Reorganize your kitchen storage
Since you’re likely cooking for yourself more often these days, the only thing that might be preventing you from achieving Master Chef-level meals could be your kitchen organization. “Overhauling my kitchen storage has made a massive impact on the way that I look at cooking. You can start by taking inventory of your kitchen tools and pantry items (think: spices, tea, pasta) and place heavy-use items in the most accessible places. You don’t need a huge budget, and you’d be surprised by what a few baskets and lazy Susans can do to your cabinets,” says Heath. Another upside? “You might even find that an organized pantry and fridge will help you cook based on what you already have, which might reduce your food waste and even save money on groceries.”
Make your backyard (or balcony!) a sanctuary
If you live in the suburbs, your backyard has likely been your go-to place to hang out this year for a little fresh air during times of social distancing and quarantining — especially if you have kids and they need to burn off some energy. “If you live in warmer weather year-round, there are tons of ways to make your outdoor space more enjoyable, depending on how much space you have. You can hang string lights to make al fresco dining feel more special or add a built-in bar for entertaining,” says Jillian Ziska, interior designer and founder of To Be Decorated. “As the cooler weather approaches, a great idea is to add an outdoor firepit or space heaters to cozy up to the night. I also planted a vegetable garden with herbs so I could make fewer trips to the grocery store and enjoy fresh produce. It’s also important to plant any spring annuals in cooler months so they can grow roots and be ready to bloom come spring.”
Finally, hang that artwork
Staring at blank walls all day? Adding artwork or photos to your walls add personality and warmth to your home. Plus, chances are you already have some frames that have been begging to be hung. “Hanging artwork can make a world of a difference in creating a space that feels like your own. I think we’re all a bit guilty of purchasing amazing artwork, or receiving it as a gift and not finding the time to get it professionally framed, so it sits in a closet not ever making its way to the walls. Just make a day of heading to your local framing store to get all the sizes you need and ensuring the finishes complement each other. Want to really make your artwork pop and look extra chic? Add a picture light over top,” says Ziska. There are apps like Wallary that use augmented reality to showcase your artwork on your wall before you hang anything to make sure it looks exactly the way you want it.
Carve out a creative corner
Now that many of us have combined our workspace with our living space, “our brains need a break from work mode to be our most productive, creative selves,” says Ziska. “That’s why it’s important to create a creative space for yourself. It doesn’t have to be an entire room, even a corner of a room is great! Just find a space that isn’t getting much use as it currently is, clean it out and create your very own art studio, potting room or zen meditation space. You can take a cork board from an art supply store and cover it with your favorite fabric for a functional and eye-catching bulletin board for all your amazing ideas.”
Organize your garage
If your home has a garage, it likely doesn’t get the same love and care that the rest of your home gets. “It’s time to finally unpack any old moving boxes and clear some space to make your garage functional. It’s so easy to just throw holiday decorations into the garage until the next season, but imagine if everything was organized into labeled containers for ease next season. With freed up garage space you could add a workbench for home projects, convert the space into a home gym, or even just finally be able to park your car and keep it safe from the snow,” says Ziska. In Maplewood, New Jersey, garage bars are inspiring suburban dads to use their garage space as a place to hang out with a few friends, which is especially handy during COVID. While it might not be the same as going to a bar, at least you don’t need to worry about crowds or hire a baby-sitter.
Revamp your mudroom
If you live in a house, the mudroom is often the first thing you see when you enter. “I like to think a mudroom can also give a peek into the soul of a space, so give it character and make it happy. Considering the state we are in, I think it’s also important to think about sanitation for this area,” says Deborah DiMare, interior designer and founder of DiMare Design. “Paint the mudroom a fun, happy color like light blue, coral, yellow or pink. Get some pretty wicker brackets filled with paper booties for any guests, a ledge to easily store your disinfectant and plenty of storage to leave anything that might have contaminants on it — like hooks for each of your kids’ backpacks — so they’re not brought into the rest of the house,” she says.
Create your home gym
Many gyms are still closed (or reduced capacity) and if you live in colder weather, there’s even less incentive to get outside and exercise in the winter months. First, figure out the best area to dedicate for your workout space — likely your basement, attic or garage are good contenders. Then, be on the lookout on a local buy/sell Facebook groups or neighborhood garage sales for basic workout equipment, like dumbbells, exercise bands, a yoga mat and a jump rope. Wipe or spray them down with disinfectant and you’re good to go. Even if you live in an apartment or shared space that has a gym, it’s also great to get a basket together of your own equipment so you’re not swapping germs.
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