Since lock-down started, we’ve all had to make some changes in our homes. With everyone working and schooling from home, our living spaces are being put under more pressure than ever.
Functionality is being tested to the max and the current situation is probably magnifying all the faults in the layouts of our homes, but with a few tweaks and changes, it is possible to make your home function better during this unusual time. Below, I share some tips on things I’ve done in my own home to make the busy days run that little bit smoother.
A workspace for everyone
If you don’t live alone, I strongly recommend a desk for everyone in the household or family. It gives each person a base to be productive in and call their own. I’ve found this works really well for our seven-year-old, Eva’s home-schooling. We’ve given her the responsibility of keeping it organised and tidy, which it hardly ever is! But she loves the ownership and responsibility of it. We’ve even our nearly two-year-old a desk of her own too, which slightly minimises disruptions to the home-schooling.
A realistic look at our lockdown layout! Imagery by Tash South @southplacestudio.
Try to allocate a decent spot to each desk and work area, somewhere with a view or natural light, you’ll probably be spending a great deal of time there, so it has to be inviting. It’s important to separate your work space from you relaxing space, especially if you are feeling demotivated in this confusing time.
Even the nearly-two-year-old has her own work area. Imagery by Tash South @southplacestudio.
In our current situation with two young kids, and teaching as well, does not really allow for each person to be working away in a separate room all of the time, so my husband and I both work from the dining table, and have desks set up elsewhere as well – so we can take turns to escape for work that needs focus or team video call meetings.
Max out your spare bedroom, if you have one
We are very lucky to have a spare bedroom, especially in London, where space per person is limited. But we do make the absolute most of it. Our spare bedroom is usually my home office, and pre-lockdown, it was also our guest bedroom (thanks to the great sofa-bed), but not only that, it is also an over-spill living and play room for the kids. We work it hard. And now, during lockdown, it is working even harder.
Jude sofa bed in Dusky Ocean. My home office before the mini-makeover. Imagery by Tash South @southplacestudio.
Max out your spare bedroom, if you have one
The room was definitely styled more as my office, so I gave it a mini makeover to serve us even better in these unusual times, changing just a few things to give it a more fun and welcoming atmosphere. I’ve swapped the framed prints to artwork made by the kids, ditched all my work tile and flooring samples from the shelves and made it into a mini-bar instead, and the cushions have been switched up for some more color.
Jude sofa bed in Dusky Ocean. The home office before the mini-makeover. Imagery by Tash South @southplacestudio.
We now relax in here, watch films, the kids cosy up and read, we do video calls with friends and family, and it’s all centred around the comfy Jude sofa-bed from Sofa Workshop.
Jude sofa bed in Dusky Ocean. A quick swap of some artwork and cushions make for a colourful and fun atmosphere. Imagery by Tash South @southplacestudio.
Re-purpose a room for two
It is uncertain how long this situation will last, it may be a while, so it makes sense to organise our homes to function best for us right now. This may mean less-than-ideal temporary furniture layouts, but we have to max out every inch of space. Sit down with your family or household members and figure out how you can rearrange or re-purpose rooms to serve their best functions.
We encouraged our daughter to share her bedroom with her little sister - freeing up the small baby’s bedroom. Which I’ve put a small desk into, so it makes an extra home office or craft room, it’s by no means large, but it does mean there is another separate area for any of us to escape to for some quiet time or work that needs concentration.
For your own sanity, keep things organised
Actual cleaning may be way down the list, but keeping floors and rooms as clutter free as possible, especially after the kids have gone to bed, is important and calming. You don’t want to be tripping over toys spilling your hard-earned glass of prosecco on the way to the sofa after a long day!
A recent American study showed that seeing clutter causes an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone, causing similar effects to PTSD. So if you find clutter makes you feel overwhelmed and claustrophobic, then it is very important that every person in the household helps to keep things organised and tidy.
The custom storage in our living room helps to keep things organised. Imagery by Tash South @southplacestudio.
Make space to exercise
If you don’t run or get the opportunity to get of the house to exercise, it is so important to make space in your home to do it. Even of it means a very simple fix like temporarily having the furniture arranged in a way to free up enough floor space to do your Joe Wicks.
In my busy day with work, home commitments and two kids, time for myself is rare, so simply keeping equipment in sight and accessible, really works for me. Simply keeping a rolled up Pilates mat and resistance band in a corner of the living room, serves as a nudge to get moving. If I see that I can steal even 15 minutes out of the day, I’ll quickly roll it out there and then and get a you tube class on the iPad – and sometimes in the garden if the weather is good.
Keep exercise equipment somewhere that is easily accessible. Imagery by Tash South @southplacestudio.
Use your garden as an extra room
If you are lucky enough to have a garden, make it into an inviting, use-able outside room so members of the family or household can spill out, especially now that the weather is improving. It will reduce demand on the inside spaces, so set up your garden furniture with comfy cushions, an outside rug and even an extension cable for laptop chargers so that it can be used as a work area too.
Make the absolute most out of your garden during the warmer months. Imagery by Tash South @southplacestudio.
Create a dedicated calm space
Find a little nook in your home for a reading corner, where anyone in the family can escape to with a book or a podcast for some quiet time. In our home, I’ve created this spot on the landing, it gets the evening sun, so it’s a good place to escape to for 30 minutes or so, once the kids are in bed.
We all need a moment of calm in these circumstances.
This little spot on the landing is somewhere to escape to with a good book. Imagery by Tash South @southplacestudio.