For the past 10 months, many of us have spent more time at home than anyone could have ever imagined, making it completely reasonable to crave a redesign of your interior spaces. Not sure where to begin? Don’t fret: We tapped two Boulder design pros for tips on how you can breathe new life into your great indoors during the pandemic.
Ask yourself ‘What isn’t working?’
Whether it’s a lack of adequate lighting, an office setup that causes back pain or an uninspiring room, consider aspects of the home that aren’t meeting your needs. Determining what isn’t working will help you decide what changes to make, according to Andi Lawlor, founder and CEO Interiors Aligned, a firm established in 2017 that helps clients create holistic spaces that support their health and well-being and the environment.
“How one approaches home improvements during the pandemic will be unique for each household depending on how they need to be supported by their space,” she says. “When so much of our time is spent indoors—especially these days—it is important that our interiors support us in maintaining our mental and physical health.”
Get creative with what you already own.
Using what you already have to refresh your space can be both affordable and effective. Chelsea Thowe, who founded Bright Interiors in 2019 and has been in the design field for six years, recommends rearranging your furniture or moving lamps and accessories to different spots in a room or within the home. “Moving things around can give your space a new energy. I think you appreciate what you have more when it’s suddenly somewhere new and it keeps things from feeling stagnant,” she says.
Tidying up your space can also go a long way, according to Lawlor. “What often makes an even greater impact is decluttering your space and investing in storage where needed. Everything should have a place, and this becomes a handy tool as you get in the practice of tidying up daily,” she says.
Make small investments.
If you have a budget, there are simple things you can buy that can make a big difference.
“Some small changes you can make are new throw pillows that add different colors or textures and getting a mirror or new light fixtures to brighten up a space. Painting your walls a lighter color will also have a big impact on your home,” says Thowe.
Last year, Lawlor and her family decided their 2,200-square-foot space wasn’t working for them, so they moved into an updated apartment half the size while on the hunt for their dream home. To create a mindful, uplighting space, Lawlor decorated it with refurbished, pre-loved furniture; artifacts and photographs from their travels; plants; and vintage items.
“All of my favorite items and memories are displayed for me daily, and I know my design decisions didn’t contribute to a negative environmental impact. For me, that is pure bliss,” she says. “I love the idea of revitalizing a piece and breathing a new life into it through reupholstering and refinishing. I want to get away from this notion that we must always be purchasing new to feel refreshed.”
DIYers can follow in Lawlor’s footsteps by giving vintage items and pre-owned furniture a second life and displaying items that have sentimental value or bring you joy. (And if they don’t, it may be time to purge or donate them.)
“Maybe it’s displaying a wood sculpture you collected while traveling, relocating a plant that gets lost in a dark corner, hanging an art piece that has been handed down or reupholstering a tired piece of furniture that is otherwise in a solid condition,” she says. “I suggest keeping it playful and experimenting until you find the right combination. It will take patience, but the end result is extremely rewarding.”
Focus on the spaces you work in or retreat to.
Since home has also become a workplace for many, it is more important than ever to set up separate WFH and relaxation spaces. Whether your office is in a spare bedroom or at the dining room table, make sure it is a spot that is as free from distractions as possible, says Thowe. Her recommendations include having a sit-stand desk or a tall table to keep your body moving throughout the day; keeping organized with a small file drawer or storage chest; and choosing a space with plenty of natural light.
“You will also need good task lighting, either a floor or desk lamp will bring the light to you, versus just using your overhead lights,” she says. “Make sure you have things around you that make you happy, whether that’s a plant, family photos or a cute accessory. Feeling good in your space is the best way to stay motivated and productive.”
To facilitate a good work-life balance, keep the areas where you work and relax as separate as possible. An increasingly popular addition to many residences this year is a dedicated meditation space, which can be easily set up in the corner of your living room, bedroom or office, Thowe says. To create your own, choose an area that’s free from distractions and near a window for natural light and fresh air. Key elements to add include a comfortable place to sit (think: a meditation cushion, yoga mat, floor pillow or chair) and a low stool or small side table to place relaxation-promoting materials like candles and incense.