Welcome to this month’s instalment of Dear Urbaneer where I take real estate questions from my ever-inquisitive clients. This post, I guide a client who, like many of us, is faced with living and working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Truly, in these troubling times, the concept of “home” and how we live in our spaces have been given a whole new context.
Like for so many of us, I relish coming home, closing the front door behind me after a long day and simply being “home”. However, when we are confined to our homes to both work and live - as we are right now - I fear that my perception of my home will soon shift from sanctuary to prison. Do you have any tips on how to endure self-isolation, keep that love going for my home and to make the most of these days?
Help Me Preserve My Home As Sanctuary
Firstly, thank you for reaching out! I think the world is realizing that, now, more than ever, it’s more important to stay connected with each other. During these trying times, we need to surround ourselves with love, support, and optimism, as it will be the key to preserving our mental health in quarantine. By focusing on the ways in which we connect with each other - and the nature of those connections - we can really make the most of our relationships with people and with our home environment! As in all crises, there is the opportunity for growth and positive change; qualities like discipline, patience, and selflessness are all examples what we can discover about ourselves by enduring hardships.
So, now, due to social distancing and attempting to flatten the COVID-19 curve, we have been handed a unique opportunity to improve ourselves, or, at the very least, to make the most of our time at home during self-isolation.
Self-Quarantine Can Be Productive & Positive!
Some of the most impactful work for our civilisation was done during self-isolation.
Did you know that Shakespeare reportedly did some of his best-known work during quarantine? When theatres were shut down during the early 17th century due to social distancing requirements, Shakespeare, who worked for a theatre company at the time, found himself without a job and with lots of time on his hands. During his time in quarantine, he reportedly wrote King Lear and Macbeth!
Isaac Newton was sent home from his studies at Cambridge when schools were closed to exert physical distancing. During his year in quarantine, he wrote a paper on mathematical problems that laid the groundwork for early calculus; he fooled around with prisms in his bedroom, which set the stage for his work in optics; while hanging out in his garden near a certain apple tree, he discovered gravity.
This is living proof that self-isolation does not need to curb creativity or progress! Just because the rules have shifted slightly, your home is still your sanctuary. Let's talk about how to stay connected to your love for 'home'.
How Your Home Impacts Your Mental Health
I’ve talked a great deal about how our sense of home fulfils a number of psychological and physical purposes. In these posts, Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs And Toronto Real Estate For Buyers and Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs And Toronto Real Estate For Sellers I talk about how housing fulfills successive needs from safety all the way to self-actualization.
In this post The Psychology Of Real Estate, Housing & Home, I talk about how our emotional responses around purchasing and perceptions figure into the buying and selling of homes.
Obviously, during these times of self-isolation, your home offers shelter and physical protection from the outside world (and the perception of chaos).
One the one hand, your home is your safe place and your fortress. Keeping others away - social distancing - gives you a sense of power and gratification that you're helping the collective by self-isolating.
One the other hand, when your ability to leave your four walls is limited, is your home your sanctuary or your prison?
It can be helpful to pause and consider how your home and your living environment impact your mental health. Click here to read "5 Ways Your Home Impacts Your Mental Health and Is Your Home The Cause Of Your Anxiety?"
For example, open concept living can increase your sense of space, but it can also create issues around privacy, which can be stressful if you find yourself suddenly at home with multiple people. Consider moving bookshelves or plants to create separate spaces. Click here to read "How To Maintain Privacy In Your Open Concept Home".
A lack of natural light can create anxiety and depression, enhancing feelings of isolation. If this applies to you, make it mandatory to get outside every day, with responsible social distancing, of course. Our connection to nature figures heavily into our enjoyment of our homes, which I wrote about in Dear Urbaneer: What Is Biophilia And How Can I Use It In Home Design?
Acoustics factor into your enjoyment of your space. If you are constantly barraged by unwanted noise (or become increasingly more agitated by it as the days go by),simple fixes like positioning rugs moving furniture against the wall or hanging extra drywall may just do the trick.
Click here to read "Clever Interior Hacks for Absorbing Unwanted Noise At Home".
There are a number of well-known and easy ways that you can create that sense of calm and sanctuary at home through design and décor. Aside from binge-watching Marie Kondo on Netflix for inspiration, here are some hints.
Cluttered spaces will only enhance a sense of confinement.
Purge unwanted items. Put seasonal and rarely used items out of sight. Arrange your home so that items have a purpose. Simple spaces with clean lines will create calm minds.
Make sure your furniture layout permits you to move easily throughout your home - which is even more essential in high traffic areas. Tailor it to the best use for your personal needs. Nothing will make you feel cramped than bumping into large pieces. This is a good chance to experiment with moving furniture to different rooms or repurposing it.
For example, in the living room, have seating face each other to facilitate socialization, or make sure seating is maximized for viewing pleasure for a movie night with the family.
Make use of soft lighting with rose coloured light bulbs. Break out the candles for a Zen glow around your home. Use dimmer switches where possible to create soft light on demand.
One of our most powerful senses is that of smell. In fact, a familiar scent can often elicit the strongest response in our psyche, especially in recalling memories. As such, aromatherapy is a great way to infuse calm into your home.
Some of the most popular essential oils are lavender, sage, jasmine and bergamot (citrus).
Prominence For What You Love
Now is the time to make your most beloved items the stars of your décor. Items that bring you comfort, make you laugh or help you to recall a good memory should be front and centre. Think about hanging photos of good times with friends and family or inspirational quotes to remind you of what life will be like again- in due time.
What colours you have on the walls will impact your mood. Remember that darker colours tend to make spaces seem smaller. Greens and blues are traditionally more calming, but perhaps this is just the occasion that calls for bold, bright colours. How do you feel? I wrote about how we respond to different colours in Colour Communications: What Message Are You Sending
It’s a well-known fact that home buyers will pay premiums for a dreamy master suite or ensuite. That’s because these corners of your home offer the right potential for privacy, seclusion and relaxation, even more important when you are stuck at home.
Pay special attention to your bedroom as it is essential that you get proper rest right now. Keep it clean. Indulge in plush bedding. Consider putting the TV in another room and make sure that your nightstand is stocked with good reads.
As for your bathroom, stock up on bath oils and premium products (you deserve a treat)! Think about upgrading your showerhead to a lovely, large rainfall. Sprinkle eucalyptus oil on the showerhead before your shower to invigorate you. Plan to have a lovely bath and lock the door.
Placing plants strategically in rooms can help you to feel connected to the outdoors, provide calm and clean the air in your home- even more important when you are at home for extended periods of time.
Click here to read "11 Simple Ways To Make Your Home A Stress-Free Sanctuary" and "10 Design Secrets For A Calm And Happy Home".
Setting up Your Home Office
With most of us relegated to working at home with widespread closures and aggressive social distancing measures taking place, the transition to a home office can be a source of stress for some.
You may have a sweet home office already, where you toil away on a daily basis; or perhaps you are setting up camp at your kitchen table- with your partner also setting up shop in close proximity. Your productivity will hinge largely on how and where you position yourself in your home.
First on the list? Create a designated, proper workspace for your “office”. Ideally, you should remove yourself from the rest of your home, with a door to close. However, that might not be an option in your current home. Don’t be afraid to move furniture around to better suit your needs. After all, this isn’t forever.
Make sure that your makeshift office has good, steady Wi-Fi access and has a number of electrical outlets. Better still, if you can locate yourself near a window, having that injection of natural light during the day can do wonders.
If you’ve got a lot of noise in and around your home that you might find distracting, consider a quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
A few practical tips. Start the day by showering and getting dressed, as you would if you were leaving home. Around the clock, pajamas will quickly lose its appeal. Set work hours as though you were in the office. This lets you resist the temptation to tackle home chores during work time and vice versa. (Click here to read these other "7 Things To Consider If You Find Yourself Working From Home").
Once the day is done, transition over and take a break from work to focus on home and family!
Home Improvement Projects
When you are stuck inside, this may be just the time to tackle those home improvement projects that you’ve been putting off. While this most definitely is not the time to hit your local big box for building supplies, there are a number of companies that offer contactless delivery for your supplies.
Some perfect projects for right now include creating more storage, painting, attending to small repairs and spring cleaning.
This is also the ideal time to plan ahead for your projects. You’ve got time and space to consider your options, save money and derive inspiration. And your local vendors and tradespeople will very much appreciate your support as we get the economy back on track when we emerge from this.
Click here to read Dear Urbaneer: How Do We Establish Our Interior Design Style?
Although we have lost a great deal as a community over the last few weeks, we still maintain a great deal of freedom and power through choice; it’s how we exercise these choices that will define the opportunity that awaits us on the other side of this crisis.
We have the choice to engage in social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19; we have the choice to be kind to our neighbours and to ourselves- as we learn how to establish a new normal- if just for now; we have the choice to use social media positively as a means of encouragement and as a reminder that we are a community all in this together, rather than using these means of communication as a way to create isolation through fear and misinformation; we have the choice to support local businesses as we can, to lay the framework for the economic recovery that will need our assistance.
Stay positive. Work together. See the light ahead!
If you are looking to learn more about housing and home, check out all my other posts on Urbaneer.com. We hope you'll find it an entertaining and surprisingly educational way to spend your time at home!
Here are some other posts you may enjoy, about mental health and improving your home life:
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Thanks for reading!
-The Urbaneer Team
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 322-8000
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