There has naturally been a flurry of posts and features and articles (some of which I have contributed to) about how to make our homes work for us during this period and there are two points I want to make for anyone who a) isn’t suddenly feeling they want to rush out and paint their skirting boards or b) is thinking they just need to get through the day without falling over a small child, punching the wall or picking passive aggressive arguments with their partner about whose turn it is to empty the bin. And, with apologies for the language (and the potential gender stereotyping) but this really made me laugh:
And on that note, I’m going to start a new series loosely called: 10 Things I Hate About You (my house not my partner) now that I have to live with you 24/7 and how to put them right.
Now the first, and I think, most important thing to note is that any decorating you do in this period doesn’t count. What you want now and what you will want when this is over are, probably, entirely different. Now you want calming, safe and restful. Later you might want joyous, energising and bright. Pretty soon I think you might hate the open plan you spent so long knocking walls down to create and start fantasising about walls and doors so that you can have separation from everyone else. And on that note I think that happens anyway once your toddlers become teens.
So for the moment if you have an idea just go with it. On the basis that you won’t be hiring a builder any time so you won’t actually be knocking down walls or doing anything permanent. It will mostly be centred around paint colours and re-arranging the furniture so give it a go.
For those of you who don’t have access to any outside space the most important thing you can do now is try and recreate that feeling. Put plants next to windows and, where possible put a chair there as well so you can spend a few minutes a day with your back to the rest of the room looking at the plants. You may have to ignore the view of the carpark or the road outside. Or perhaps you can order a window film (pick one with a floral or leaf design) and stick that on. Or some sheer curtains that might billow in the breeze when the window is open (close your eyes and imagine you’re on a Greek island).
One thing you can do, which is probably just temporary, is paint the window frames yellow or green. This has been proven to help as this post I wrote about two years ago from a book called Happy By Design, how to create a home that boosts your health and happiness by Victoria Harrison. If you can’t paint the window frame then if you can get out to buy some daffodils and put them on a window that will give the same impression of a sunny day. And while there is no research on green windows I reckon it will have the same effect. And remember, when this is done you can always paint them back again. And if you want to make your window look bigger paint not just the window but an area on the wall around the window too.
There seems to be a huge rush to decorate right now which is partly about giving us a sense of control – I can’t do anything about what’s out there but I can do something about what’s in here. I think what’s more important is to use this time to plan. One of the most important elements of getting your interior design right is to know what’s wrong with it in the first place. That is what this time is for. Is your kitchen designed so there’s a log jam every time everyone gets up from the table with their plates and heads to the sink, is the bath taking up space while the shower curtain wraps itself around you trying to assassinate you every morning, is that coffee table too small, too far away not really big enough for a)your laptop b)your dinner c)your feet c) all of the above.
Yesterday I gave you homework on colours, today why not start thinking about the things that have been irritating you for ages and considering how you might be able to put them right and I will start addressing some of them over the next few days.
One thing that I think is becoming clear is that how we use our homes will change after this. Rohini Wahi is a trend forecaster and she did a short IGTV post on this yesterday noting that sales of home gym equipment are already increasing. But that, in the future it will need to be beautiful as well as functional as it’s going to live in our houses and we may not be able to fit it into a cupboard. We might end up cooking more (once the initial rush of going out to find someone else to cook for us has worn off) so designers will need to look at food storage that can also serve as tableware because we will need multi-functional pieces rather than twice as many cupboards.
I have spoken before about buying a console table with a drawer that can flip from desk to dressing table by storing the mirror in the drawer and swapping for the laptop when required. Rohini goes a step further and suggests that there may be more drawers in dining tables for this purpose or that more domestic furniture will come with cable tidies for example.
Taking this idea further, I think we may become bolder in our living room designs as a place away from the home-working area to help us really make a contrast between the two. I also think that whatever you do now in terms of decoration isn’t wrong. Use this time to plan, to experiment and to work out what you really like. Use your home as a giant living Pinterest board. If there are more of you at home than usual you may want to get rid of the coffee table completely for now to make space for Lego and dancing. You may want to move the sofa out of the bay window so you can put the table there and create a working space with a view. You may want to paint everything in a restful neutral pale colour that makes you feel safe and calm but, come the end, you may decide that now is the time for that explosion of celebratory colour that you never dared try before.
During this time of uncertainty use it to dream of what you want your house to be and think of ways you might be able to make that more possible. And nothing is wrong as anything you do will help you understand more of what you want and need from your space.
And I’m going to link to the book because it might help. And I’m going to include the two most recent reviews and add that if you have already got a copy then leaving a review is massively helpful as Amazon then takes notice of it. Apparently 50 is the magic number so I would be enormously grateful if it, or this blog, has helped you in any way if you could leave a review. Thank you.
Kate’s book is wholly accessible to all readers – whether you own or rent a house, are dealing with your partner’s taste, have kids to share space with… Don’t expect a glossy interior designer/architecture book with no text and large photos, this is finally a pretty book that also tackles all your rooms and (most!) key questions, in witty layman language. Exactly what I needed, on top of Kate’s blog and podcasts that is. In fact, it was better for me than Farrow & Ball’s Recipes for Decorating which already stocked my bookshelf, this book helps me on everything refurb/redesign related.
Kate Watson-Smyth’s 6 questions you have to ask yourself before you start any interior design scheme (who, what, where, when, why and how) are possibly the most helpful thing about designing and decorating that I’ve ever read. They’ve made me focus on function, and what’s genuinely going to make our lives easier, instead of just getting excited about the shapes, colour and textures I like. It’s also brilliant having answers to my interior design questions in one place.
Wonderful book! Beautifully illustrated, great advice and amusing read. If you’re on the hunt for an interior design book that guides you step by step through the planning process, this is your book!