C Style: “Safe at Home” Home Design

As an eternal optimist, I always look for the silver linings. As a residential and commercial interior designer whose entire industry has been greatly affected by Covid-19, it can be challenging to find one. But looking through the dark Covid-19 covered clouds I predict the future of home design will be reset, especially in regards to working from home, and that can be exciting. Even when restrictions are completely lifted, work-from-home will continue to become more of a norm now that companies have seen it can be done and with as much – or even more, production.

So how does this relate to home design, you ask? Staying inside all day can take a toll on your mental well-be-ing, so never before has a home’s layout and design been more of an important factor for happiness, motivation, and inspiration. For some of you, being quarantined may be a cozied time, while others look around and hate everything they see, which makes staying at home all the more stressful. I know one thing we should all be doing is looking at what we desire less and concentrate on how our homes make us feel. Once we get through this crisis, we’ll be living in a new normal, and there are steps you can take to make your home better appointed to handle longer hours spent inside.

Here are some ways to make your home more family and work friendly 24/7. They allow you to stay ahead of the curve while at home flattening the curve.

FAMILY FRIENDLY

CREATE A SPACE THAT IS STRUCTURED AND WELL PLANNED WITH COZY AREAS
One of the most recent home-design trends is the open-floorplan concept, which has been wonderful for con-necting families together. It’s great to have the kitchen and great room be the main focal point where everyone congregates. In this time of quarantine, however, one can go stir crazy with everyone in the same room for the majority of the day. So, having designated and well-thought-out space other than a bedroom is critical for some needed “alone time.” If you don’t have a dedicated room for that, even a formerly neglected corner can be made into a personal space or a cozy nook near a window can be transformed and become an instant retreat to relax, read, or meditate in.

UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF LIGHT AND COLOR
Color influences mood, and natural light has a positive affect and con-nects us to nature. In most new construction, we are designing windows that come all the way down and reach the floor which increases a home’s natural brightness by 30%. The science and psychology of color has proven that people react differently to different colors. Greens are nurturing and oranges and yellows provide energy while blues actually lower appetite! But before you go and paint the whole house blue, it’s important to explore how you react to different colors and which colors you have a need for most.

ENJOY A MULTIPURPOSE ROOM
Washing your hands thoroughly and often is here to stay, and good home hygiene is too. One room that some homebuilders don’t often incorporate is a mud room or a separate entry to unload and store shoes, clothing, and goods before entering the main house in smaller homes. There really wasn’t a need previously, but there is now. A good multipurpose room can be used as a washroom, regular pantry, extra-storage “Cosco” pantry, or let’s just face it, an emergency pantry to store essential items such as water, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer, along with plenty of food.

MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE WITH THE RIGHT MATERIALS
The right materials do matter for comfort. This is where cost matters, and you get your money’s worth. Natural materials, such as wood, stone, and brass, cost more than plastics, laminates, and man-made fabrications, but they are worth it. They will enrich a space and make it feel more earthy and natural and easier to keep clean and germ-free. Comfortable, durable fabrics on seating are essential everywhere, not just in the family room. Don’t forget comfortable fabrics at the kitchen table, dining table, and outdoors!

WORK FRIENDLY

CREATE A SPACE THATINSPIRES WORK TO GET DONE
When it comes to a home office/workstation, it’s important to create an environment that tells your brain “this is a space for work.” If you have a room that already functions as an office or not, think about the type of environment where you feel most productive and convert a space in your home to satisfy your needs. It can be a whole room, a corner of a room, or just a table. I’ve transformed neglected empty corners and nooks into workspaces for clients, so if you don’t have a dedicated room for an office, that’s okay. Also, remember that just because you work from home it doesn’t mean your “office” should be any less professional. Set up your space to be efficient and private. Having a space you can focus in is the most important aspect of having a productive workspace because interruptions can kill workflow.

THE RIGHT SEAT
An ergonomic desk chair is a must but additional comfort seating is helpful to break the monotony. Tech companies with open-concept offices have known for years how valuable seclusion and semi-seclusion lounge chairs can be for privacy and getting work accomplished. Hotels also have seating designed for travelers to work in privacy right in a crowded lounge. This concept goes for home workspaces as well. If you don’t have a door to maintain your privacy, opt for a lounge chair with a high back and sides so that when you sit down, the outside world vanishes and you can concentrate on the tasks at hand.

VIDEO CONFERENCE CALL READY
Finally, we should all realize that video conferencing is here and now. Video bloggers and social media influencers have been ahead of this curve for years, but for everyone else, this may be the first time they need to be “camera ready.” Your desk or workstation should look professional on video. My biggest tip is to never have your video ready workstation be in your bedroom. I can’t tell you how many large video calls I’ve been on where at least one person has their workstation camera set up in their bedroom, and all anyone can concentrate on is how their bed is unmade or that there is dirty laundry thrown in the corner. Before video conferencing, you might have been able to get away with that, but now, you’re inviting everyone into your home. An easy workaround is to place your desk so that your back is to a wall. That way, when you’re on a video conference, the camera has less to see in the background and colleagues and clients can concentrate on you and not get distracted with what else may be going on in the background. Proper lighting shining on you so viewers can see your face is also important. Sound-proofing can be really helpful.

So, if you’re feeling confined and claustrophobic in your home right now, that’s normal. It wasn’t built for 24/7 confinement. Just know that you can update it and make it more functional for a new normal of longer hours inside. The silver lining in all this is that your home will be better prepared for what’s really important—the health and well-being of your family. Ensuring mental and emotional well-being is a primary goal of good home design.

MAYA WILLIAMS DESIGN
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