While we’re quarantined at home during COVID-19, some of us are looking around and thinking that our surroundings could use a little sprucing up.
And though we’re all in this together, conditions among us vary. Some are working from home fulltime, parents have their kids around 24/7, and others are isolated by themselves. But since the common theme right now is being at home, what better time is there to take on a few minor interior design projects?
Along with making our homes prettier and more organized, the effort itself can be good for our mental health, notes Adam Meshberg, founding principal of the Meshberg Group, a Brooklyn-based architecture and interior design firm.
“Focusing on something outside of the current events is a mental escape, and DIY design projects bring feelings of satisfaction for completing a craft from start to finish and being self-sufficient,” he explains.
Amidst the tragedies and inconveniences associated with COVID-19, Meshberg sees interior design as a bright side to the situation: “This is a moment when these projects will be enjoyed, as you actually have the opportunity to spend time in the space.”
So, whether you’re craving a transition from working on your living room sofa to a designated office space, an area to meditate and reach some Xen (Ommm), or ways to keep the kids busy too, we asked Meshberg for easy interior design ideas to bring peace to your home and your mental state.
Create an at-home office
Don’t have a spare room to use as an office? Any spot in the house that has good lighting (either natural or artificial) and air quality can suffice. Simply position yourself in a direction that is the least distracting and is away from where you watch TV or eat meals. Meshberg also suggests avoiding mixing your workspace with your sleep space. Even if you have a studio apartment, it’s best to choose a place other than your bed to work, he says.
Desk: Just about any surface that is tall enough to sit at with a chair can be a desk, even a cleared-off makeup vanity. Office chairs can be ordered for cheap online, or just throw a pillow onto the seat of a dining room chair to make it comfier.
Posture: Get a little sore from sitting at a computer all day? (We ask as we pause for a good stretch.) Meshberg suggests using a monitor stand to bring your computer to eye-level, or even stacking a few coffee table books under your laptop to raise it up. Every other hour or so, take your computer over to a place where you can stand, as alternating between sitting and standing reduces stress on your neck and shoulders.
Designate a sanctuary
We all need somewhere to go to get a little peace in these hectic times.
“A sanctuary is any place that brings you back to center, where you can pause take a moment to breathe and meditate,” Meshberg explains.
Hack: Don’t have an entire room available for yoga mats and meditation cushions? Not to worry! Any space can work, he assures. A corner in your bedroom floor or even your bathtub can be outfitted with pillows, scented candles or incense, and dimmed lights to create a calming, peaceful sanctuary.
Build a “school” for the kids
Kids are adjusting to a new normal just like we are. Their routines have been disrupted, and they’re experiencing the hand-washing, mask-wearing, social distancing precautions right along with us. To help them adjust, Meshberg recommends having them help create “work activity stations” around the house, with each area focusing on a different curriculum subject, similar to their school. Another way to keep them productive? When they’re finished at each station, have them clean up by stashing their toys and supplies in designated containers and cubbies.
Reading Station: Rearrange the furniture in children’s bedrooms to create a kid-sized desk. You can even use the lower shelf of a bookshelf with a small kid’s chair, which is what Meshberg used for his daughter in her bedroom. Online furniture retailers also offer a varied selection of kid-sized desks, tables and chairs.
Science Station: Set up an area in your kitchen where kids can create food “experiments.” Lay out paper towels with bowls and measuring cups and provide kid-friendly recipes for them to follow.
Art Station: These are best suited for rooms with plenty of light. Put a plastic mat or drop cloth on the floor and outfit the space with paints, brushes and other crafting materials. This spot works well as a break between math, science or reading time, Meshberg notes.
Math Station: Create a math station in your playroom or family room with Legos or similar toys. Kids can count, multiply and divide the Legos or organize them into groups based on numbers, colors and size.
Gym Station: Stream online yoga for kids (we like Cosmic Kids Yoga) or children’s exercise classes on a TV or computer. This may get them a little excited during the activities, but you’ll benefit in the end when they’re tuckered out for bedtime.
Bulletin and Chalk Stations: At school, kids are used to seeing their work and inspiration posted up on bulletin boards. You can create a similar experience with any designated wall in your house. Pick a spot and post their masterworks of art for display. To get their minds outside the house, build a Travel Gallery with framed photos of your memorable adventures and bucket-list destinations.
Another tip: Chalkboard paint is inexpensive and can be ordered online. While painting a wall in your home over with chalkboard paint may not be ideal under normal circumstances, it can give kids the feel of a classroom and provide an area of fun and creativity for the whole family.
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