If you’re like me, you’ve probably had way too much time at home looking around at what isn’t working and observing how, being homebound, has been a real eyeopener.
I know for me personally, I began to notice that while aesthetics was indeed very important to me, maybe I’d overdone it a bit. My home suddenly wasn’t working for the times I now found myself in.
In different times, I could easily put visual aesthetics over basic comfort which, as a designer, was something I could rationalize. Now it was starting to get in the way. But I really hadn’t noticed until I was forced to be home all the time pushing the limits of my square feet.
It was the little things I hadn’t really thought through since COVID. Like, I do have a home office, but since COVID, I began to hate being stuck in it all the time. Come to find out, I wanted to be down in the living room where the windows overlook the garden, but I still refused to work there for fear of making a mess. Wait, what? Fear of whom? And who was I hiding the mess from? Had the nicest room in the house been designed more for company then myself? In truth it had, but I hadn’t noticed. I was always out and about and not feeling nearly as coisotropic as in recent times.
It’s funny, when we all first move into a new place, it’s all about creating the perfect environment, where “everyone” will feel comfortable…well, impressed and THEN comfortable. Thing is, for me, that was several years ago. And to date there’s only been a total of about 4 people over. Yet I never changed the dynamic of the place to be in sync with that reality. Then COVID hit months ago, and I still didn’t make necessary changes when everything had…well, changed!
Then I started to really observe things a bit closer. Come to find out, now, after long working days, me and my mate just like our alone time. On the weekends we take driving day trips up through the Colorado mountains to break the monotony of a housebound week. So, we’re never home a full weekend anyway.
There was a time when I wanted to be sure that in-laws felt comfortable if they visited, but in the last years, we always go to visit them because they’re in their 80s.
So, in truth, all this time, I never got to enjoy the favorite room in the house because I was reserving it for ummm, whom exactly?
Thing is, often when we move into a new place, we do have expectations as to how we’re going to live in that space. And that’s just fine. But time marches on and without noticing, we find that we’re living very differently than expected. And because we don’t notice, we rarely stop and say, “wait a minute!” Muchless reconfigure our spaces to fit those new daily realities. Therefore, we inadvertently end up living like the occasional phantom guest, in our own homes.
Well, I finally got so sick of being up in my office space and finally decided to reconfigure the living room so the people who, you know, ACTUALLY live there…could actually USE it. Dah!
I removed the “art books” and replaced them with my research books. So instead of saying “Great paintings of the world” the spine said, “Social Media for Dummies.” Okay, so after 10 minutes that offended me. So, I took the jacket of the art book and put in on the dayglow yellow reference book. Better!
I transferred my daily working files from my desktop to my laptop so I could work more compactly in the garden room. That took a lot longer than I’d planned since of course reorganization is, in fact, a total domino effect.
Now, seated on the sofa, laptop open, where do I plug the dang thing in? What about my two iphones, my ipad and….?
So, I had to run an extension cord under the area rug and put an outlet strip with USB ports under the sofa, that way I’d have accessible charging for my electronics. That of course meant everything in the room had to move to get under the stupid carpet. Then everything had to go back where it once lived. “Oh…but wait!” Since the whole room was torn up now, was there ANYTHING ELSE I needed to change? Well, we had a bar cart but frankly never used it. Maybe a few plants on it would make the transition from the real garden to the interior a bit more seamless? Yes! Away went the booze and on went a grow light and two lush big plants.
Oops, I noticed that when seated on the sofa working, I really couldn’t see the view into the garden without turning my head because it was facing the TV. Yes, with theaters now closed indefinitely, and us being frequent moviegoers, I finally agreed to a big-screen TV. I mean big! TOO big! WAY TO BIG! I was duped…But I digress…
So, existing wall art was swapped out for a few (even bigger) nicely framed mirrors that not only balanced out the TV but pulled the garden view over to the other side of the room, AND all the natural light with it.
In the bookcase, a few decorative vases were then replaced with decorative storage boxes where I could put office supplies, external hard drives and earbuds when I realized that just the laptop wasn’t enough.
The two standing urns that just, well…stood there, flanking the TV, had nothing in them. Now, fully in my multipurpose frame of mind I flagged them as totally waisted space. Well not anymore. They now contain our fur throws so when we’re watching TV and want to get cozy, they’re right there close at hand but out of sight.
Then, I discovered, that while the coffee table was lovely, we actually never used it. All those places for canapes and cocktails wasn't needed. We use our individual side table instead.
We hate the look of recliners but love to put our feet up. So out when the coffee table and in went two identical upholstered ottomans. Ahhhhhhh.
Within hours, the “company only” room became a very livable space for us, and still looked great. After it was done, it felt like a well-appointed custom hotel suite. So, we continued on.
The guest bedroom never really had guests. It was a nice idea at the time. But visitors we know usually like to stay in nearby hotels. We like that! We encourage that! As a result we still like them and they visit more often and are never under foot. When one gets older, pajama parties, don’t have the lure they once did. Once we let the servants go at the turn of the century, having house guests turned US into servants. (Just kidding, we never had servants, but we DID feel like were running a B&B every time guest arrived).
Having said all that, since we moved in, we’ve both been trying to cram all our cloths into one master bedroom closet. I don’t care how big it is…it’s never enough and BTW, closet organizers take up space too! OMG! Yet there sat the lovely and empty guest bedroom like we’re Downton Abby or something!
Well, now totally into the “Screw that AND them (the pretend ghost-guests we’d been saving valuable space for) plus, now getting a total adrenalin rush of productivity that was actually making our house feel bigger and better…I tackled the useless guest bedroom which would now forever be known as “MINE, MINE, ALL MINE!”
So, I moved my cloths into the guest bedroom closet and now we both have ample space for our individual wardrobes. Dah! God bless being housebound, for the wakeup call! Oh, just so you know, now even with a full closet each, both our closets are STILL jammed full. Odd since we don’t go anywhere anymore and in Grand Junction, the fact that I wear a sports jacket with jeans still gets looks like I’m putting on airs. Seriously. It’s a good honest little town and perfect for us but you’d be hard pressed to find an awning anywhere…if you get my drift.
Anyway, I know it all sounds silly, and they’re just little room tweaks that require no construction or investment at all, but they all add up.
Once implemented they are proof that without changing square feet and paying close attention to observing how one really lives in a space (versus how one thought they would) our rooms can easily transform. Making spaces, no matter the size, that finally feel pampering, more custom and far more comfortable without sacrificing any real aesthetics, is also testament to the power of intentional living. Nesting is a process that’s never done and thinking it is, is what gets us laze, into trouble and ultimately turns us all into hoarders without even realizing it.
There’s still more to do, but we’re getting there and I’m totally into it because it’s addicting!
We’re finally at a place in time where we can all stop treating our homes like hotels with “public” spaces reserved for company only. We can finally cast out the conventions and false expectations of bygone lifestyles in favor of those that suite us and the rapidly changing times we live in now. Today, we can live any way we want under our own roofs. As long as it serves us and makes us, the full-timers, happy --that’s all that counts.
I’ll be tackling the kitchen soon. Come to find out as good a home chef as I am, one does not need an entire Williams Sonoma to make a killer gourmet salad for two! Who knew?
Well, I did…I just forgot…Geezsh!
If we can do it, you can do it