How many of us have spent an inordinate amount of time inside?
While the initial period of quarantine most of us went through has long passed us by, many Americans are still making a choice to stay inside amidst the rapid spreading of the Delta and Omicron variants of the virus. The events of the last two years have taught most of us the importance of ensuring our home spaces are the perfect intersection of cozy and functional, as for many, they now had to work from home as well as spend most of their time within the same four walls.
Unfortunately for most of us, the homes of most Americans were not designed with long-term pandemic conditions in mind; it’s nearly impossible for most Americans to quarantine as the CDC recommends, for example, even if they own their own homes and aren’t stuck in studio or one-bedroom apartment units. City dwellers who have traded the ability to have spacious living quarters for immediate access to any number of activities especially got the raw end of the deal as things started to close down; for people in small living quarters, the pandemic has had serious impact on their mental health.
While there’s little that you can do about the actual square footage of your dwelling, you can endeavor to maximize the potential of the space you have, making your home both more comfortable and more functional. Even though we're well past the quarantine stage, as mentioned above, ongoing mutations of the virus and a slow but steady cultural acceptance of work-from-home lifestyles will make sure some of the changes made over the last couple of years stick. Anything you can do to make your home easier to live and work in will likely pay off, potentially having a better impact on your quality of life than you might be able to imagine.
With that in mind, here are some small, affordable upgrades that you can implement to make your home both more comfortable and functional.
Add Storage Space
This is an especially effective way to declutter small spaces, like studio and one-bedroom apartment units. Studio apartments only suit a particular lifestyle, such as college students or immediate graduates, for a short time, and then the occupant begins to quickly outgrow the limits of their space, especially when spending years in it. Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford much more, especially if we’re just moving out of our parent's house or something similar, and so the clutter that tends to accumulate in the corners of these apartments begins to grow and grow, choking any free space that might have otherwise been there and causing us to feel claustrophobic in our own homes.
Exploring storage solutions can be a great way to cut down on clutter, organize your living and work areas, and make yourself feel like you have more room to breathe even in smaller spaces.
Décor Can Be Everything
While having more of a psychological impact than an outwardly functional one, sometimes taking the time to invest in home décor, such as throw blankets and fresh flowers, can help you feel much more comfortable in your own home. Pre-pandemic, few of us city-dwellers spent a lot of time in our homes, with smaller dwellings being a place where we could crash after a hard workday and cook ramen on the stove, and that’s just about it. Post-pandemic, it’s more important for us to invest in our homes because we spend a lot more time there; so take a look at your living room or living area, in smaller dwellings, and plan out what kinds of décor you might be able to add to transplant some warmth into your home.
Cordon off an Area For Work-Only
This can also be harder in studio apartments, as you really only have one room from which to perform all kinds of functions, but the idea here isn’t to section off a room or area with a door: just to create a space from which you can complete your work, and only your work. When you leave that area, you can then allow yourself to relax.
It’s a psychological trick with varying results, and it will only work as much as you lean into it. Consider getting a small desk where you can focus solely on work, and adorn it with ornaments that will help you personalize it as well as functional amenities like a stapler, a planner, a cup of pens: basically anything you might find in an office in corporate America. Only use that desk to complete your work, and give yourself permission to relax when you leave it: you might be surprised at how effective this little trick can be.
In a world dominated by Coronavirus, we must learn to make the most of the space we have. Feel free to try any of the tips above, as well as to experiment with different things that work for you, making your home feel both more comfortable and be more functional.