MAKING A HOUSE A HAVEN Design Beyond Lockdown
Those of us who aren’t used to working solely from home have been getting to know our four walls inside-and-out over the past weeks. With staying in becoming the new normal, how would we design our spaces differently if we had the chance? Has the home proved as fully-functional as we would have liked, or has this extra time spent under our own roof made us re-think our priorities?
There’s nothing quite like spending months in your home to really get to know the space. As interior designers, we know the importance of valuing the functional aspects of a property just as highly as the aesthetics – but has it proved to be enough? What would we do differently if we started afresh with a blank canvas?
Rosie has been dreaming up her ideal lockdown space, and this moment in time has left many of us craving more relaxing corners of the home; a quiet room or an outdoor paradise that really allows you to switch off and breathe.
We have designed our luxury homes down to the finest details, but perhaps the office that we previously only spent a handful of hours in per week hasn’t done wonders for our productivity full-time, or the living room that was perfect for having a drink with friends hasn’t also provided a calming space to read a book. Looking to the future of interior design, it’s going to be important to adjust to and stay on top of the shifting needs of our clients.
This may begin with re-thinking the purpose of each room and what we want to feel as we move through the property. It’s highly possible that we’ll be spending less time eating out and more time entertaining friends at home once this lockdown is over; for many this slower pace of life has reignited a passion for experimenting in the kitchen rather than rushing to whip something up. Open-plan kitchens are a great way to be able to entertain and still take your time cooking; if we have the luxury of space, let’s differentiate between cooking and having drinks around the kitchen island, and dining and late-night wine-ing around the table area.
When it comes to larger properties, there is often a danger of ‘giving up’ on valuable space if it doesn’t serve a particular function, be it a spare room, a basement, or a formal dining room that may only see company at Christmas. This time is the perfect opportunity to consider what you are craving – a book haven with natural light, soft tones and house plants; a ‘games’ room to play after-dinner cards with friends and family; a relaxed creative space to let your hair down and put some music on, or paint just for the fun of it? Working from home often makes it tricky to separate business from pleasure unless we really make the effort to be mindful of this distinction. Carefully crafting certain areas that we cannot wait to dive into come Friday night could be invaluable in the long run.
It’s also looking likely that we’re going to be working from home for the foreseeable future, and whilst many of our clients do have home offices, they have a tendency to function more like storage spaces than as areas for seeing out a full week’s work. In place of meetings, Zoom has become the app du jour, and almost acts as a small, nosey window into people’s homes. Rather than having to green-screen yourself onto the Eiffel Tower, let’s begin to curate a videoconferencing corner that is also reflective of your business or brand. Positioning interesting paintings or prints can provide personality, while plants and books might soften the atmosphere. Good lighting is key – both for quality of call and for general focus – and table lamps provide nice ambient light where natural light isn’t available. Also, a beautifully hand-crafted desk lamp acts as a much more pleasant point of focus while you’re typing away.
Thinking ergonomically has also become significantly more of a priority. Many clients are looking to swap their lighter, more decorative office furniture for sturdier, more supportive options as the hours at the desk start to tally up. Classic, hard-wearing desk chairs from Knoll and Herman Miller have spiked in sales, and it’s clear that these pieces are a worthwhile investment both for their own longevity and for that of one’s spinal column. I have a new-found level of respect for smart office storage solutions, as keeping everything orderly is exponentially better for a working frame of mind – as is keeping the sound level to a minimum. For our London clients in particular with more of a hustle and bustle outdoors, considering the acoustics of a working space is ever-important. For smaller home offices this shouldn’t be too tricky; while the phrase ‘absorptive solutions’ might sound hideous, the reality could simply be a new set of luxurious, handmade curtains, or a bespoke rug with softer fibers.
Work aside, it’s only fair that ‘play’ gets equal consideration when it comes to post-lockdown design. It’s impossible to tell how long it will be until we’re all sat around a dinner table or in the garden of a pub again, as social distancing and ‘bubbles’ look set to continue for the foreseeable future. Spending our Saturday nights at home has given rise to some brilliant creativity when it comes to getting social, and has seen off-license alcohol sales soar by 31.4%! Whether it’s virtual dinner parties or 2-metre picnics in the garden this summer, a home bar is definitely looking to become more of a permanent fixture. It could be an antique drinks cabinet or a DIY garden feature with a built-in spirit optics; whatever is substituting your local, it’s a lovely way to continue the tradition of post-work drinks online or to treat an intimate group of friends to a newly-perfected cocktail.
If interacting with people isn’t on the cards for you, why not try interacting with plants? I’ve been taking care of my elderly parents’ allotment since it became too much for them, and as someone who could once merely look at a plant and make it wither, this has been quite a learning curve! Gardening has been proven time and time again to be invaluable for our mental health, and at £11 a year, an allotment is the best value therapy. We dived in at the deep end and planted an array of things, just learning as we went: lettuce, squash, rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries, gooseberries… you name it!
This isolation period has given a whole new value to maintaining an element of self-sufficiency when it comes to food. As well as giving you a wholesome break from your usual routine, it can be so rewarding to grow what you eat – think of every new stem or leaf as a small, personal triumph! Not to mention the lovely, supportive “allotment friends” I have made and learned so much from. There is certainly reason to incorporate elements of urban farming into future design projects – be it growing vegetables in a larger country garden, or micro-herbs from a city balcony. We often talk about sustainability in a wider global context, but these smaller personal projects are tiny, environmental victories that we could all be a part of. So much pleasure from something so simple.
If you’d like to talk to Sarah and Rosie about an interior design project, don’t hesitate to get in touch, by email:
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone:
+44 (0)20 3667 7796.