How has Lockdown Life been for you so far? One month on from the country shutting down and we’ve all had to get used to doing things differently. Working from home, schools closed, queueing just to get into the supermarket and lots of time simply At Home.
I’ve always run my business from home, so that in itself is nothing new, but I don’t usually spend the WHOLE working week in my studio – in “normal times” there are client appointments, construction site meetings and visits to suppliers. I’ve had to make adjustments too – my lovely new partner normally lives 200 miles away, but anticipating lockdown, we decided we couldn’t bear weeks with each of us living apart and on our own. That’s called solitary confinement and my heart goes out to those who do live on their own.
So at short notice, he moved in with me in Cornwall, bringing a whole new dynamic to the house. Could we both work in my studio for the whole working week? Did I realise just how loud I was when I’m on the phone? And please could he have a space to call his own?
It would be a testing time in any relationship, but add in the restrictions of lockdown and the enforced amount of time spent together, and it could all have gone horribly wrong. Thankfully it hasn’t and I’m sure we’ll emerge from the experience even stronger, but I’m also sure that up and down the country there are stresses and strains in many a household, over space, noise, work, homeschooling and more. Our home environments have been brought into sharp focus like never before.
“Working from home” is an aspiration for many, but if it’s now been forced upon you, is it really as great as you thought it would be? Crucially can you keep your focus? Do you long to work from home for evermore now? Or maybe you secretly can’t wait to get back to your office or workplace.
No doubt a lot of temporary home offices have been fashioned out of spare bedrooms, landings, sheds or wherever, but do you want to re-organise your space more permanently now? Are you desperate to declutter, but frustrated by the fact that the charity shops and recycling centres are closed? Or are you simply now more determined than ever to make alterations to your home that previously just felt like a distant dream?
Yes there are frustrations and we all need to be patient. Witness the fact that at 10pm the other evening there was a one hour wait just to get onto the B & Q website….!!!! That tells me just how eager people are to make changes in their homes and gardens right now. So what can you do?
If Lockdown is doing one thing, it’s imposing the discipline to plan projects, which I think is one of the most underrated aspects of designing interiors (& gardens for that matter). All too often there’s a headlong rush to get started. When people tell me “the builders are ready to start next week”, my honest thoughts are “so why haven’t we been planning this for the past 3/6 months?” depending on the scale of the project.
So make best use of this time to analyse what you really want. Make a dream list – write down all the things you’d really like. A separate office or workspace or maybe two?! A TV room for the kids. A proper home gym. It might not all be practical or feasible within the constraints of the property, but be open to thinking laterally and considering all possibilities.
Designers don’t just jump to the first obvious conclusion, we try to explore every conceivable option. In a recent project in a small flat, I suggested to the client that we re-locate the washing machine and tumble drier into the large bathroom, rather than have them take up valuable space in the small kitchen. I simply didn’t accept that the washing machine had to be in the kitchen.
Gather together images and ideas – from magazines or Instagram, houzz.co.uk or pinterest.co.uk. Try to analyse exactly what it is you like about an image. Is it the overall colour scheme you’re drawn to? or do you just love the style of sofa? Maybe you think the floor tiles are divine but you don’t actually like the look of the bath.
Time spent planning is never wasted and it saves time and money when work does finally start, whether you’re doing a small DIY project or getting the professionals in for a full renovation. Here we’re still mulling over how we’ll organise office space and a home gym and try to squeeze a workshop in. But in the short term, our early morning exercise is 20 minutes on the rowing machine on the balcony overlooking the creek, which isn’t a bad way to start another day of Lockdown Life.