Heat map your home
The key to creating a happier family home can lie in maximising each room, and making sure everyone has their own space – now more than ever. This approach can also help you to rethink an unloved room. ‘We use a technique called heat-mapping to work out whether there are too many functions crammed into one area of a house,’ says interior designer Staffan Tollgård. ‘We take the plan of the house and colourcode it to describe the functions that will happen there – generally work, homework, dining, entertaining, cooking and hobbies. If too many functions overlap, we call that area of the home overheated, or red. Usually there will be an area that’s also too cool – blue – which is often a dining room, so we try to shift a few of the other functions into that space. When we identify a cool room, we often change the function to something more fun, such as a play area for the children or a ping-pong room.’
Find your palette
Interior designer Sophie Robinson’s approach is based on colour psychology: working out which shades make you happy. It’s not necessarily about what you like in pictures, but the spaces you feel good in. That black kitchen might look striking on Instagram, but do you prefer the experience of a bright, light room when making your morning coffee?
Robinson thinks in terms of four palettes linked to the seasons: spring is bright, poppy pastels; summer is warm neutrals and natural materials; autumn is rich shades such as forest green, plum and terracotta; and winter is sharp contrasts like black and white with the odd shot of bold colour. Once you’ve hit on which one suits you, you can be more confident when making decor decisions. For online courses, visit Sophie Robinson.
Make material change
Adding fabric in a cheerful pattern instantly lifts a room, and it doesn’t have to involve being crafty with a sewing machine. A metre or two can be draped over a tatty side table to upgrade it, or used as a cloth on the dining table – particularly good for effecting a ‘daytime to dinner’ transformation if yours is currently doubling as a desk.
Find a bargain on a website selling fabric offcuts, such as Haines Collection, which sells surplus highend fabrics from interior-design and manufacturing projects, which would otherwise have gone to landfill, for half the retail price or less. You’ll get a great deal on fabrics from brands such as Penny Morrison and Christopher Farr, and you’ll be helping to reduce waste at the same time – feel-good all round.
Sign up to a flower-subscription service such as Freddie’s Flowers to have seasonal blooms delivered to your door, or order from Kitten Grayson, who is donating a percentage of each sale to NHS appeals.
Take your home on holiday
‘We can’t travel right now, but there’s no reason you can’t create a holiday feeling at home,’ says Sue Jones, co-founder of homeware brand Oka. ‘Think of all the things you’ve brought back over the years – lanterns, prints, ornaments – and arrange them in your sitting room or kitchen to be reminded of those trips. I like to create the setting itself: hang a rug on the wall and you could be in a Moroccan souk. Or take your pottery out of the cupboards and display it on your bookshelves for a while, for a Mediterranean feel. A change of scene always brightens your mood.’
Put the things you love on display
Put your favourite things in places where you get to see and use them more often. Move your best china to a cupboard where you can reach it easily, and use it every day. Or simply rearrange what you have on display: ‘Gather all your favourite things and then redistribute them around the house,’ says interior designer Nicole Salvesen. ‘Swapping things around is invigorating; it makes you feel like you’re moving forward.’ Interior designer Suzy Hoodless suggests using a coffee table or footstool as a display space, right in the middle of your sitting room, where you’ll see it often. ‘Fill your table or ottoman with your latest books and favourite objects,’ she says. ‘It’s like a rotating diary of things you love.’
Create a place for pastimes
Many of us will have embarked on a new hobby during lockdown, whether that’s baking, sewing or painting. As interior designer Martin Waller points out, ‘Now is a chance to design our homes around the lives we want to lead. Take the time to consider how you would like to use different parts of your home and then design your space around these functions.’ If baking has become your new passion, set up a baking station using part of the worktop, or a breakfast bar, with a dedicated cupboard for ingredients and tools. If it’s sewing or crafts, set up a table, chair and lamp, with a big basket for supplies; for painting, find a spot near a window for an easel with a view. If you can create a space for something you enjoy doing, it will become a part of your home that it feels good to be in, now and in the future.
Let more light in
Natural light is a known moodbooster, so remove any obstructions from the windows, such as large pieces of furniture that block the light, and make sure curtains can be pulled or tied right back. Then make the most of the view, whether it’s of rolling fields, your own garden or the street. While our movements are restricted, Sophie Robinson suggests, ‘rearrange furniture so that you can appreciate the view outside, rather than what’s in the room.
Think about where in your home you can put a comfortable seat – perhaps on the landing, or in your bedroom – so you’ve got some – where to sit and see out.’ Robin – son also advises making a ritual of opening the windows each morning: ‘It might be obvious, but for me it has been a revelation,’ she says. ‘Experts such as Oliver Heath [a specialist in sustainable architecture and interior design] have spoken about the importance of air circulation and ventilation in the home. Now I go into every single room in the morning and open a window; even some – thing as simple as that can be enough to lift the mood.