How To Create Multi-function Spaces at Home
For many of us the recent weeks and months of the COVID-19 crisis have completely transformed the way we think about and engage with our home environments. What was decorative might now be clutter, what was obsolete is now functional, what was organised has been reshuffled, what before had one purpose now has several.
We are having to make conscious choices every day about how we operate in our homes so we can transform them into the multipurpose spaces we need them to be.
As we navigate our way through this new normal, it’s understandable if you’re struggling to find your balance and create, or maintain new spaces to support all your various activities at home.
As this situation extends out into the foreseeable future it can be helpful to remember that this is an iterative process. You can experiment with different arrangements and see what works best for you.
A few ideas and approaches that might be helpful:
- Reimagine what functions your home now serves. What new purposes or activities does your home need to accommodate? Do you need to set up one or more workspaces, is the whole family at home at once, are children needing separate study or play space? Identify which functions are most important right now and prioritise what’s essential.
- Clear the clutter. Make space for what’s most important right now. Let go of excess stuff that’s getting in the way of your current needs. Loosen your hold on random items, multiples of things, ‘someday’ items, old stuff. Can you dispose of it right away or store it temporarily in a lesser used space eg garage, laundry, storage shed, closet space.
- Dedicate zones in each space for different functions and activities. Try to set up a work or study space away from where you need to rest or eat, if at all possible, to avoid blurring the boundaries between them. Physically move yourself to different spaces when you need to perform different activities. When you want to relax for instance, head to a comfy chair or your bed. When you want to focus on work, sit at your desk or table rather than using a laptop on the couch. If you can’t have one dedicated spot for an activity – consider transitions between spaces and create storage to relocate items at the end of the day/ or allotted time.
- Rearrange your furniture. Changing the layout of a room can really help create the illusion that you have extra space. Move your couch out from the wall, turn your bookshelf sideways to act as a room divider. Rotate your desk/ or table so you face away from other household zones, or better yet locate it near a window so you can look out – a different visual view will help add space, change your perspective and stop the walls from closing in. Be creative – doors, curtains, artwork, pinboards etc can all make a difference. Especially when you have limited space this allows you to perform various activities in one space without one of them taking over.
- Create transitions in your day. Breaking up your day into chunks of time and creating transition routines or rituals between them will help maintain a sense of balance between work time, study and home life. Use walks between rooms as opportunities to stop and have a break, have a coffee, or recharge. Take a lunch break outside or well away from your workspace. Signal beginnings and endings of activities (or periods of time) by clearing or tidying a space, ‘packing up’, and transporting items like a computer or bag to another space, or going for a short walk outside.
- Express gratitude for your space. It may not be in its ultimate state as yet but it is providing support, shelter and safety here and now.
- Focus on What Matters Most. Look after yourself. Consciously make time for meals, exercise, rest, connection and sleep. Keep in touch with the people who matter most to you – family, friends and colleagues – reach out and connect whenever you can. Zoom, and other virtual conferencing apps make face to face possible, even if it’s not physically in person.
Whilst we don’t know what the future will hold in this time of great uncertainty, what we can do is cultivate greater agency and calm in our lives by setting up functional and nourishing home environments that will support us to navigate what lies ahead.