Now more than ever we need our homes to be a sanctuary, a place where we can feel safe and find joy. My 4-week series, How to Create a Happy and Healthy Home Inside and Out, will help you do just that! And most importantly, you will learn what steps you can take to improve your home’s health, functionality, and freshness. You’ll find some easy and simple ideas that don’t cost much but could have a big impact.
The third week of my series will focus on how you can improve the way your home functions when it comes to space, storage, and use on a day-to-day basis.
It goes without saying but I’m going to say it anyway — we’ve all spent more time in our homes over the last couple of years than ever before.
And this time at home has forced us to look at how we live on a daily basis, what we like about our home, and what we want to change about our home.
Didn’t we all get frustrated trying to juggle our home’s space with others for work, school, exercise, playtime and more. Or, the time spent at home made you think about a new way of living, especially to make working from home more seamless and harmonious.
Maybe you figured out how to make it all work, maybe you never did, or maybe you’re ready now. And that’s why today’s topic is perfect for those of you staying in your current home. But it’s understandable if some of you may have decided it’s time to move — to which I say I’d love to help!
Finding Our Happy and Functional Home
In order to have a happy and healthy home, it’s essential that your home functions well. If not, you’ll end up with a home that’s consistently disorganized, chaotic, and stressful each and every day.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You can find a sense of well-being while living in your home.
And you don’t need to start a massive renovation project. Rather, you’ll find some inspiring but inexpensive steps you can take to better organize and reframe how you use your home’s rooms and spaces, and ultimately find more harmony and productivity. Let’s go!
How Do You Really Live
First, you need to figure out how you currently live in your home, and with that you’ll be able to pinpoint any issues or conflicts you are experiencing. Here are ways you can accomplish that:
Examine the uses of each room. Take the time to really figure out how each room is being used. It’s important to get input from others living in your home. Kids could use a room completely differently than a parent. And don’t forget about how your pets live around you!
It also helps to mock up a floorpan (doesn’t have to be perfect) and write down uses in each room.
You may find that many rooms are versatile and multipurpose. Maybe your dining room turns into a homework and craft area. Your guest bedroom is more unused than used, and has become a storage room. And your master bedroom also houses exercise equipment such as a Peloton bike or elliptical.
Track your daily habits and activities. See how your mornings, afternoons, and evenings are spent, and if there are any differences during the weekend. What do you do each day in each room? And how often?
It’s not just eat, play, sleep, work, exercise, pets but more detailed activities can round out each room like morning coffee on the screened porch; taking afternoon naps on the living room couch; kids’ baths in the master bath tub; going through mail and paying bills on kitchen counter, etc.
Determine problem areas. As you examine and track your uses and activities in each room, you’ll want to next discuss what works and what doesn’t work. Maybe it’s very apparent with what frustrates everyone, but maybe not. Here are possible scenarios:
- Couples sharing space in a cramped apartment or a smaller home may face conflicts over certain uses. Is paperwork and mail piling up on a kitchen counter since you don’t have a designated office or desk space? You like to entertain but you can’t agree on where to set up the bar area or put the cocktail cart. Do you and your partner work from home but only have one extra bedroom or limited work space for an office? No one can decide where your pet’s water bowl, bed, toys, leash, and other items should be kept.
- Living with kids can be challenging due to their many different needs and activities. Is your living room not used much except for piano practice or a Lego build? Is your main living space overrun with toys that you can’t watch the big game with friends? Do you find your kid’s shoes and backpacks scattered throughout the house?
- Homeowners needing a more safe and accessible home can be frustrated over the lack of more user-friendly space. They can seek out Universal Design (UD) solutions that can meet varying needs for young children to the elderly.UD design or barrier-free design is not only having ramps and hand rails but also includes wider doors, lower counters, and other features. This requires a larger budget and more configuration, but should be addressed at this step when examining how your needs and habits.
- Realizing your lifestyle and priorities have changed since you first bought your home. Maybe you originally bought your home because it was small and easy to take care of since you traveled a lot and now you’re spending more time there and there’s not enough space for work, a hobby, or guests. Or, maybe you used to head out at night to restaurants and bars to meet up with friends, but now you want space to entertain at home. Or, maybe you thought you’d be an empty-nester but now either a parent or a child needs to live with you.
Put a Label On It — Redefine or Define
Now that you’ve named and addressed any issues or problems, it’s time to see how you can solve them. And this is where you can either take back a room for its original purpose OR you can officially redefine (or reimagine) the room so it meets your current needs.
Reimagine and don’t get stuck on traditional uses. It’s okay to reframe how rooms are used since there’s no rulebook on how to live in your home!Here are two possible scenarios you could be facing:
- You’re living in this fuzzy grey area with no clear purpose. You’re not using a room for what it was designed for but you can’t bring yourself to accept that yet.Because you haven’t fully embraced its use, the room is unorganized since it doesn’t know what it is or should be. By redefining this room, you can transform it so that if functions better for your actual needs.
Most formal dining rooms fall into this category. Even though you might love the look of a formal dining space, you don’t use it very often for dining. It’s become a de facto home office instead. Maybe you can create a better home office space there for the majority of the time and then can quickly convert it to a dining room on the few occasions you are hosting.
- You need extra space pronto and willing to be creative. To solve your space issues, you need to reimagine a room and convert it to something else, either for an extended or shorter period of time.
Again, let’s look at the formal dining room. Maybe it’s the safest place for your toddlers to play right now and it’s sitting unused. Good-bye hardly used dining room furniture and hello playroom and toys! As your kids get older, you can convert it back to a dining room. Or, what about an entry room closet that will do better as an actual easy-access mudroom — remove the door, remove the rod to put up hooks, and then baskets for storage. Voila!
Take back any room or space that you can. Here’s where you’re not using your current space efficiently even though you have enough space in your home. Everyone gets busy and a bit lazy with their space. See if you can return a room to its original purpose — you’ll get a sense of relief and accomplishment!
This happens a lot with guest bedrooms that end up being dumping grounds for stuff no one knows what to do with. Stop scrambling every time guests are in town. Either purge items or find a proper place to store items in the future.
Create and define zones to keep a room multipurpose. You can define zones within a room that you agree can serve more than one purpose. Sometimes that is the only solution for any space issues. Zones can work well if they are well organized and clearly defined (more on that later!).
A zone is an area or areas in a room where separate activities are going on — such as a family room that also serves as a play room with toys such as play kitchen or doll house; a bedroom that includes a desk for remote work; a guest room with exercise equipment; a family room corner with school desks for homework or remote school.
Embrace outdoor living space. When defining or redefining your home’s space, don’t forget any outdoor space, either a patio, deck, porch, or lawn. Even a small balcony can become an outdoor sanctuary with plants, a bistro table and chairs.
You can even create zones within your outdoor space and designate places to relax, entertain, exercise, work, or play. Depending on the weather, you can turn your patio into an extra TV room or entertainment area with a bar … or both!
Decorate and Organize for More Clarity
Defining or redefining is only the first step to bring clarity to your home’s space and functionality. How you organize and even decorate a room or a zone can add or detract from your productivity and sense of peace.
You most likely need certain items to go along with any uses or activities in that space. For a room or zone to function well and look good, you must visually and efficiently tailor it to your daily habits.
- Visual cues can help make distinctions of zones within a room — area rugs, furniture placement, lighting, paint colors. An area rug can help your eye define a new zone in a room. Paint a wall a different color to separate where your work zone starts from your bedroom zone. Place stand alone shelving in a room to make the distinction between a playroom zone and a family room zone. Or, create separate seating areas if you want a quiet reading zone in your living room. A hanging light fixture over a table, can designate a craft zone or school work zone within a room.
- Utilize storage efficiently in each zone or room for more productivity and ease of mind. Think outer order, inner calm, like author and happiness guru Gretchen Rubin. Strive for everything to have its place in a room or zone, and make sure family members understand this.
Use baskets, storage bins, ottomans, shelving, and various large and small containers that can hold all the stuff necessary for a particular activity or activities. Even consider transforming closets. Remember to group similar items together, like office supplies, games and puzzles, pet supplies, crafts, first aid items, etc.
For example, if your laundry room and mud room are sharing space, organize it well so that your family can easily hang jackets and backpacks on hooks and put shoes in bins, and then consider convenient shelving or cabinets near your washer and dryer for necessary supplies.
Make It a Smart Home
Having smart devices can make your home more user-friendly on a daily basis by making it easier and more efficient to get things done.
Lots of high-tech options for your home. There are always new items on the market and you can find websites recommending the latest high-tech gadgets. Think a device to automatically turn on sprinklers would help? What about a robot vacuum? Or turning on your lights or music with a voice command? Would a video doorbell or smart lock system come in handy? Or consider smart kitchen appliances to make cooking and shopping easier for you.
Up your family command center. And every busy home could use a family command center for charging phones, schedules/calendars, shopping lists, in and out file boxes, and more. But now you can have one with some smart technology incorporated too.
Do some research and you may realize one or some of these high-tech items could have a positive impact on your home’s productivity and your ease of mind.
Be Open to Reframe Your Home Again … and Again
How you live in your home will most likely evolve and not remain static forever. As your needs and activities change, your home should reflect that if it can. Or, moving could be the solution you’re looking for — and I’ll be here to help you when that time comes!
I love helping people move since that’s my job, but I also like it when my clients can reimagine, reorganize, and renew their love for their current home. I hope this information has helped you think about how you can live now and continue to do so in the future. If you are staying put for now, great! But when you or anyone else you know is ready to move, call me! 😉
I'm Elsa and I love freeing people from their old home and helping them move on to a new home. Let's talk about how I can help you!
2227 Prairie Center Pkwy Suite D
Brighton, CO 80601
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