There have been a lot of changes in the recent past that affect our everyday lives. Many of us have gone from traveling to and from work every day to working remotely. Many of us don’t even leave the house to “run errands”. Now we can have anything from comfy clothes to food, gourmet meals, everyday essentials (yes, toilet paper is back in stock!), prescriptions, outdoor furniture, even a new car, delivered right to our home.
But these wide-sweeping changes also bring challenges. You may have one or more remote workers and some virtual students too. You may be wondering how to create living spaces for real living; areas at home for the day-in and day-out functioning and the well-being of people living in your home.
Most of our homes will never be featured in a magazine. However, the fact remains that we still want, and need a living space that is:
• Comfortable & Safe
• Pleasant & Inviting
• Accessible & Adaptable
• Functional & Feasible (yes that means easy)
The first thing to do when creating spaces for real living is to do some research and make a plan. Use whatever system works for you; pen and paper, apps, good old-fashioned spreadsheets, mind maps, or even just start the thinking and planning in your head where it is easy to access and ponder at any given time.
Some of the big things to consider are how much total space is available, how many rooms, and how many people use that space? Make sure you include any pets too.
Start to consciously think about what do the people do in the living space (daily routine type things) and how often? What type of schedules do the different people in the home tend to keep?
While you are mulling this over you will probably soon realize there are so many things to include that the list could be endless. Start to categorize these activities — use whatever categories make sense for your situation but do try and limit the category list as much as possible. Here are some examples:
• Work & Study
• Leisure & Down Time
• Daily Living Activities (eating, bathing, sleeping, etc.)
• Household Responsibilities (paying bills, doing chores, making food)
• Sleeping, Resting, Quiet Time
Now consider what rooms or living spaces are used the most often by the most people? It might surprise you that a minority of the available space is often used by the most people, most of the time. Consider this: which living spaces or rooms are usually the messiest or tend to need more picking up and cleaning than the rest of the house or apartment? That may be a real eye-opener!
Once you have your categories you can start determining what kind of living spaces are right for the people in your home. Match up the categories with available space. While “think out of the box” has become cliché, the process behind it has not.
A formal dining room that gets used only a few times a year can become a dedicated work and learning room. It’s easier to dress up the kitchen and table for special occasions than try and “find” additional space for multiple offices and virtual learning areas. The actual design and physical set up of the room should be based on needs, functionality, and resources.
If you don’t have a formal dining room — maybe you have a spare closet that could be converted into an office. If you can relocate the things inside the closet, you can put a desk, computer, and your paperwork in the closet. Then you can shut the door (and your work) away when the day is done. It is an easy way to create a new “office space” with the added bonus of separating your work life and home life.
A small room (maybe originally designated as a bedroom) near the entry door you use most often can become a multi-purpose room. The “grab what you need as you go and put away what you should when you come back” room. The room could have all sorts of things, like:
• Storage baskets for daily use items
• Leashes & clean up after your dog bags
• Mail & returns to be made
• Equipment for outdoor activities
• Shovel & umbrella
• Stroller & a few necessities
If you are having trouble imagining a more creative living space, imagine your home empty like you’re just about to move in. How would you have set your home up then, if you knew how you were going to be living in your space? Let go of the limitations and think of all the new possibilities that will emerge. You do not have to feel tied to use a space as it was originally intended (like the formal dining room example above) instead focus only on what is the best for your family and how you actually use your house. Do not be afraid to continually change and adapt your space as you need. Here are some key points to keep in mind as you set up your new creative living spaces for real living:
• Make it as convenient and accommodating (within reason) as you can
• Live with it before making any permanent changes
• Change up things that may work better another way
• Live with it again
Who said creative spaces for real living can’t be just like real life — always changing, adapting, and definitely never boring!