How to spruce up your home to banish pandemic winter blues

Rearranging your furniture, renovating or even adding a coat of paint could make your 24/7 home time more bearable

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      In the last eight months, most of us have become very familiar with every square inch of our living spaces.

      With winter coming, things are only going to become more claustrophobic: windows will be closed, there will be less access to the outdoors.

      Here are some tips on how to fix up your home and make it more interesting so you can banish those inevitable winter pandemic blues. 

      Rearrange your furniture

      Early on in the pandemic, working from home forced many people to create quick makeshift desk areas. Well, guess what? The dining-room-table solution isn’t going to cut it any more.

      “There were days when I thought I was going to go insane,” says Rebecca, a mother of two who works in marketing. In the spring, she, her husband (both of them have office jobs) and two school-age children were all working at the dining room table. “I couldn’t hold a thought in my head. Everybody was asking each other questions, or talking over each other. One of the kids would be humming under their breath.” 

      Their solution was to buy a desk for her husband and put it in the living room, and to declutter a desk in the basement for her. (It also gives her privacy.) The kids, one of whom has a desk in his bedroom, alternate between working at the dining room table and kitchen table—they enjoy working with people around.

      They also got rid of a bulky ottoman and replaced it with one that can be easily moved to make more room for other activities, like an online exercise class.

      Renovate or paint

      Renna Reddie, a former theatre producer and current stylist, recently renovated parts of her condo after her dishwasher flooded her kitchen.

      She and partner Nick Reynoldson, a stand-up comic, expanded their existing kitchen cabinets, making good use of vertical space so the top shelves could be used for seasonal items.

      Renna Reddie

      The pair’s bedroom is windowless (though it opens to a bright living area), so to create the illusion of light, they’re experimenting with lamps and have installed a laminate gold on their walls to act as a crown moulding, which they bought from IKEA. 

      “We’re going to see how the light from the other room and the lamps hits the gold and creates ambience,” she says. “It will be different in winter and summer. But it’s not permanent yet.”

      Even a couple of coats of paint can revitalize your living space.

      “I painted the shit out of my place,” says Ali Eisner, a director, writer, and puppeteer. “There’s a lot of crazy colour happening. They’re random walls of wild accent that I never would have added before, and they’re bringing joy, uplift, and inspiration.” 

      Take care of appliances, wiring, WiFi

      If you have a burner on your stove that doesn’t work or a broken faucet, now’s the time to fix them. Who knows what lockdown measures there will be if the pandemic worsens. Make sure you have replacement light bulbs for all your appliances; you don’t want to have to do it during a storm.

      And your work-from-home situation is probably straining your internet usage. 

      Rebecca and her family had out-of-date hardware for their internet connection. Early on in the pandemic, they experienced lots of dropped Zoom calls. During the spring lockdown, Rogers couldn’t send over a service person to install new hardware. In September, she called Rogers again and they arranged to drop off new hardware, which she and her husband installed themselves. 

      Keep in mind that work-from-home situations have meant electrical cords for laptops and lamps are probably snaking around in places they never used to. Buying an extension cord and finding efficient ways of hiding those ugly and potentially hazardous cords makes a great project.

      Get outdoors 

      Just because the colder weather is here doesn’t mean you can’t keep using your outdoor space. 

      “We bought patio heaters so we can have the children’s grandmother come over and sit outside and visit,” says Rebecca. “We ordered them in July and they came in August, before the rush of orders. There are also blankets for sitting out there.”

      And Eisner has installed a fire pit and hammock outside their living area. 

      “It’s illegal to have a fire pit, but I keep a baked potato on there and if cops come around, I tell them I’m barbecuing.” 

      Get some plants 

      Even if you don’t have any outdoor space, buying a house plant will boost your spirits during winter.

      An aloe vera or jade plant will add colour to any living area, and watching it grow will add variety and a bit of excitement to your life, even if it feels like everything else has become routine.