Einstein once said, “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal”. I can’t think of a better piece of advice during this unprecedented time. When this is all over we will be changed. If we’re not, an opportunity has been lost. It’s the responsibility of everyone to try and make this time serve them and not feel like they’re serving time. This is not to say that trying to be productive when the world is in crisis is easy, but setting a goal and working towards something is one of many ways to remain hopeful and encouraged about the future while helping to get through the difficult times we all find ourselves in.
Spending more time at home for the foreseeable future is inevitable, and spring is just around the corner. Spring cleaning is one way to pass the time and to do so effectively you need to move your furniture. This is probably why every spring I find myself rethinking my spaces and rearranging my home. It’s the perfect opportunity to refresh your home and hopefully enjoy the space a little more in the process.
Some of the biggest home transformations we do at UPstaging don’t involve using a lot of extra furniture. Rearranging the existing furniture and adding or subtracting a few pieces is sometimes all that is needed. If you’d like to give your home a new look without starting from scratch we recommend the following tips.
Start With The Layout
The biggest home transformations come from changing the furniture layout. The function should always be a priority but aesthetics need to be considered too. If you have a high backed couch in front of a window, consider moving it against a wall and placing some chairs and a table in front of the window. Windows and doors along with fireplaces and built-ins are focal points that should be left to shine without clunky furniture getting in their way. Perhaps you have an open living room/dining room floor plan and just assumed your table needed to be next to the kitchen? Not necessarily. So long as you maintain a good flow between spaces there is no rule about placing the dining table adjacent to the kitchen. Dining areas can feel a bit more formal and grand when they’re further away in fact. Consider swapping the layout of your living room and dining room if your current layout is tired and each room can accommodate the other. Condos will often have this layout with sliding doors out to a patio at one end, often furthest away from the kitchen. Placing the dining table in front of the patio doors can improve the flow to the outdoor space if a dining table with the chairs tucked in is easier to navigate around than your living room set up.
Edit, EDit, EDIT
I try to remember the words of Coco Chanel before the photographer arrives at each property I decorate. “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off”. Spaces are always improved when we edit them. Spaces with too much furniture in them cause problems with flow and style. One too many accent chairs or an ill-placed ottoman can completely throw off a room. If you’re holding on to a piece of furniture you don’t like and it’s affecting your love of your space, try living without it for a while and see what happens. We recommend baby steps. Try placing it in the basement or storage before it makes its way to charity or the curb, but if you don’t miss it or even prefer the space without it, let it go. There’s no point in improving one room if you’re just going to upset another. Just because a room can hold another piece of furniture doesn’t mean it needs to, especially if you don’t have the right piece for it. We often fill our rooms to the brim with what we have on hand when living with less will work just as well. Plants, lamps, and art will often fill the void left behind by removing bulky or unsightly pieces from our spaces, even if only temporarily until we find something that we love.
Goal #1- Get A Green Thumb
I’ve rarely seen a space that couldn’t use a plant. Sometimes adding one in an underutilized corner is all you need to finish it off. It’s been my experience that a grouping of smaller plants tends to look busy while one larger plant makes space feel more elegant. Consider going with the biggest plant your room can hold and select it based on the general shape that will work for your space: tall and spiky for tighter spaces and broad-leafed and canopy-like to fill larger ones. Fake plants aren’t a faux pas anymore, so long as they can pass for real ones, but buyer beware, they don’t come cheap. In these times of economic uncertainty for so many, I’d recommend saving a buck and going for the real deal from your local corner store. Commit to being a better plant parent than you’ve been in the past and benefit from some cleaner air since you’ll be spending more time indoors. Most tropical plants don’t like too much water and like a lot of suns. Not every space that requires a plant gets a lot of suns but you can get around that by moving it into the sun every now and again to keep it happy. Take five minutes to learn how to best take care of your plant and be sure to mist and wipe the leaves down at least once every few weeks. If your real plant is dusty to the point of looking like a fake, you’re failing as a plant parent. I didn’t make the rules.
Swap Out Your Art and Rethink Your Accents
So your furniture is in its ideal place and your rooms aren’t overcrowded or under furnished, but you still don’t like what you see. Time to think about your art and soft finishing touches. Art can drastically change a space and the rules surrounding it are similar to furniture: size and placement matter. Whether it’s a Monet or an Ikea, you won’t be improving your space if it’s too big or too small, hung too high or too low. Art should be hung a minimum of six inches above your sofa and no more than twelve. When you walk by your art on the wall the bottom edge of it should never be above your shoulders. Gallery height is elegant while art hung mere inches from the ceiling is ridiculous. Gallery walls are great but are inherently busy, so if your room already has a lot going on, consider simplifying the look with one large piece of art instead. If a gallery wall is hung over a large piece of furniture it needs to be composed with at least a few large pieces to keep the scale relevant. For a couch, this means at least one piece should be as big as a seat cushion, and for a table, you’d be wise to start with one piece no smaller than a quarter the size of the surface of your table.
Empty coffee tables and dining tables are a great place to add interest and dimension to a room as well. If you rarely use your dining table consider doing a grouping of different things as a centerpiece to liven it up. From books and plants to candles and vases, your only limit is your own creativity, and even that shouldn’t stop you in the era of Pinterest and Google images to inspire you.
Living a happy and productive self –distancing life doesn’t mean we need to have goals as lofty as Einstein’s. My goal for the first few days of this was to shower and not eat a week’s worth of groceries in a single day. I’ve since progressed to loftier goals like waiting until the sun sets to pour a glass of wine. It’s not about how big or small they are, but that we set them and realize them in order to move forward. Seeing as how we’ll all be spending a little more time in them, why not set out to improve the style and function of our homes while we have the time.
Written by: Kiel Storms. To read his bio, click here.