- Michelle Ogundehin, an internationally renowned authority on interiors, shares her top tips for creating a calming atmosphere at home
- The ‘race for space’ since working from home is affecting home renovation trends as homeowner demand for garden offices and studio construction soars by 139%
New data from find-a-tradesperson platform Rated People has revealed that, even with a potential ending of restrictions in sight, the changes brought about by the pandemic continue to have a huge influence on our home renovation projects.
Previous lockdowns have highlighted the impact that spending more time at home can have on our mental health, especially when we are working from home and mixing our professional and personal lives. All the additional time spent indoors since last March has sparked a ‘renovation revolution’ with more than half of homeowners (51%) in the UK set to enhance their homes this year.
In particular, the ongoing ‘race for space’ has become a key motivation behind this boom in home renovations. Homeowners are clearly feeling the need to add additional space in order to better prepare their homes for the ‘new normal’ and ensure they have dedicated work areas which are separate to communal living areas. Principally, this means banishing work stations from the home where possible. Rated People has seen record demand for garden offices and studio constructions over the last two months, with enquiries soaring by 139%.
But, adapting our homes so it’s a nicer experience to work where we live, is not just confined to those with room to grow. Homeowners across the board are also reassessing how they can use existing space more efficiently. Garages appear to be increasingly seen as ‘dead’ space and could well become a thing of the past for many properties. Instead, demand for garage conversions has rocketed by 92%, as we look to get some privacy for our own mental well-being and transform them into home offices, or in other cases, bedrooms.
From affecting our circadian rhythm, to stimulating the release of cortisol, our homes have a big impact on our health. And, creating a comfortable and healthy home that can support your well-being is achievable with some simple ‘home hacks’. Rated People has teamed up with internationally renowned architect and interior designer, Michelle Ogundehin to share her top tips on creating a calming space:
- Discover your palette. Take the time to work out your favourite colours, patterns, materials and finishes. Dark hues or pale? Smooth surfaces or textured? Big bouncy florals or more demure stripes? Ideally a super textural mix of everything. The point being, once you identify the things that make your heart sing, you tap into who you really are, and therein lies the key to creating a truly mindful space.
- Authenticity is everything! Forget trends, dismiss must-haves, and ignore what the pollsters say, the only thing that matters about the way you decorate your home is that you love it. So purple polka dots and glittery cushions? Excellent! Leopard print and pom poms galore? Brilliant. This is your private and personal corner of the world, so don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
- Lower your toxic burden. A clean home is a calm home, and it starts with good air quality. Bin candles made from paraffin wax (most cheap ones are I’m afraid) and welcome essential oil burners or plant-based wax candles instead. Look for low toxicity paints. And watch your cleaning products too. If it necessitates a warning symbol on the back, you do not want it in your home. You are what you breathe, safer alternatives exist.
- Clear the clutter. Mess equals stress. And while some gifted individuals may be able to work among chaos, for the majority of us, it’s impossible to concentrate or find any semblance of peace if surrounded by detritus. And by this, I mean things that make no active contribution to your life — broken things, annoying things (like jugs which dribble), unused things. Banish such items and you get rid of stagnancy from your home.
- Keep the energy moving. When we understand our homes as capable of affecting how we feel, it makes sense to keep them charged with life and vitality. This is all about engendering flow aka a state of brilliant balance. So, from regularly flinging wide your windows to keep fresh air circulating, to choosing rounded forms for your furniture rather than pieces with pointy corners (especially for low tables), the idea is to be able to move about your home without impediment, and for no corner ever to gather dust.
Michelle Ogundehin is also the author of Happy Inside: How to harness the power of home for health and happiness. The book explores how our environment is fundamental to our wellbeing.
Adrienne Minster, CEO of Rated People added:
“With flexible working arrangements becoming the norm, homeowners are rethinking their home designs to better accommodate both their work and home lives. Space is more important than ever and we’re wanting to make sure every inch is being put to good use. Converting areas that might be used less often, like sheds, garages and outhouses, can be a great way to get some additional room and these types of improvements have become really popular with homeowners.
Spending more time at home has also made us more aware of how our surroundings can impact our health and well-being. While many of us have come to value the flexibility that working from home offers, it can easily lead to a blurring of where work ends, and our social lives begin. Putting more thought into how we divide and decorate our spaces can make a big difference to our mindsets. Simple steps like avoiding clutter and clearly zoning work and living areas can help create homes that are not only efficient but good for us too.”