The difficulties of isolation and working from home during lockdown are most acutely felt by those in small apartments and other confined spaces. Schools of interior design have evolved to help people make the most of very little.
However, these ideas were based on pre-coronavirus assumptions – that people can regularly shop and need little storage space for food, for instance.
So now the question is how people can live comfortably in a small home when they can’t take advantage of what the city provides;
Quick Fixes to Consider
Pay attention to your windows. Just change them up. The novelty will be mentally and emotionally helpful. Put some decorations around them, just something to liven them up so you don’t feel that you’re stuck – that you’re able to make changes you enjoy.
And put your work away when it’s time to eat. Maybe you can get a side storage unit on wheels where you can just put that stuff in and roll it out of sight for a while.
2. Privacy Measures for People needing to make a conference or video calls
Find a way to decorate a little corner somewhere. Maybe you get a stand to put your laptop on and put a better microphone there. Create a little communications nook, and that’s your window to the outside world.
Even though we can now do things anywhere, it makes sense to set off a certain space where you can make calls or do whatever you need privacy for. Maybe you install a curtain or set up just the right lighting for video calls.
You don’t need walls to create separate spaces. You have what we call “soft” divisions of space, and it could be a simple change in wall color or a different floor covering.
3. How to avoid distractions while working in a shared room
If you really want privacy, it is psychologically important to have a “do not disturb” signal. Our homes have always been full of signals about what space is for, and who’s using it – like the frosted glass on the W.C., where the light tells you if there’s someone in there.
In a house that’s very compact, it could simply be facing your chair the other way and telling others that if you’re facing that way, you’re working.
4. Maximizing light in small spaces, especially if you have small windows or little direct sunlight
White walls may not be the best way to go. In general, light colors help, and neutral and natural tones are psychologically more restful and can help space feel bigger.
Interestingly – depending on the size and height of the space – a darker ceiling can feel like it’s further away, so the room feels bigger. That may feel counter-intuitive, but we see this in a lot of traditional homes around the world.
5. Are mirrors another good way to create the illusion of space?
Mirrors are really effective. It’s interesting that some of the best uses of mirrors we have seen are done in ways that don’t reflect the whole room. Maybe they’re high up on the wall and give the illusion that there’s another space behind the wall.
Mirrors need to be functional – in that you can use them if you need to check how you look before you go out. But they don’t need to be big.
There are other things, and the Japanese design tradition is remarkable for this: creating layers of space using paper or glass screens, pull-down blinds, or fabrics. This can work especially well in and around windows. Sometimes just having some kind of translucent layer 10 or 20 centimeters in from the window, whether that’s paper or fabric — or plants, if you have room — can really give a feeling of depth.