Staying at home more often? Here’s how to perk up your living space
Design experts share tips on how to make your home a great place to live, work and play.
While Phase 2 measures have allowed us to revel in dining and spending at our favourite restaurants and shops, second (and third) waves of COVID-19 cases around the world are once again causing jitters. As working from, and staying at, home increasingly becomes the norm, some retrofitting to make it a cosy multi-functional place can go a long way in easing cabin fever.
Design Intervention’s Principal Nikki Hunt said: “With so many of us choosing to stay home, even after the circuit breaker has been lifted, there has never been a better time to re-evaluate the purpose of our homes.
“Beyond being a shelter and a venue to impress guests, our homes need to be our sanctuary of safety. But safe doesn’t mean boring as we cannot neglect our mental health. We are social beings and time with friends and loved ones is an important building block of happiness.”
CREATE YOUR OWN HAPPY PLACE
A stylish abode that is the admiration of many sounds like a dream, but one’s personal preferences and a home’s practical limitations should take precedence over blindly following trends.
Jeremy Tay, Director of Prestige Global feels that owners should understand their lifestyle well as there is no point allocating a space for a certain function but underutilising it.
“If one doesn’t really like the sun, then there is no point having an outdoor rooftop space. You should also assess whether your available space is feasible to be set aside for a certain function. A good study area, for example, should have a good source of natural light and good air circulation.”
If sundowners are your jam, Hunt recommends installing your own home bar, which can easily fit into an empty nook, under the stairs, on the patio or in a customised armoire.
An extra bedroom can be converted into a home gym or a spa retreat. The addition of a hinoki tub and a bonsai plant would make the balcony the perfect place to zen out.
Hunt said: “Think about what soothes you best. If you like to unwind with a drink after work, then a home bar might be a worthwhile investment. If your ideal evening is a movie with popcorn, then a cinema may be your ideal de-stress zone. Home spas works best for spa junkies while a private gym may be a great investment for those who enjoy the endorphin rush after a workout.”
Tay suggests a mixture of statement pieces and flexible furnishings to jazz up areas around the house and to switch seamlessly between work and leisure.
He said: “A relaxing piece like the classic Ligne Roset Togo sofa can be placed in the study or living areas to offer different types of seating for different uses, or a change of ambience when working. Or have one or two armchairs with a side or coffee table.”
Art pieces and decorative items such as a vase of fresh flowers or sculptures can also make a space more inviting, yet suitable as a backdrop for video meetings. Instead of a big and heavy coffee table, a cluster of small tables can become a centrepiece while serving different purposes such as a laptop surface and for enjoying a cup of coffee while working.
Tay added: “A kitchen island can double up as a breakfast and food preparation area or a casual work space if needed. It is also a communal place to allow family members to gather and have a conversation.”
“A kitchen island can double up as a breakfast and food preparation area or a casual work space if needed. It is also a communal place to allow family members to gather and have a conversation.” – Jeremy Tay
CREATE MULTI-PURPOSE ROOMS
Mr Shopper Studio has received an increase in enquiries on how to update children’s rooms, create conducive and comfortable spaces to work from home, and even set up a working area inside a walk-in wardrobe.
Its co-founder Kate Deng shared: “Multi-purpose rooms could be a walk-in wardrobe where we make space for a pull-out table or update a dresser table to be convertible to a work desk. Playrooms can be added within children’s bedrooms and areas can be created in the dining area for couples to have proper space to do virtual meetings.”
Play around with flower arrangements, plants and wall art to beautify the background and you can have different a ambience and style for the same space.
Professor Jason Pomeroy, founding principal of Pomeroy Studio, moots the idea of a “flexi-pad” that is designed to be what he calls a “life-long capsule unit”, similar to the ones he had created for the residential units of Sweden’s Candy Factory development.
“Instead of perceiving an extra room as just another room, think long-term about how it can be a multi-generational space that adapts to different needs such as a study, home office or a full-fledged apartment for the elderly or caregiver. In the wake of COVID-19, it can even serve as self-imposed quarantine space if necessary.”
“Multi-purpose rooms could be a walk-in wardrobe where we make space for a pull-out table or update a dresser table to be convertible to a work desk.” – Kate Deng
Bringing the outdoors within can be one of the most cost-effective and healthiest ways to uplift the mood at home. Studies have shown that plants absorb noxious pollutants and have a beneficial effect on physiological and psychological well-being.
Pomeroy suggested: “A tropical climate lends itself to greater outdoor living. If you’ve a terrace, consider making it an extension of your living space to let in the natural light and ventilation outside, or turning it into a welcoming outdoor room with tables, chairs and plants to transform your spirit.”
Apartment dwellers can consider balconies, corridors or multiple smaller pockets of spaces that can be activated into edible gardens.
“One of the common misconceptions is that you need a big centralised space to start an edible garden in your home. While big outdoor spaces like backyards are the most common types of home garden spaces, other areas within your home could also be transformed into mini productive farms,” said a spokesperson from Edible Garden City. “There are certain edible varieties that are easy to grow in limited light conditions and can be harvested in just two weeks.”
Landscape consultancy Vertical Green’s green wall solutions are not only suitable for cultivating edibles, but also function as hassle-free aesthetic backdrops and space dividers.
Founder and CEO Darren Neo said: “Our automated irrigation and fertigation systems make caring for plants easy. There’s a certain satisfaction in watching your vegetables and herbs grow, and eating them afterwards knowing they’re free from chemical pesticides.”
“A tropical climate lends itself to greater outdoor living. If you’ve a terrace, consider making it an extension of your living space to let in the natural light and ventilation outside, or turning it into a welcoming outdoor room with tables, chairs and plants to transform your spirit.” – Jason Pomeroy