In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, most of the country is living under “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders. No matter how positive our mental concept of “home” might be, the new reality of being confined within our own home space for an indefinite amount of time can be daunting!
Given that we may be more or less confined to our homes over the next weeks and even months, I wanted to share some tips and insights I’ve learned from my real estate experience that can help us get through this and even help to make this “stay at home” experience more positive.
I’ve observed a phenomenon when working with people getting ready to put their homes on the market. Following a home staging consultation and staging services using their own furnishings, homeowners often tell me they have “fallen in love” with their homes all over again once their home has been staged to sell! One of my clients actually decided NOT to sell after all!
This got me thinking… if home staging works so well in making our home more appealing to total strangers, why wouldn’t it help make our own homes more appealing and satisfying to those who live there? How would you like to “fall in love” with your home all over again? Of course there are some differences between staging a home to sell and staging to remain at home – for one, we are staging to meet our own specific needs and desires and not some generic buyer. Home staging can be a lot of fun, and staging for our own benefit should be easier and even more fun! Here are 5 principles that can be applied to making our homes more satisfying during our “stay at home” experience.
Principle 1: De-clutter
You all know the drill. Who hasn’t watched HGTV enough to learn that is the first thing that must be done in preparing a home for sale because buyers want to be able to visualize the lifestyle they are seeking. In staging to stay at home, we are hoping to enable the lifestyle that WE want to live. Is clutter keeping you from living the lifestyle you desire in your own home?
Clutter creates obstructions to energy flow in home, dampens our emotions and limits our thinking. Clearing off counters and other surfaces makes a world of difference in how we feel! Cleaning out bookshelves and closets creates room for new growth and development in our lives. Removing barriers to passageways and lines of sight in a home creates a feeling of openness and new opportunities. Our lives can get weighted down by holding on to things that don’t give us pleasure. Take a cue from Marie Condo… if an item doesn’t give you joy, get rid of it!
Principle 2. Stage your spaces for their designated purpose
Your home should have a designated place for preparing food, for eating, for sleeping, for relaxation and entertainment, and space for working and/or hobbies. Each space should be made to be as inviting as possible for its intended use – the way YOU will use it. The kitchen should be clean, bright, ready for the type of food preparation that goes on in your household. Dining areas should be cleared of items not associated with eating. Flowers or a bright vase or pot, or a bowl of fruit on the dining table or counter will make that space more inviting. Sitting down to enjoy a meal in pleasant surroundings has been proven to promote digestion and better health.
Designating working/hobby space can be challenging, especially when more household members are spending more time at home than usual. If possible, is best to have work spaces separate from the room you sleep in. Speaking of sleep, studies have shown that getting plenty of sleep promotes a healthy immune system! Sleeping spaces should invoke feelings of rest, comfort and relaxation. Items that are used for work, exercise or recreation – anything that conflicts with rest and relaxation, should not be in your sleeping area.
Principle 3. Add light and color
Natural light is best, but adding light of any kind to any dark rooms or corners can lighten your mood and change your perspective. If possible, open curtains, blinds. This is a great time to clean windows and don’t forget the mirrors – it helps us see past the problems of today to the promise of tomorrow. Change light bulbs if necessary (of course LED light bulbs are best for light and energy efficiency).
Adding color helps to create visual focal points to draw attention to things that bring us joy. Even small “pops” of color can lighten your mood. Vases, rugs, artwork are great for bringing in color and texture that have significance for you. Choose colors that are appealing to your eyes – remember, you are staging to your own taste! Generally, bright colors are good for dining and living areas, while softer, subtler colors are good for sleeping areas.
Principle 4. Add smell and sound to appeal to all the senses
Smells can invoke an emotional reaction that that has a huge impact on our mood. Certain smells can trigger memories that can bring to mind our own personal concept of “home.” Home sellers are told to bake a batch of cookies, or a loaf of bread in the oven before an open house to invoke that nostalgic concept of home. The smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies certainly does it for me! Whether it the smell of cookies, roses, lavender, peppermint, or whatever…you know the smells that make you feel calm, or energized, or just happy. So go wild with scented candles or essential oils if they make you feel good!
While we are talking about smells, let’s touch on indoor air quality. While we are spending more time indoors, it is important to be careful with cleansers and disinfectants we use in our homes. The chemicals used in many of these products can be very harmful to our health. We are using a lot of disinfectants these days – some of these have harsh chemicals that can cause headaches and respiratory problems. Be wary of air fresheners as they have harmful chemicals in them – natural candles or essential oils are safer. Check out the American Lung Association’s web-page on household cleaners and chemicals, and the EPA’s Safer Choice page listing household products that are safer choices for human health.
Let’s not forget sound! Music can enhance our moods and help us “stay in the zone” while working or relaxing. It can help transport us to other places when we feel like the walls are closing in!
Principle 5. Stage outdoor space.
When staging, remember to stage your outdoor areas to make them more pleasant and enjoyable. When we are required to stay home most of the time, it is extremely important to get outside as much as possible. Even if all you have available is a small porch or stoop, adding a chair and small table, along with some flowers or green plants is an invitation to sit and enjoy the outdoors. If your access to outdoors is limited, bring the outdoors in with potted plants and flowers. Even a touch of greenery can lift your mood.
Let’s face reality….we are staying at home to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy during this life-changing pandemic. Staging our homes can make this experience more enjoyable, and might even help boost our moods, our general health and immunity! For more information about home staging, visit our website at www.SmartLivingLC.com. And for any of your real estate needs, I’d love to help you “Buy smart, sell smart, and LIVE smart!”