2020 was a tumultuous time. To many, it was a period of unending freefall as professionals the world over redefined their relationships with work, home, family, friends, and life in general. As work-from-home became the new standard to stave off the worst of the pandemic, millions of Americans moved from cities to smaller, more affordable suburban and rural environments. With schools using a remote learning model, parents had to learn to teach, teachers had to reinvent their curricula, and students were stuck in the middle. And we were all stuck at home.
Times like these, when nothing appears stable, are fertile grounds for reinvention, and what better place to reinvent oneself than in the home? With the proliferation of several highly effective vaccines, the pandemic is finally declining, and while we would love to forget much of 2020, there are some important lessons we should take with us going forward.
Clearing the Clutter
Spending virtually 24 hours a day at home can lead to some realizations. One of the most prevalent was that we all have too much stuff. There were already indications of this reality when Marie Kondo’s meticulous minimalism caught fire the year before. Then in 2020, design philosophies emphasizing simplicity, like cottagecore, along with a whole reality television subgenre of organization shows exploded in popularity, and it became clear: we could all use a home edit.
Lifestyle expert Bianca de la Garza, whose focus is on maintaining modern-day wellbeing in a fast-paced world, says it’s vital.
“Clearing clutter will not only create physical room for your belongings, but there’s a huge mental upside to organizing your home. Clutter contributes to feeling fatigued and anxious, whereas an organized space can bring focus and a sense of calm and control. With everything the world has been through we need to make home organization a priority for our health and happiness.”
Your Space is About You
Organizing and decorating according to who you are and how you want to exist in your space is a big part of Garza’s philosophy. “It’s not about keeping up with the Joneses. The pandemic has taught us so much about what it means to be at peace at home and about what really matters.” She emphasizes incorporating what we’ve learned about our personal habits into our decor.
“I notice that my quirky items displayed in my home bring me the most joy,” says Bianca. “Art I picked up in my travels, for instance, or that family heirloom displayed with pride in my heritage.”
Your home accessories should be pleasing to your senses and personal, not just pulled from a design textbook. “Your taste in decor reflects your personality. That intimate connection with ourselves is something many of us have grown accustomed to being in isolation.”
The Family that Decorates Together
After more than a year cooped up together, it may be counterintuitive, but for those with relatives and kids living under the same roof, decorating your home should be a family affair.
“For me, children are what make a house a true home!” says Garza. “I’m a single mom, and my daughter is my whole world. Our home is sacred to us, so how could we not make it ours together? Over the years I’ve been framing her art and incorporating it along with other pieces. They are my favorite to see when I walk through my door”
When decorating with kids, it’s important that they have input. “Letting them decide the paint color of their room can be very empowering for a child who mostly has no say in the day-to-day routine in their world.” Giving them ownership of their living spaces not only enhances their responsibility of sharing in chores, but it also allows them to express their identity, letting you get to know them better.
Decor as Self Care
We tend to think of self care in body-centric terms. Exercise, meditate, eat well, and treat yourself to a glass of wine and a bath bomb every now and then. These are all important facets of self care and self love, but the environment we do these things in matters as much, if not even more.
Here de la Garza gets philosophical: “Having a space where you can reflect and have quiet time is a luxury that won’t cost you a penny. I like to meditate, so I have a space for that. I also have lots of incense and essential oils I use to fill my home with calming aromas. If you like writing or painting, creating an area to work in is a key component to living well. Things that feed your soul are a sacred act of self care.”
Home recharges us physically, but it can also be an invaluable emotional booster to rest in a place that makes you feel like yourself.
There isn’t a person reading this whose life wasn’t changed by the pandemic, but if we’re mindful, the lessons learned during that dark time can bring light to our home lives for years to come.