5 Ways to Optimize Your Home for Living + Working by Laurence Carr, Interior Design

Updated: May 8



This global state of disturbance and this need to remain agile is likely to continue in the coming months. When we are able to meet again in person, we’ll celebrate in full designer fashion. But until a vaccination is developed and proven effective maybe in Spring 2021 (experts are suggesting this might take over a year), people are likely to be confined to working from home most of the time.

We are all facing economic and social uncertainty, we have to keep hope and maintain perspective, both short- and long-term.

In the spirit of togetherness, I keep sharing my top wellness tips for your home so it can be a sanctuary while we are sheltering in place.


1) REARRANGE FURNITURE

There are an unprecedented number of people working from home, at least for the time being, and chances are a lot of them have not thought about laying out their homes to serve every aspect of their lives, whether they live in houses or apartments, large properties or small spaces. 

If there are pieces of furniture or household items that are no longer in use and are taking up space, moving the excess pieces out of the way, storing them in a garage or attic, under a bed or in a closet, or donating them are all good options. Clean up your spaces to keep the good energy flowing.

To create a workspace that is not only functional but can serve as a haven from the rest of the world (or just the rest of the home), I suggest that you choose a room with plenty of natural light. Natural materials and neutral colors promote concentration and impart a calming effect, and they also provide a perfect background for video conferences. 

Not everyone will have the luxury of a dedicated home office, and many may be working out of smaller spaces that must serve multiple purposes. But with the right elements, anyone can create a little oasis of tranquility in their home.

One can arrange a desk or workspace to face a window and have access to natural sunlight; it will help them feel connected to the outside world. Soaking in some of the sun’s rays as you work is essential for both the body and the mind. 

For those who are especially tight on space, I recommend a standing desk, since it can take up less square footage in addition to promoting health. 

If more than one person in the home will be using a desk for work or study, use an adjustable chair — or, in the case of a standing desk, make sure the desk itself is adjustable. That way, everyone can have the ergonomic support they need.

Clearing out all unnecessary objects and clutter is essential. We know physical space informs mental space, and with a clean line of vision, your mind can expand to think more clearly. 

While decluttering, I recommend eliminating trip hazards such as loose rugs and lamp cords. Cord covers are an elegant solution for both wall and floor cables, and a nice basket can hide cords while adding visual interest to a room.





2) MOVEMENT FOR CLARITY

Studies have shown that sitting for extended periods of time is detrimental to our health. Losing the option to leave the office and walk a few blocks at lunch hour, we need to be reminded that we maintain our physical and emotional wellbeing by moving. If you're thinking about exercise opportunities inside the home, you might need to rearrange space to accommodate physical activity.

You might want to livestream dance or aerobics classes. You might be inspired to commit to training systems such as Peloton or Mirror. We suggest that an empty peaceful nook for unfurling a yoga mat and stretching or meditating could also be used to step away from the rest of the household to breathe, read, and focus on restoration.

People that live with other people in a home with multiple family members need space for physical activity. This space should have a door to help keep out distractions. Again, sunlight (which kills pathogens) is key—make sure some is streaming in. For some people, with limited access to natural light, a workspace may need to double as an exercise or relaxation space.

Aromatherapy can be useful in stimulating energy too. We recommend you canto infuse naturally energizing essential oils such as eucalyptus or lemon into your workspace. You can then switch to lavender or bergamot, which are soothing and uplifting, when it’s time to exercise.





3) AIR PURIFICATION

Respiratory health has taken over the world news, and thinking about how we keep our indoor air clean is of utmost importance. Working to improve the air you breathe will help you work more effectively and rest easier.

The easiest and perhaps most effective way to improve air quality is simply to open windows. Circulating fresh air into homes refreshes us and connects us to the outdoors. Look at the layout of your home to ensure that windows are only left open when safe. If windows will be open on ground level, think of safety first.

Another wonderful and eye-pleasing way to filter indoor air is, of course, with plants. Biophilia—or the act of bringing plants into the home to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces—has been trending in the design world for years, and its popularity is expected to rise.

The benefits of biophilia are far-reaching. In addition to absorbing and neutralizing undesirable gases and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), having plants in your home promotes peace and comfort. The simple act of touching and smelling plants, or putting your hands in soil, has been shown to reduce stress and elevate mood. Plants are natural antidepressants..

A few couple indoor plants known for their superior air-cleansing abilities are bamboo palm and peace lilies. These purification powerhouses are as elegant as they are effective. Bamboo palm is known for its ability to remove benzene and formaldehyde from the air, and peace lilies also help to absorb toxic gases such as carbon monoxide. Mass cane plant, with its vibrant foliage ranging from emerald green to near-fluorescent yellow, is another sophisticated formaldehyde-fighting contender. It can be grown as an indoor tree or shrub. The ficus fig, also known as the “weeping fig,” is heralded for its ability to remove benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air, all while showcasing some of the most saturated greens around. There are many excellent plant shipping and delivery services. With kids, repotting plants can also be a wonderful educational and communal activity.




4) STREAMLINING MULTI-FUNCTIONAL KITCHENS

While many people will continue to use no-contact and low-contact restaurant delivery services in the near future, most of us will find ourselves cooking more at home. The kitchen, as the heart of a home, is where we are nourished. In the kitchen, we express care for others and come together as families. We often remind our clients of the power of this space; ask them to consider how they can inhabit this space with service and wholeness in mind.

In addition to recommending the above-mentioned hands-free faucets and soap dispensers (in the kitchen and the bathroom), we suggest keeping cleaning supplies within reach. Under the kitchen sink, they can store cleansing agents, household gloves, and hand towels. All kitchen surfaces that are touched and used on a daily basis should be sprayed down regularly.

A multi-cooker, such as an Instapot, provides extra flexibility and convenience by allowing you to make meals while you are working, playing with your children, or gardening. Depending on your interests and household size, you might consider other food cooking and storage options, such as food dehydrators, canning systems, and slow-cookers. A number of kitchen and food-related activities can involve the whole family.

Lastly, because kitchens are often a central point of a home, they inevitably become a multi-functional space. It’s easy for mail, homework, and other papers to pile up on kitchen counters. Organizing these items elsewhere helps ensure the kitchen can remain hygienic, efficient, and above all, a pleasant place for family members to gather.

 5) SMART HOME GOALS

I have long been an advocate of the hygienic home. Designers now can enlighten their clients on select smart switches that work with apps or a smart hub to turn lights, appliances, and security systems on and off by voice command. Hands-free management of trash cans, faucets, and soap dispensers is cleaner and more convenient.

I have written about smart home automation and the benefits of customization and elevating the home experience for families. Creating a powered intelligent home with the control of a single app such as Control 4 with lighting, alarm system, music, window treatment and appliances is human centric design- creating environments for the individual living and working in them.

In the coming months,  Laurence Carr Design team and I will provide as strong a support system as possible to our clients. The role of the home is at the forefront of the global psyche right now, and we designers are in a unique position to help our clients ensure their homes are more livable, comfortable, and sustainably enriching. 

We can help with this transition into and through the unknown. We help our clients be more productive as they work from home as well as help them to feel relaxed and centered. We create spaces that expand in ways that serve the entire housebound household. 

Stay well, stay healthy and safe,


Laurence Carr is founder & CEO of Laurence Carr Design, an award winning interior design firm in New York City providing full service and e-design services to clients. She creates exquisite holistic interiors that promote mindful living and harmony, while attaining a level of sophistication through layering modern art, furniture, antiques and accents. Born in France, Laurence has 20 years experience in design, the performing arts, and fashion. She has been nationally published and is a frequent speaker and panelist in major industry related events.

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