For many of us around the world, working from home may have lost its novelty after several months of craning our necks over our tiny laptops.
But for all the challenges facing society right now, perhaps something positive can be taken from the chance to slow down and spend time with our families within the environment we’ve created around us.
It’s never been more important to have a home that reflects who we are, the things we love, the people who we share our lives with. So have a look around. What do you love about your home? What would you like to change? And what can you do to personalise your house or apartment and create the ultimate nest in which to settle until the storm has passed?
Here are five ideas to get you started:
1. Print and frame family photos
The wonderful thing about modern technology is that we all take way more photos now than we used to, before the advent of digital cameras and smartphones. But how many of them do you see regularly? The problem with having thousands of photos on your sim card, hard drive or cloud folder is that they get forgotten.
Nothing personalises a home more than pictures of the people who live there and their loved ones. In fact, if you are selling a property, one of the standard tips is to remove personal photos so that buyers will be able to imagine themselves living there. So print out a good selection and put them in frames all around the house. Another alternative is to buy a digital frame that will scroll through a selection of images on rotation – ideal if you are struggling to pick only a few.
2. Add artwork that tells a story
Art spans so many tastes and styles, which makes it a really effective way to stamp your personality on your home decor. Whether you prefer large, sweeping landscapes or geometric abstracts, striking sculptures or collections of knick-knacks, forget what is in fashion and choose art that makes your heart sing.
For a personalised feel, buy from local artists or, if you know anyone personally, get them to create a bespoke commission for you. And next time you go on holiday – because we will not be at home forever – look out for small works that you can carry back to remind you of your travels.
3. Discover your creative self
If you have a creative side, why not make something for your home? Nothing says personalised like homewares you have crafted yourself. There are plenty of simple projects you can start with, such as scatter cushions for your bedroom or living room. Or, if you are experienced, why not consider making your own curtains?
It is not only about textiles, though. Decoupage a pretty tray or a small piece of furniture. Use fabric paint to transform a plain white blind into something really eye-catching. Knot together macrame hammocks to hang potted plants in. There are so many options out there: take a look at Pinterest for inspiration.
4. Build your personal library
If you are a book lover, you will know how even simply glancing at the cover of your favourite novel can whisk you away to a whole other world. The books you love tell a story about who you are, whether you have got dozens of travel guides, a stack of chick lit titles or every Agatha Christie novel ever written.
Chances are you have probably got more books than you can store, so go through your collection and ditch any that you do not feel a personal attachment to; the ones you did not really enjoy or know you will not get around to reading.
Place the rest on your bookshelf in a way that makes sense to you – alphabetically, by size, genre or colour – then add little extra touches, such as bookends, a small photo frame or statuette, to complete your personalised display.
5. Ditch what does not spark joy
The lovely thing about creating a personalised house – as opposed to a so-called fashionable one – is that it is not about what other people think, it is about what makes you and your family happy. Marie Kondo, the queen of tidying up, advocates keeping only items that "spark joy".
Whether you are using this time at home to do a bit of decluttering, or you are thinking about what new bits you need to buy, keep in mind that personal taste trumps all. Do not worry about sticking strictly to a mid-century modern theme or creating an award-winning French vintage look. Instead, by choosing items you really love, you will create a style all of your own.
Who knows, maybe you will set the next trend among your friend circle.