Today I’m sharing some ideas for simple decorating projects that can be done around your home during the ongoing quarantine. I don’t know about you, but what started out as something that seemed like a finite challenge, is now turning into something that has become seemingly infinite. As more and more special occasions go by in quarantine, and planned trips, graduations, weddings and activities are cancelled, it becomes harder and harder to consider what, or even when, we can plan for the future.
My husband and I have been getting a little change of scenery and doing a quarantine stint at our Northern Idaho bungalow, so I will share photos from some staging jobs I have completed here over the past couple of years.
Personally, I have been so inspired by the many great ways people have found to improve their time of confinement; working puzzles and board games, baking all kinds of breads and goodies, family walks, learning new skills via Zoom and YouTube, taking up painting, and many other activities that have taken the place of normal routines. For me, two of my favorite things are cooking and decorating. On this blog, I have shared several comfort food recipes we have been enjoying lately under the “What’s Cooking” category, and now it’s time to inspire you with some simple decorating ideas that can provide you with a much needed change of scenery without ever leaving the house.
- Redecorate your fireplace mantel or entry table. Selecting a small focal point in your home to redo takes only a few minutes and can usually be done by shifting items from another room or your decorating stash. Start by removing everything, and dusting the surface. If your mantel had symmetrical items grouped at each end, consider changing it up with a more contemporary style of clean lines and fewer elements. Another option is to place a candle holder on one side, with a small plant or metal bird for instance, and a stack of antique books with a vase or sculpture on top for the other end. For an entry table, if you have a lamp(s) swap them with those from another room, or add a lamp for warm ambient lighting. Rearrange the items on the console by adding a plant, favorite photo, candle, and a basket to drop keys and mail as you enter the house.
- Create a gallery wall of family photos or artwork. Now might be a good time to take a wall in your hallway, family room, or guest room and create a collage of family pictures or other art. With the convenience of today’s computerized photo editing/enhancing functions, it is easy to convert colored photos into either black and white or sepia toned for a striking, cohesive look. The same idea can be achieved using the black and white selection on your printer copier. Once you have the pictures selected and framed, lay them out on the floor to figure out your configuration. There are various options for layout, but one of my favorites is to create a grid by taping off a square or rectangle on the wall with painters tape. Then start hanging the photos from the corners and sides working in, either in perfect spacing or randomly. By staying within this grid, the eye reads the collage as one large piece of art. A note about frames: You can either go with all one finish such as black or gold, but for me, anything goes. The quirkiness of the frames gives it the French salon “collected over time” look that is timeless.
- Rework the accessories and decor on your kitchen or bathroom countertops. Now might be a good time to remove everything from your kitchen or bathroom countertops and give them a good sterilizing and polish. Next, only put back those items you use every day like the coffeemaker or soap. Find a decorative tray or basket that you own, and use it to “corral” items near the stove such as salt, pepper and cooking oils. Then, depending on the remaining counter space, sparingly add a couple of small vignettes with wooden cutting boards, a candle, a pot of fresh basil, or a beautiful cookbook you have hiding in the cupboard. Finally, add a new dishtowel to the oven door. For the bathroom, a tray is a nice way to group some accessories or toiletries. Again, add a fresh towel, candle or soap dispenser, and Voila! These rooms will feel fresh and new again.
- Create a planter full of fresh or artificial succulents or herbs, and place it on the kitchen table. Refresh your kitchen table by adding a table runner or placemat to the center, topped with a tray or trough to hold fresh or artificial plants and/or candles. If you don’t own a runner or placemat, take a beautiful cloth dishtowel or napkin and lay it on the diagonal in the center of the table. With Memorial Day and summer coming, now might be the perfect time to bring out some seasonal items that replace what’s been there for a while.
- Take pictures of your rooms. When was the last time you took pictures of your rooms? Taking “before” photos can be very telling, as it can give a different perspective than what you see with the naked eye. Once you look at the picture on your phone or computer, areas for improvement can really show up. In some cases, the space may look cluttered. The solution for that can be a simple editing job. I did this the other day, and just removing one item from the credenzas that flank our fireplace made a drastic difference, like things could breathe. Other times, your picture may show areas where things don’t seem balanced, such as the furniture crowded to one side of the room. Again, proper flow and appearance can often be accomplished with a simple rearrangement of furniture or accessories, until the space feels harmonious. This trick has worked for magazine photographers and realtors for years, and it can work for you, too!
For most of us, one of the things that makes travel, or even a simple Sunday drive, so nice is that it provides a change of scenery. It appears that many of us will be staring at the same four walls for the foreseeable future. By making simple changes to even the smallest areas in our homes, we can make our environment feel fresh and new once again, providing beauty, as well as a much needed change of scenery.