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Before her home state of California established stay-at-home orders in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, interior designer Jessica McCarthy spent her days flitting between her office and her apartment.
Now, like many of us, her home is both her workplace and her living space, 24/7.
“It’s been challenging to find a balance, especially as a designer where I depend on the outside world to bring me inspiration,” McCarthy, the owner of JAM Creative Studio, told HuffPost. “I live in a studio apartment, so it makes it extra difficult to do this!”
Come Friday night, McCarthy ― again, like many of us ― is finding it hard to transition from the workweek to the weekend. It’s understandable; when your poor, put-upon living room is acting as your workspace (and if you’re a parent, the kids’ classroom), it’s increasingly hard to see it as a space for maximum relaxation.
How do you make your home seem more like a getaway come the weekend? It’s a challenge, for sure, but with imagination and a few small tweaks, you can make your apartment or house almost “feel like new” on Friday night. Here’s what McCarthy and other interior decorators recommend
1. Put away your office stuff. Then, subtract, don’t add.
The number-one tip for making your home feel “weekend-y” (or “resort-y” if you’re feeling really ambitious) is not to add but to subtract, said Lucie Ayres, an interior designer and owner of 22 Interiors in Studio City, California.
Take the last nice hotel you stayed at as inspiration.
“You know how nice that feeling is when you arrive in a hotel lobby and then walk into your room? Everything is tidy, there’s no stuff anywhere,” she said. “Creating that feeling of space and cleanliness has to be one of the best ways to get into a weekend mood.”
Shove the accessories to your work-life ― your laptop, paperwork and any other odds and ends ― in a drawer or in your computer bag. Those things don’t need to occupy space in your life come Friday.
While you’re in a tidying mood, declutter your bathroom countertop, your nightstand and your coffee table. (This step isn’t much fun, but it makes step number two possible, so it’s worth it.)
2. Find the most relaxing space in your home and transform it into a place you’d like to go on any Friday night, not just a quarantine Friday night.
Now that all your workweek clutter is out of the picture, focus on an area in your home you gravitate toward on most weekends: Maybe it’s the living room or the dining room, where your bar cart is conveniently located.
Wherever it is, now is the time to transform that nook into your own little weekend oasis, said Kami Gray, an interior designer in Portland, Oregon.
“Add floor pillows, a basket of throw blankets,” she said. “Add items for an activity you enjoy that relaxes you ― listening to your record collection, playing cards, games or puzzles, reading a tarot card deck, or flipping through your photography books.”
Heighten the mood with some vibe-setting details.
“Burn some incense, light some candles, roll out that bar cart (or a tray works, too) with your favorite cocktail, mocktail, or wine,” she said. “Bubbles are always festive.” (Hey, you certainly deserve to bust out the champagne, given the circumstances.)
Naturally, good drinks call for good food.
“I love a ‘heavy’ snack tray of finger foods like salami, cheese, olives, crackers, dark chocolate, sliced fruit, nuts and hummus and carrots,” Gray said. “Make your tray attractive by carefully placing items in an aesthetically pleasing way.”
“Why all the fuss?” you may be asking.
“Because it matters,” Gray said. “You’re investing time and energy into yourself and your life and creating a ritual around your weekend time.”
When everything seems so chaotic outside our own four walls, rituals and traditions remind us that we’re human, and that the happy, boisterous moments in life can and will continue.
“Remind yourself that it’s not just some monotonous existence where every day is the same,” Gray said. “The trick is don’t do these things during the week. Wait for the weekend so you feel the excitement building and you can’t wait for your weekend ritual.”
3. Set the vibe with music.
Now that you have a vibe going, set the mood further with a little mood music.
“To make your home have more of those hotel vibes, find the right music,” Ayres said. “Many hotels have their own playlists on Spotify like the W Hotels, the Hôtel Costes in Paris or the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, California.
4. Get creative with the space you have, even if it’s limited.
As the weekend approaches, give some thought to how you can repurpose the rooms in your home.
Take, for instance, how interior designer Jessica Helgerson changes up her family of four’s space. During the week, their home in Portland, Oregon, is all work (and school) and no play.
“We have a tiny little greenhouse off the kitchen that has become the dining room, since the dining room is now my office,” she said. “The attic is both my husband’s office and my daughter’s classroom, and my son goes to school in the living room.”
Come the weekend, the house is just as multi-purpose, but much more fun.
“Our new tradition is to spend the first few hours of Saturday morning cleaning and putting things back to normal, so that we can spend the weekend in a fresher feeling house,” she said.
Now that social distancing has stretched into weeks, Helgerson and her family are getting extra creative.
“We’ve done slumber parties in the attic, dinner in the living room around the coffee table, lunch on the front porch,” she said.
5. Usually exercise on the weekends? Find a corner of your home you can turn into a makeshift gym.
McCarthy usually carves out some time on the weekends to work out. To replicate that experience in her home while quarantining, she’s purchased some home workout products to create a mini-gym space.
“I have made it extra cute by sourcing pink weights, a cute yoga mat and a diffuser for meditation,” she said. “This is a great area for me to disconnect during the weekend from my workspace and get grounded.”
6. Brighten up your space with some blooms from outside.
It’s spring, believe it or not. Flowers are likely blooming in your neighborhood. To enliven your space, bring some in the next time you go out for fresh air, Helgerson said.
“Look for a few branches in bud, snip them off, and put them in a vase of water somewhere in your house,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing to see them change each day, as the buds break and the little leaves or flowers begin to push their way out. It’s such a slow and sweet thing to witness, and something we’d probably never really have time to appreciate in normal life.”
7. Buy a new piece of art from a local artist on Etsy.
To support artists in these tough financial times ― and add some much-needed newness to your old space ― consider purchasing some art from Etsy or Society6, said Grace De La Rue, an interior designer in San Jose, California.
“I would suggest grouping the art together for more visual impact, like this series of three photos on Etsy,” she said. “This will create a focal point in your space and it will also be an easy way for you to invoke a calm weekend feeling to your design.”
Of course, don’t go crazy with too many purchases; as much as possible, you want to limit your online shopping to essentials right now, so you’re not overburdening delivery workers.
8. Lastly, if you have an outdoor space, use it.
If you’re lucky enough to have some outdoor space ― a patio or a balcony, a teeny tiny fire escape ― now is a great time to spruce it up.
“If it’s a big space, start by moving some of your throw pillows to your patio chairs,” De La Rue said. “I would also suggest adding a potted plant or two out there as well as a candle and an outdoor rug, if you have it.”
Adding texture and color to the decor in your outdoor space will give “a cozy and inviting feeling, making this a nice additional hangout,” La Rue said. “Every space counts right now!”