Manisha Dokania creating murals on her plain, home walls
Manisha Dokania creating murals on her plain, home walls

You don’t need to look any further than your social media feeds during the lockdown to understand the zeitgeist – the ‘Bored in the House’ challenge has become increasingly popular since its debut during the early days of the pandemic. Regardless of how you may feel about your friends and family hopping on to the TikTok bandwagon, it’s undeniable that being confined to your home can become monotonous and stressful.

Psychologist Priyanka Bajaria, points out that our homes must now fulfil many more functions, including recreation, work and exercise, among others. Decluttering and redecorating your house can transform the quality of your lockdown experience while also being a fun activity to keep you engaged. Bajaria adds, “With everyone exploring their roles in the ‘new normal’, redecorating your house can give a new perspective to the situation – it reminds you of our innate ability to adapt and evolve.”

Rearrange your furniture

One of the first things that fashion entrepreneur Tasneem Merchant did during the early days of the lockdown was to explore how she could improve functionality and practicality. “It’s all too easy to procrastinate during the lockdown and feel lethargic and depressed. We rearranged our existing furniture to create dedicated nooks or spaces that would make it easy for us to engage in constructive activities,” she explains. While the bedroom furniture was moved to open up full-length mirrors for online workout sessions, Merchant also moved her dining table to have it face the aquarium in the living room. “From barely noticing it on our way in and out, we can now look at the fish while finishing kitchen chores or eating. It has a calming effect,” she says.

Tasneem Merchant in her work station at home
Tasneem Merchant in her work station at home

Pankaj Poddar, co-founder of Hipcouch adds that you can pull a lounge closer to a window and stack some books near it to create a dedicated reading space. Such simple shifts can help to create or bring back good habits, he says. He also suggests accessorising your space with personal items such as old photographs or objects with sentimental value.

Brighten your walls

Roughly three weeks into the lockdown, branding professional Manisha Dokania decided to create murals on her plain walls. “I had always wanted to explore wall painting and follow a lot of wall artists on social media. While I had previously painted on paper and canvas, entire walls were brand new territory. But it was an exciting project as, living in a rented space, I couldn’t really redecorate my home in any other significant way,” she says.

Manisha Dokania creating murals on her plain, home walls
Manisha Dokania creating murals on her plain, home walls

Dokania’s first mural took her about three-and-a-half hours and is an abstract design. She then decided to mimic the outdoors, in a bid to compensate for her daily walks with her dog that have now become very limited. “I created a garden-themed design with bright green leaves. I intend to paint on the other walls as well, with different colours and shapes,” she says. For those eager to create their own wall murals, her advice is to conceptualise the pattern you want to create on paper first, before getting started on the wall. Begin with a small patch to understand how steadily your hand is moving. Don’t worry too much about patterns and themes, she adds, explaining that you don’t need specialised equipment – regular acrylic paints and brushes will do the job quite well. Alternatively, hang up colourful pictures and other decorations that are typically reserved for festivals or memorabilia from your travels.

Bajaria says, “Using warm colours that mimic daylight can induce warmth in the space, while adding hues of green can bring about some semblance of the outdoors, an important sentiment given the current restrictions in movement.”

Declutter

If there’s ever a time when you needed to Mari Kondo your home, that time is now. Bajaria explains, “Clutter reduces our ability to focus on tasks, a skill that you don't want depleted when you have to juggle home and work demands in the same space. A 'full' house can also increase the likelihood of increases in the level of the stress hormone cortisol produced by your brain. This, in turn, affects your sleep cycle. Decluttering your space can improve your mood because it increases the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is your brain’s ‘pleasure chemical’. Finally, a logical outcome of decluttering your space is that it makes it easy for you to find things, taking away the additional frustration from daily tasks.”

Aahana Miller, an associate architect at ABM Architects says that she did away with everything that did not improve comfort and was distracting rather than stimulating. “I have accumulated so much over the years that trying to maintain non-essential items often stresses me out. So, I am making use of this time to figure out what I really need and what I do not. Now that I have only the essentials, I do feel more weightless,” she says.

Bring the outdoors in

If you’re fortunate to have a home with a balcony or large windows, it’s relatively easy to recreate an outdoor camping experience. “Ever since we bought our current home in 2006, I had wanted to transform a little space that we have outside the window into a corner that we could unwind in. During the early days of the lockdown, I found that we were using air-conditioning nearly all the time to beat the oppressive heat. My daughter and I decided to do something with our space as well. Although a lot of videos and photos we referenced used plants, we didn’t have any. So, we decided to use the supplies we did have at hand, including festive trimming, drapes and cushions. It is our favourite spot in the house and a great way for us to get some much-needed sunlight,” says producer Shabia Walia.

Turn your balconies into cozy reading corners
Turn your balconies into cozy reading corners

Poddar adds, “Foldable furniture is best for balconies, because when you don’t need them, you can store them away and free up the space. If you have a portable table, fix it to the railing; you can use it to place your coffee mugs or books. Alternatively, lay down a mattress and cover it with cushions and a pretty sheet. Choose the most colourful linen you own. For additional privacy, you could make a cloth tent with bedsheets. Finally, brighten up the space with fairy lights and candles, and add some green with either artificial plants or microgreens that you can grow by germinating pulses and then transferring them to a planter.”

Your home redecoration starter-kit

Simple, everyday items that you already own can help to transform your living spaces. These include:

1. Colourful drapes, sheets and cushions

2. Fairy lights, lamps or candles (regular or battery-operated)

3. Natural or artificial plants

4. Photographs

5. Festive ornaments and decorations

6. Art supplies such as coloured pens, paint and brushes (if you have them)

7. Memorabilia or souvenirs from your holidays

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