Home Safe Home: Interior Designers Pitch Ways To Redecorate For The New Normal
The government is asking people to stay home if they have nothing important to do outside even as quarantine restrictions are relaxed. But the designs of our homes may have to change, too, due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
The Philippine Institute of Interior Designers (PIID) has bared ways for homeowners to redesign the one place where they are being confined by the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic for the time being.
The crisis presents “an opportunity by rethinking spaces whether at home or in public,” PIID national board secretary Joy Jabile-Ejercito said in an event livestreamed in the professional organization’s Facebook page.
Jabile-Ejercito noted that the government’s community quarantine since March gave rise to a “new definition of spaces at home,” as many employees and students shifted to work-from-home and distance learning arrangements.
According to Jabile-Ejercito, the workplace can be made by carving out a “niche in the house where no one can disturb you and you can place a do not disturb sign near you.”
She pointed out the importance of noise-canceling earphones to eliminate background noise (such as barking dogs or crowing chickens), and of adequate lighting to avoid straining the eyes and make the video appear clearer. The worker at home should sit with the back against the wall to avoid having people pass by behind.
An upcoming trend in interior design, Jabile-Ejercito added, is a move away from open-plan schemes, in favor of the use of partitions and separations “for privacy and to avoid the rapid spread of the virus.”
Jabile-Ejercito also stressed that “organizing the kids’ homeschool area is like organizing the workspace of the adults” – with emphasis on choosing a spot where they will not be disturbed especially when they are taking their online exams.
Interior designer Trisha Padernal pointed out the need to “allocate separate spaces” even at home. Borrowing the words of colleague Charlene Valondo, she said that spaces enhance work-life balance and “will help you focus and help you separate (them) psychologically.”
PIID fellow and former University of the Philippines College of Home Economics dean Adelaida Mayo also emphasized the need to make the atmosphere cheerier in order to “safeguard the mental home and prevent cabin fever” as well as provide “that sense of happiness and peace of mind.”
“To me, a safe home is an inspiring refuge in the new normal. No matter how small your home is, remember, a clean home, an efficient home, a cheerful home all rolled into one make up an inspiring refuge in the new normal,” she said.
To this end, Jabile-Ejercito suggested “the use of bold and bright colors in the interiors to help support the wellness and wellbeing.”
Yellows in the foyer brighten up the space and bring cheer to people coming in while different shades of green in the living room “help reenergize and rejuvenate.” Blue throw pillows can provide calm and relaxation, while vertical wall gardens can help filter the air, lessen stress and uplift the mood.
“Now more than ever, our homes are our sanctuaries that provide comfort, a safe haven that provides social isolation, and retreat where we feel protected from the viruses and the infections,” Jabile-Ejercito said.
However, Padernal admitted that it can be a challenge for households with limited space. She and Mayo suggested scheduling the use of spaces in the house.
“It’s more about collaboration among the members of the household having very limited space,” Mayo said. “Perhaps there could be shifts when one could use the area more conducive for studying. They would have to have a break anyway, right?”
Mayo also recommended that people use available downtime to declutter and get rid of useless stuff.
“This is the time you can take advantage of cleaning your home, getting rid of all those useless stuff and before you know it, you have more than enough space for your needs. Some people may not have an idea to organize their space,” she said.
Design does not only help improve mental well-being. Jabile-Ejercito and Mayo explained that interior designers play a role in identifying materials with antibacterial properties to be used in indoor fixtures.
Such materials include copper. Remote-controlled and timer-operated ultraviolet light products, like those offered by Landlite Philippine Corporation, can also disinfect spaces when they are unoccupied (because too much exposure to the light could put people at risk of skin cancer).
Jabile-Ejercito also advised the use of disinfectant aerosol sprayers.
Mayo underscored the need for the “proper choice of easily cleaned materials that are antimicrobial” to be used at home.
She showed several design plans that incorporate the need for disinfection and setting aside packages and groceries from the outside world.
“The front door needs to be prepared: a disinfection mat to disinfect your footwear in case you went out marketing or grocery shopping, a table and/or box to put your things before you enter the house,” Mayo said.
She also cited as examples antimicrobial rugs, counters with sensor-type faucet and pumps, drop-off boxes with UV lights for delivery packages and grocery items, small counters for food delivery with drawers for cash payments, and shoe racks with UV lights.
Jabile-Ejericto noted that the development of touchless technology could be sped up by the pandemic.
“They will be speeding up development of touchless technology that are automated, voice-activated, hands-free, cellphone-controlled. Eventually, there will be profuse usage of Alexa or Siri to control things without having to touch,” she said.