On how confinement pushes
the limits of our living spaces’ paradigms.

Unless Architecture Lisbon

To cope with the new pandemic situation, we were forced to adapt to a new lifestyle and change the way we live in our homes. We are spending more time indoors than we used to, trying to squeeze new activities under our roofs and demanding always more from our living spaces.
Those changes can be stressful and frustrating if our spaces are not well designed and enough comfortable. How can we respond to the rise of these new needs and rethink the way we use our homes in a positive way? In this article we try start some interesting conversation and find some new prospective to improve our apartments.
This is of course a very wide topic aimed to introduce many issues that will be addressed more specifically in separate articles.
We are appreciating more than ever how good is being able to spend time outside but having a home that we can enjoy and makes us happy is also a great thing, pandemic or not. Even when this situation will be gone, it is highly likely that we will try to maintain some of the new routines (home office for example), because everyone is getting benefits in them.
So, what does make a home great? Its ability to efficiently host our activities, create memories and to let us identify ourselves in it.

/1 The new activities

Let us then look at the new and more common activities that we are performing at home since the pandemic:

Working from home. Almost everyone, whose job does not have to be performed in a specific place or outside, is now working from home, which for the most people is a total new experience and they had to “invent” solutions to make this happen. It isn’t just about resolving technicalities: creating a corner when you can concentrate, have meetings and be productive is not easy. Plus, your workplace can be a source of stress and having it at home, as a constant reminder even when you are off, can be unpleasant.

Doing hobbies or physical activities. More than ever, pursuing our passions and keeping us in a good shape is important for our mental and physical health. Both things are space and time consuming, especially if every time you want to carry out these activities, you must move things around inefficiently. It can take a lot of motivation away and sometimes it can be difficult separate yourself from the rest of the household

Taking care of our children or home-schooling. Either if they just can’t hang out as before or must attend to their lessons from a screen, kids need they space too, and much more than grown-ups they need to try new things, they can’t be always in the same room and they struggle with concentration and high energy levels to spend. Are we prepared for spending this time with them? Is the house equipped to give them the space and the variety that they need?

We found ourselves cooking more and having food at home a lot more often, with that the time spent in the kitchen and at the dining table has increased (personally I miss a little the open kitchen of my old apartment, because I feel always separated when one of us is on kitchen duty. However, it is highly subjective, because having our own space when we are confined at home, can also be a great advantage).

Cleaning. Yes: more time at home = more intensive use of it = more dirt, dust, dishes, things out of their place. Is your house easy to clean and maintain or does it absorb a great amount of your time? If cleaning is difficult, it is more likely that the space becomes messy and unpleasant. There are ways to improve that, among them minimalism and a good cleaning routine are some of the best options (and cleaning robots! Best friends).

/2 New memories and experiences

There is nothing worst that feeling trapped in a place or situation, willing to be somewhere else. The best way to reconnect with our home and to love being there (other than investing our energies and efforts in it) is to intentionally create new memories and good experiences in it.
We should not accept passively any condition we are in but embrace it and make it ours.
Dedicate some time and planning to create beautiful new memories, if it is the case, put some objects or mementos that remember you about these moments in the house itself.
Celebrate, make something unusual, invent new rituals, motivate yourself and your family to take the best out of this situation.

That bring us to the third point…

/3 Identity and well-being

The name on the doorbell is clearly not enough. What makes a house our home? We already talked about memories and that is a big part, but not everything.
We can personalize the rooms according to our taste, choosing a style that reflects ourselves. We can adapt its functionality to our needs and activities. We can invest in creating a space that makes us proud and inspire us every day.
We should not own too many things, but the things we own should give us pleasure and we should expose them, give the importance, and place they deserve.

The old paradigms.
Identifying the problem means improvement opportunity

To fully take advantage of the space we have and successfully adapt our apartments to our new needs, make a step backwards and see what issues are working against this process. We inherited some cultural misconceptions:

/One room one function (and one furniture one function)

That is a luxury that we cannot afford anymore: how many hours a day do we actually use a room? Can the dining area be used as an office? Can the bed be moved and leave place for our fitness routine? Can we cook and chill on the sofa in the same place? Can have a place for videocalls, that does not interfere with the others’ activities? Sure, there is for “room” for improvement (pun intended).

/Invest too little in our home and furniture

Somehow, we like to spend our money elsewhere: car, smartphone, holidays, clothes and so on… And then buy cheap furniture and never upgrade it. Our home is a crucial hardware to support our activities and its style and quality are important to us if we want to achieve a space, we identify ourselves into. So, invest in your home and adopt solutions that allows you to take the most out of your space.

/Keep things even if we do not use them often

Big issue. It is difficult to be conscious about the things we possess, but it becomes crucial to create a healthy environment and a house easy to live into. Every object adds like an upkeep fee on ourselves: we only have that much square meters and everything takes up space, our living space as well as place for something else. Things demand maintenance and ultimately disrupt tranquillity and tidiness. Decide where your money and energy are better invested.

/It is our home therefore we know best: no help needed

Kind of, but ultimately… no. Sure, you are the one who should state what is most important and address that you need to improve something, but the consultancy of a professional is what is needed to properly address the problem, propose the best alternatives and execute in details the final solution, so that the results are granted.

Should we consider doctors the way we consider architects, we would do us a lot of harm, even when it is our body and not theirs. So, go ask for advice, lay out a plan, trust an architect, and enjoy your improved home and easier life.

/Making design or architectural changes is difficult and complicated

To what degree and how long are you willing to conform yourself to an uncomfortable situation, to a house that is not working properly for you but against you, to a continuous source of stress for you and your family. Depending to the extent of the plan, the mere renovation can last from some weeks to a couple of months. The longer part is planning and finding the solutions, but someone can do that for you: so, why hold on? You should start right now with the project, have it ready and then realize it anytime, when you feel to. Planning your home can be an exciting distraction during those times, much better than Netflix!

Taking action: small steps

Don’t feel overwhelmed: just try to state what your needs are or what bothers you, start with something simple, gradually make a plan with a professional and get going: you’ll be surprised, how far you’ve got.
Is it about reconcile different activities? Like working at the same time, resting, doing sport, entrainment.
Is it about finding a dedicated space for something new? Home office, playground, fitness.
Is it about improving your home or giving it a new look? Decluttering, more functionality, more storage, new style.
Try focusing on the result and the benefits and visualize how your life in the improved home can be.


Sometimes all it takes is just repurpose a corner in your living room with custom furniture, sometimes you’ll have to rethink substantially how you use your space and turn to an architect for a creative insight or a technical upgrade. Either way be conscious that any improvement you make in the space you live in, will translate in an improvement in your wellness, productivity, and happiness.
One thing is for sure: you will not see any progress, unless you start doing something about it.

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