Like many of you, the Curbed staff has been working from home and staying inside as much as possible to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. During this extended time indoors, a number of us have started rearranging our spaces to make them feel more organized, practical, and joyful.
Below, a look at some of the home projects and tweaks we’ve done lately. (Spoiler: Plants and people alike have been yearning to move closer to windows for some light and connection to the outdoors.) Have you made some changes of your own? Tell us about them in the comments—and do check out the rest of our guide to loving the space you have right now.
Senior story producer
I’m kind of obsessed with my houseplants. I’ve got nearly 30 in my apartment—including an anthurium, asparagus fern, rubber tree, rex begonia, coral cactus, ZZ plant, and prayer plants. (I’ll stop there.) Being at home all the time has made me much more attuned to and obsessed with their wellbeing. Maybe this is a result of seeing so much shitty pandemic stuff that’s out of my control. At least I can help my plants thrive.
The sunlight in my third-floor apartment changes throughout the year and now it’s getting a lot more on the south side, which receives the strongest rays. My monstera used to be near a north-facing window and I supplemented the scant sunlight with an LED grow light, but it was still reaching toward the window. Meanwhile, my Hope Selloum philodendron didn’t seem to be thriving in what I consider to be the choice window for sunlight, so I swapped their places. The monstera continues to stretch toward the window in its new home, but seems much happier. The Hope Selloum seems about the same—no better, no worse—so I consider this a pretty solid reorganization.
A month before I gave birth to my daughter, my husband and my mom painted what would be her room in Atrium White by Benjamin Moore. I had wanted the ceiling painted yellow, and a colorful shag rug, and and and—but the time sneaked up on us and besides, an infant doesn’t sleep in its own room for a few months anyway.
Phase two of the nursery decoration has been a slow rollout, and now that we’re sheltered in place, we aren’t exactly ordering any new furniture or getting rid of the guest bed. Instead, we pushed the queen-size bed to the back wall and use it as a daybed; finally rolled out the striped rug we’d been saving; and are spending a few days considering the best placement for the other furniture. Right now, we’ve got her crib by the window and the changing table by the door, with a bookshelf on the same wall as the closet. If we like this arrangement, we may finally get to hang her mobile over the weekend!
After two weeks of working from home at my desk, which is in a corner facing the wall (per Stephen King’s advice), I started chasing the natural light around my apartment. I ended up setting up a new workspace at a card table I unfolded under my living room window, and the combination of more sunlight plus people-watching opportunities—even with few people out on the street—made being stuck inside easier immediately.
I decided to follow our own advice and switch things up by bringing out “special” tableware that I’d been saving for later. Well, “later” is now, a time when I could really use little bits of “new” and “exciting” at home.
The moody Iittala glass tumblers, swag from a press event, look fluted but are smooth to the touch, which delights me every time. And the mug, with the calming pale yellow hue, is a gift from my mom that I’m very happy to finally enjoy with lots and lots of tea.
The two windows in my bedroom are the best source of natural light in my apartment. I rearranged the furniture in front of one of those windows to make a sitting area so I can feel more of a connection to the outdoors while reading, playing guitar, and doing video chats. I moved a dresser into the closet and replaced it with a nightstand to make more room.
It looks simple, but actually took a few hours of throwing stuff away and moving things in and out of the closet and under the bed to make it work. I plan on getting a proper chair when shopping and shipping allow for it.
Editor of Curbed LA
Inspired by photos of Joan Didion’s kitchen in Malibu (that I found while editing our Didion map), I ordered these vintage, collapsible, and very breathable egg baskets from Etsy as storage for my citrus and other produce.
Editor of Curbed Atlanta
I was late on the rush at Target and Amazon to buy actual dumbbells, so I resorted to my wife’s yoga weights and mini boulders from the garden. I’m fortunate to have a mudroom, but the requisite privacy needed to not humiliate oneself while continuously hoisting rocks made that windowless space too dark and weird. So I’ve made my home office into an ad hoc gym, now replete with a stability ball and some resistance cables. I’ve been pleased to find that looping the cables around the legs of the office couch, or the tops of door hinges, allows for a surprising range of resistance with minimal rug burn.
Editor of Curbed Chicago
I’ve had a large empty wall above my couch for about two and a half years—it’s been even more glaring the past few weeks. So I gathered up things to hang that I already had: old frames with family photos, small pieces of art, postcards, a machete from Vietnam, strings of beaded elephants, and two wide-brim hats. I laid it all out on the floor and then I started hanging items from the middle out. And now? I’m so proud I’d almost rather look at my wall than watch another Netflix show.
Editor of Curbed SF
With a living room at my disposal, I made it a point not to use my bedroom as a home office. Sleeping and working in the same confines, which I had done for more than seven years, yielded disastrous results to my psyche in the past. Anyway, I moved a small square wooden table into the alcove of my five-sided bay window, set two monitors on it, added a lamp and a chair. My new home office was done. I have the option of drawing a series of affordable diaphanous curtains for when I need the outdoors as a backdrop—ideal as I’m cooped up alone at home for most of the day now. I also keep a small table, formerly a stand for a budding rubber tree plant, by my side to hold a Sonos speaker.
I usually hunch over my laptop on the kitchen counter when I have to get writing done, but since I’ve been home with two kids I’ve had to hide myself in order to work.
I didn’t discover until this week that the dresser that used to belong to my grandmother and now located in our extra bedroom was the perfect height for a standing desk. Plus the light in there is just lovely in the afternoons—I may never work elsewhere.