Rearrange, Paint, Cultivate: Brightening Up Your Home While Practicing Social Distancing

Rearrange, Paint, Cultivate: Brightening Up Your Home While Practicing Social Distancing

As cities around the world go on lockdown in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, most individuals have been asked to stay at home, leaving only essential workers - EMTs and other healthcare professionals, grocery workers, bus drivers, deliverymen, and more - continuing to go out to keep the world running. Other families and individuals have found themselves spending most of their time at home, permitted to leave only to buy groceries or exercise for limited periods of time. With many no doubt searching for ways to pass the time in replacement of social interaction, we suggest several ways to brighten up your home while practicing social distancing, both improving the space you’re in and giving possible activities to pass the time.

Rearrange, Paint, Cultivate: Brightening Up Your Home While Practicing Social Distancing - More Images+ 13

Costa Brava House / Roman Izquierdo Bouldstridge. Image © Adrià Goula
© Marcelo Donadussi
© Nieve


As you prepare to be stuck at home for the next several weeks or months, it might be fruitful to reconsider existing furniture arrangements and decorations with a more critical eye. Rearranging your furniture now can ensure that you are isolating at least in the best possible iteration of your home. Are certain large furniture items blocking natural light? Are these paintings located in a place where they will be seen most often? Is your kitchen organized in the most convenient way possible? Rearranging these interior elements can also freshen up the house simply through the novelty of change – even if the days are blending, at least something will be new.

As you rearrange, consider some basic interior design rules that could guide your decisions. Well-organized interiors mold the flow of space, demarcating spaces of permanence and routes of high traffic. Make sure that your furniture is placed to facilitate this organization, keeping objects out of the way of high traffic routes and locating tables, bookshelves, sofas, and other elements inducing pause in places where it is convenient to stop.

© Jan Vranovsky
© Barbara Corsico Photography
Mixtape Apartment / AZAB. Image © Luis Diaz Diaz


Have scratches, kids’ scribbles, or peeling on your walls that you’ve been meaning to cover up but haven’t had the time? It’s well known that the colors and cleanliness of an interior space can have a profound impact on its inhabitants’ mood – particularly when those inhabitants are stuck inside for months during a lockdown. That means that there is no better time to finally get around to repainting.

Homeowners should consult color guides, consider the color scheme of the rest of the house, and take lighting into account before embarking on this endeavor. Warm colors, such as red, orange, and yellow, can bring joy and energy to a space, while cooler colors such as blue and purple tend to be more soothing. Black and white paint can make your house feel sleek and modern or induce calm and contemplation. Black paint, however, tends to make a space appear smaller, while white paint often makes it feel larger. Relatedly, the arrangement of darker and lighter colors can heavily influence the perception of space - painting a ceiling lighter than the walls will make the room appear taller, and painting the side walls lighter will make it appear wider. Finally, lighting conditions can have a significant impact on color choice as well. Black paint may be more feasible for spaces with ample natural and artificial lighting than in rooms that are already dark. These are just a few of the many options and considerations for those hoping to repaint in the coming weeks.

It is important to note that readers should stick to indoor painting or at most to easily accessible exterior elements for the time being – with hospitals already overflowing, any activity with the possibility of serious injury should be avoided at all costs.

© Andreas Buchber
© David Foessel

Clean / Reorganize

When you’re constantly busy with more pressing issues such as work, socializing, family time, or other events, it’s understandable that spring cleaning might be sidelined or put off for a better time. Well, now is that better time – and cleaning the home will make it more bearable to isolate in. From dusting tables and countertops to vacuuming under beds and in corners, there are a plethora of ways to work on tidying up. 

One fruitful way is to reorganize those musty storage rooms, messy closets, and overflowing cabinets that have simply piled up with stuff over the years. There are a variety of ways to improve existing storage or to find new spaces to keep things, ranging from organizing drawers with trays and dividers to making use of higher unused spaces to add storage shelves. Even areas as casual as underneath your bed can serve as useful drawer space. This task of cleaning and reorganizing can be both rewarding and highly impactful, especially because clutter can increase stress or anxiety in an already stressful time. Clearing the house might be an effective way to clear the mind as well.

Rivaparc Apartment Renovation / Nhabe Scholae. Image © Hyroyuki Oki
© Quang Dam
© Tres a Uno Estudio

Cultivate Plants

Plants are another interior element that have been shown to improve the mood, increase productivity, and even enhance air quality. To pass the time, homeowners and tenants could buy or grow houseplants, commencing a miniature interior design task by choosing where to place and how to arrange them to best complement existing furniture and decorations. This task should follow similar guidelines as were delineated above in regard to furniture. Moreover, tending to and watering houseplants further passes the time and enforces a daily schedule for those who may feel like they have lost structure due to the quarantine.

For those feeling particularly ambitious and who have a yard or lawn, they could even start an outdoor garden or orchard, catalyzing a larger pet project that could feed into cooking endeavors or general beautification. When creating your garden, there are a number of requirements that must be considered, including lighting, temperature, humidity, and watering systems. If your space already accommodates these needs or if you are able to otherwise meet them, you can then choose whether you want your plants to be merely ornamental or edible to help sustain the increased time spent at home. Common examples range from aloe vera to carrots and kale.

1110 apartment / atelier12. Image © Hoang Le photography

We invite you to check out ArchDaily's coverage related to COVID-19, read our tips and articles on Productivity When Working from Home and learn about technical recommendations for Healthy Design in your future projects. Also, remember to review the latest advice and information on COVID-19 from the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

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About this author
Cite: Lilly Cao. "Rearrange, Paint, Cultivate: Brightening Up Your Home While Practicing Social Distancing" 16 Apr 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

Apartment for a Bachelor in Madrid / gon architects + Ana Torres. Image © Imagen Subliminal


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