Hello and welcome to my show notes for the second episode in the ninth season of The Great Indoors. I just wanted to say thanks to all you listeners out there for sticking with us and please do rate and review if you can – it really does make all the difference. Also a big high five to all of you over on our Facebook group which is alive with lots of interior inspiration, advice and creativity.
For today’s episode, we thought we would reflect on the pandemic and consider the longer lasting changes for the way we live and work, you can listen to the full episode here.
Increased time at home has really challenged us all to really re-think and evaluate our environment, especially our work situation. I’ve always worked from home so little had changed for me, although I’ve now been joined by my husband Tom. However it was when I went to London to record the recent podcast episode at Skye McAlpine’s house that I realised how many people still aren’t traveling by train to work. So more time spent working and being at home really challenges the way we use and feel about them.
It’s my turn for some stats now – move over Kate!
According to the Office for National Statistics as of September 2020:
We had touched on this before when we spoke to Matt Gibberd founding director of The Modern House in episode 6 Series 8, when he said that there was a huge number of enquiries from people who want to live and work more flexibly so want a larger property to be able to have a dedicated home office space.
Kate was sent a survey by the flat-sharing site SpareRoom and they found that there has been a considerable increase in the demand for having a garden and being nearer to green open spaces. Priorities used to be ‘a small flat close to the strain station’ but now it’s about having more space with 54% wanting to be within a 10-minute walk to a park or half an hour from the open countryside. There has been a whopping 98% increase in demand for gardens and 96% increase in demand for balcony or patio. So it seems that people don’t imagine this way of life will change any time soon and so we are looking at adapting our homes to accommodate it.
The Flexible Living Report: Redefining The UK’s Homes For a New Chapter in Twenty-First Century Living by John Lewis found that one in five of us have created spaces in our homes for ourselves or others to be alone. This could be as simple as a cosy chair in a hallway, a comfortable cushion on a window seat or adding candles and houseplants in the bathroom for ‘me time’. They say the remote work solution has become part of everyday life and see every room in the home as a potential place to work – 1/3 on the sofa and nearly 1 in 10 work in their bathroom. Perhaps they are the parents of toddlers who just need a door they can lock!
So it seems that working from home is here to stay and if space is not on your side, it’s time to be inventive on how you use your rooms, so perhaps multi-purpose furniture is the way forward. I think it’s fair to say that none of us expected the lockdown to last as long as it did or indeed the knock-on effect, so we probably thought it was fine to perch on the sofa with a laptop to start with. But now 6 months on, we find ourselves working from home so it’s essential that we find the discipline to make the transition from workspace to living space – whether that’s folding a table, pushing it back against the wall – just make it your relaxing space again.
I would actually love to have a garden office and according to a Guardian article, I dug out, research by Direct Line home insurance found that since the start of lockdown over 1 million homeworkers have splashed out on a shed – or should I say ‘shoffice.’ Yes that’s what the garden office is now referred to! Not sure it will catch on in the Mad household.
It is difficult to make a home office work within your home and most of us that do, will be working on a laptop and it’s just easy to plonk ourselves wherever we have a bit of space. It’s worth trying to create some storage space to house the printer and other office supplies and then you can hot desk around the house. As Kate pointed out, you might like a particular spot in the morning as that’s where the sun is, you can be more productive by sitting in a nice place in the house. You need to have a space that is inspirational as well as functional and it needs to be presentable for all those Zoom meetings! Not sure many people will want to look at your dirty laundry or the mess the kids have just made!
We kick off with one of my favourites, House of Print by Molly Mahon, one of my favourite designers, I have one of her gorgeous hand-blocked wallpapers in the spare bedroom. I love this book firstly because Molly is a fellow colour and pattern lover and it really is a joyful book. It is split into two halves – the first half is about her inspirations and creativity and the second half is a practical guide to block printing (or as Kate puts it “posh potato printing”) I’ve never tried it but I think it looks very satisfying and you get beautiful results, check out Molly’s Instagram account @mollymahonblockprinting. This is a real celebration of craftsmanship and inspires you to create unique accents to your home.
Next up is Home for the Soul by Sara Bird and Dan Duchars – a meeting of great interior minds. Sara has worked on Ideal Home and Country Homes & Interiors so knows her stuff and Dan is a fantastic interiors photographer.
What a great subject to cover and because of Sara’s extensive experience she doesn’t just about sustainability, she covers all bases – paints, wallpapers, texture and textiles, all the sustainable mindset. Now it is a neutral book, shining a light on all things natural, wood and vintage, Kate argued she would have liked to have seen a bit more colourful sustainability – how the tables have turned! You know me and colour but I think the monotone vibe aids a very restful and calming space which aids wellbeing.
This is all about things in their natural state, natural light, natural texture with no chemical enhancements, so if this look resonates with you and you are drawn to this palette then this is a beautiful book for you. I do agree with Kate, and if like me, you need colour in your life then you will probably take away some pointers and ideas from this book.
Which leads us onto our next book. Known for her dark and moody interiors, Abigail Ahern’s latest book, Everything: A Maximalist Style Guide which has a slightly different take on the subject to me. I would say I’m in the joyful maximalist camp and Abigail is in the moody maximalist camp. Abigail says stick to no more than three colours and with a restricted palette, you can then have a riot of textures and textiles to liven up the space.
She cleverly mixes the old and new, contemporary and vintage with lots of different textures and surfaces and layering them all on top of each other. Because Abigail’s colours are so dark and inky, the texture is vital for that look. As much as I am a flicker and not a reader, not only is this a beautiful book, it also has substance and Abigail shares her brilliant design process and shows you how to achieve her take on maximalism.
We will be back in two weeks talking about sustainability in design and selling houses! Till then, see you in the great indoors!