Does Your Home Make You Happy?


7 easy tips for giving your space a morale makeover.

With the majority of Americans following stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of coronavirus, our homes are now working overtime to fulfill the roles of offices, classrooms, gyms and community centers — and it’s easy to feel dispirited after occupying the same space day in, day out. But all hope is not lost: There are simple and inexpensive ways to transform your home into a fresh and inspiring environment. 

Give your home some TLC with these seven tips from interior decorators, feng shui experts and design enthusiasts. 

Break it up

If you’re working at home, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by conflicting responsibilities. To help stay on track, designate different areas for specific activities. “It’s important to ‘compartmentalize’ your living space,” says Harry Heissmann, an interior designer based in Brooklyn, NY. Now working remotely from his apartment with his partner and their pup, Heissmann has assigned specific areas for fitness, work and leisure: “We dug out a yoga mat from under the bed and dedicated an area to working out. The desk in the living room was cleaned and organized and serves as a ‘command station’ for going online and making phone calls. The bedroom doubles as another workspace and is perfect for napping or watching movies in bed.” If you live in a studio, you can simulate separate “rooms” by splitting up the space with curtains, bookshelves or other furniture. 

Experiment with color

Painting the walls is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to immediately invigorate any home. For a classic look that will hold up against almost any decor, opt for cool neutrals; if you prefer something more dramatic, consider adding a pop of color to a feature wall. Reiko Gomez, a feng shui expert and interior designer in the Hamptons, NY, recommends greens and blues: “They are most associated with health, calm and well being.” If you’re not ready to commit to paint, Gomez suggests using accessories like throw pillows, an area rug, curtains or artwork to bring color into your space. 

Streamline and declutter

With millions of us now living and working alongside family members, significant others and roommates, our homes may suddenly seem more cramped than ever before. According to Gomez, there’s no better way to create spatial harmony than decluttering: “It works a powerful magic in that it gets your entire space up to speed with you.” She recommends starting small with a contained space like a bathroom, which “will give you a quick feeling of accomplishment and encourage you to do the next space.” The benefits of a tidy space extend beyond aesthetics — research has found that clearing clutter can lower stress levels

Do a digital detox

The digital detox movement is not new, but it’s worth revisiting in this climate of constant COVID-19 news and social media chatter. Though it’s important to stay informed about the health crisis, it’s easy to slip from a healthy level of engagement to compulsive checking. To reduce screen dependence, set up manageable boundaries based on time or place. For example, designate dinnertime as phone-free, or remove mobile tech devices from your bedroom for a daily reset.  

Invigorate with scents

Scent is a powerful vehicle for uplifting your mood. According to Mindy Yang, the owner of Perfumarie, a fragrance lab in SoHo, NY, “Every room should have a different scent track to score your moment.” Yang uses woody scents like cedar, palo santo, oud, copal and frankincense to feel grounded; rosemary for invigoration; and incense to focus and meditate. There are many ways to suffuse a room with scent — candles, oil diffusers, air mists and fresh flowers, to name a few. For a more subtle effect, crack open a window to balance out your chosen fragrance with fresh air. 

Greenify and purify

While you’re staying put, there’s no better time to bring the outside world in. Summer Rayne Oakes, host of Plant One On Me, says, “If there’s one thing that makes a space feel livable, it’s some elements of green.” Not only do plants bring light and color, they also add oxygen to your home — something that many of us could use more of as we hunker down indoors. Consider the level of care you want to give: “Some folks may find something less fussy to be easier to deal with, whereas others may want a more ‘high-maintenance’ plant that requires attention every day.” Whichever plant you choose, she says that the ritual of maintaining it can be deeply healing. To find a plant shop near you that’s delivering during coronavirus closures, you can visit Oakes’s database, Plant One Forward

Lighten up

Natural light is the top office perk, according to a study of workplace benefits published in the Harvard Business Review. If your home is now your office, you have more control than ever over the light conditions of your workday. To maximize your exposure to natural light, position your desk near a window and keep drapes and shades open during the daytime. If you don’t have much natural light coming in, Heissmann recommends affixing aluminum mini-blinds to your windows: “You can direct or cut out light (and inquisitive neighbors across the street) as needed, and when the sun hits them just right, you can use them to throw light into the room without getting blinded.” He also recommends adding reflective surfaces — like a mirror, lacquered table, or chrome lamp — to enhance the light in dark rooms.



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5 Tips for Moving During COVID-19


By taking extra safety precautions and minimizing social contact, you can still move safely.

Amid travel bans, widespread stay-at-home orders and social-distancing mandates, millions of Americans are learning to adapt to the changes brought about by COVID-19. Countless events have been rescheduled or cancelled, but for a few people — including those who already made plans to move this spring — staying put is simply not an option. 

If you are about to move, you can still pull it off with a little extra planning and a few precautionary steps.

Here are some tips for making your move as safe, seamless and stress-free as possible. 

DIY if possible

Even though most states have designated moving services as “essential” and therefore still able to operate, many smaller companies have reduced hours or have paused business altogether. If you can, try to manage the move on your own.

If you need help, do your homework on the companies operating in your area. Call to ask about sanitation procedures, whether the movers have necessary supplies (like masks, gloves and booties), and confirm there is a reasonable cancellation policy in the event that you need to change your plans.  

Minimize contact

If you’re working with a moving company, ask for a virtual quote and see if the company offers fully contactless service. 

Forgo handshakes, for obvious reasons. A smile and a generous tip (sent through Venmo, PayPal or another contactless digital platform) are a welcome substitute. 

Take extra sanitary precautions

  • Wear masks, gloves and booties. If you’re hiring a moving company, they’ll likely bring similar supplies for their workers, but consider having additional hygiene products available.
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, paying particular attention to door knobs and handles.
  • Place soap and paper towels next to sinks and hand sanitizer by doors.
  • Buy new boxes: The coronavirus has been found to live on cardboard for up to 24 hours, so this might not be the time to pick up used moving supplies from stores that are recycling them. You can also use boxes that you already have in your home. 

Be transparent and flexible

In advance of your move, reach out to your neighbors — especially if you live in an apartment building — and share the date and time you plan to move. This gives everyone in your direct vicinity an opportunity to avoid unnecessary contact and let you know if your timing is a problem.

If you or any family members are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, postpone your moving plans. Though rescheduling is a pain, the health and safety of your community comes first. 

Help those in need and lighten your load

Even in the best of circumstances, nearly 40 million Americans are unable to afford groceries. As COVID-19 forces school closures, soup kitchen shutdowns and a surge of layoffs, the need for anti-hunger provisions is greater than ever. Donate your shelf-stable items to a local food bank or to Move for Hunger, a national organization that works with professional moving companies and their customers to feed those in need.

Moving is hard work no matter what, and it’s especially challenging right now. But by taking extra precautions, you can — and will — get past this hurdle.  

Additional resources:

See below for a roundup of popular moving companies that are continuing service during coronavirus. The list is not exhaustive or provided as a recommendation of their services, and we encourage you to check the company websites for up-to-date information. 



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