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Home sweet home? How lockdown changed how we feel about where we live

What do you really think of your humble abode when you’re forced to spend all of your time in it? Raven Smith shares all...

home in a post covid world how lockdown affected our relationship with our spaces by raven smith
PAOLO GALLINA

Like you, I spent months staring at my walls this year. I know all the nooks and crannies and tester splodges of Little Greene like the back of my hand.

Quarantine meant more time at home with my familiar furnishings, but I got to know my living spaces like friends reunited.

It made me more critical, and though there was nothing ostensibly wrong with the design – the feng is very much shuied – I found myself wanting to tweak the fallow fields of the rooms.

'I want my home to be shining, shimmering, splendid, ready for socially undistanced garden parties'

Not a quick spit and polish, but a deeper, more aerobic workout. An aesthetic cardiac defibrillation. In the same way that lockdown has seen me in a tracksuit dreaming of a night on the tiles dressed as Liberace, I now want my home to be shining, shimmering, splendid, ready for socially undistanced garden parties and bonfire nights and Christmases. So, in-between the cheap thrills of Changing Rooms episodes on YouTube, I’ve been assessing rooms for fine-tuning.

OUTSIDE

Like many, I got bone-tired of my walkable location, location, location. The radius from my front door felt limited. I retreated to my garden, which is like a desert oasis riad without any of the water features or plush fabrics. Somehow, we grew a throng of potatoes in a tangled knot of stalks that the cats have commandeered as an outhouse.

As part of my home cleanse, I envisage a Luis Barragán-pink concrete enclosure, private like The Secret Garden, with a secluded pool that magically cleans itself. I’ll be laying in damp swimwear in no time, pecking at squeaky halloumi and a bowl of nuts, reading a beach thriller to help me forget corona.

COLOUR

I still need a great escape from the gallery walls that passively frame my unique collection of Tate posters. The grey I chose pre-Covid abruptly feels like visual elevator music; palatable and insincere.

‘Can I wing floor paint and buy 18 litres off Amazon or should I test the colour first?'

The hallway should be a wedding march, not a humble string quartet at the reception. Reflective mirror gloss would help strike up a tune. And stripes please. In the bedroom. Actually everywhere. Obnoxious, clashing, almost lurid, candy-coloured stripes, like getting sick at the fair. I want a migraine before bed because, why not? I keep asking myself, ‘can I wing floor paint and buy 18 litres off Amazon or should I test the colour first?’ Only time will tell.

KITCHEN

The joy of cooking three meals a day really lost its edge in week nine of lockdown. I became intolerant to mealtimes like coeliacs to gluten, but I still wanted better pots and pans.

Cutlery should feel swiped from a delicately balanced Calder mobile at the MOMA. A casual restaurant vibe is key, one of the Soho ones with no reservation system so you have to queue, but you’re okay about it.

I want the tabletop eclecticism of The Conran Shop but for people to think I picked everything up on my travels over decades. I’m not that into napkins, but I plan to stack them in the cupboards like I’m the Julia Child of Camberwell, ready for an impromptu al fresco soirée.

A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN

In quarantine, I was blessed with my own room at the top of the house. A space to think. A space to heal. A space to muffle my void-scream with a well-placed pillow each time lockdown got too much. It became a panic room, in that I went there to panic, but as house arrest loosens its grip, I’m revising the décor. I’m going full womb with the scheme, so the walls will be bright pink, like when the sun is shining through the top of your ear. I appreciate the cocoon-like parody of my birth mother waiting for me when I need her, as I quietly retreat from the room, sanitise my hands, and venture back outside...

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration August 2020

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