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How to Refresh Your Home in 8 Simple Steps While Social Distancing — Practical Tips From a Guru

Texas Interior Designer Marie Flanigan on Shaking Up Your Space

BY // 03.30.20

Home is where the heart is — and where the majority of us currently spend most of our time as we attempt to flatten the curve and socially distance to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Spending so much time at home is a blessing, to be sure, especially when so many are in hospitals, either sick or on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus.

But, we as a society aren’t used to spending this much time in our homes, and for many, it can be a little stifling.

We enlisted Houston interior designer Marie Flanigan, whose first book, The Beauty of Home: Redefining Traditional Interiors (Gibbs Smith), debuts in the fall, for her top tips for refreshing the home — without a disruptive renovation — while social distancing.

“Change can be good for the soul and oftentimes lends a fresh perspective that allows you to appreciate the things you already have,” Flanigan tells PaperCity. “As we suddenly find ourselves spending an extended amount of time at home, this is the perfect opportunity to refresh one or all of your living spaces by moving and mixing pieces you already own.”

Herewith, eight ways to make your home feel new again without spending any money, in Flanigan’s own words:

1). Rethinking the layout of a space can make a dramatic difference in how it functions and feels. At a time when exposure to the outdoors is limited, consider reorienting the layout of a room’s furnishings to allow ample enjoyment of any natural light. After all, Vitamin D is good for immunity.


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2). Is there a piece of art that brings you joy? Rehang it in the room where you’re spending the majority of your time, or consider layering it on a console table or bookshelf with another piece of varying size.

3). Lamps are easily moved around your home, and switching up your lighting changes the energy in any space. If you have a metallic or natural earth-tone lamp, it will act as a neutral and coordinate with any color story.

4). Rugs are a room’s foundation and changing them out can have a major impact! Shop around your house and see if you already own a rug that could easily rotate to another room. If you have a beautiful rug that’s too small for the desired space, consider layering it with another of a different fiber for a textural look.

Marie Flanigan office (Photo by Julie Soefer)
The same home office, with the furniture rearranged and a different rug and chairs. (Photo by Julie Soefer)

5). Looking for a quiet place to retreat at the end of the day? Move a comfortable chair or small sofa into your bedroom. Bonus points if it sits underneath a window.

6). Take some time to zhoosh! Rearrange your bookshelves, move a beautiful tray onto your coffee table, or hang your most luxurious hand towel in your bathroom. Sprinkling moments of pure beauty throughout your home can increase the satisfaction you feel when interacting with it.

7). Few things can breathe new life into your home faster than fresh greenery and flowers. But in the age of social distancing, no need to go to the store. While you’re on your daily walk, take along some scissors and seek out branches to place in a vase. My personal favorites are magnolia stems.

8). Above all else, this is a time to focus on what you really love in your home. Take the Marie Kondo approach: If it doesn’t bring you joy, place it in a pile to donate or gift to someone else once the pandemic passes.

Happy refreshing.

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