Despite the confinement many of us are experiencing, there is an unexpected sense of comfort I find in knowing that I’m writing from my home, and connecting with you in yours. Today’s post is about expanding vital space in our homes and our hearts. My main role in the tile business for over two decades has been to help clients design meaningful spaces in their homes. Yet, never before have the spaces in our homes had to serve so many different facets of our lives. The COVID-19 outbreak, and the crucial need to stay at home, has almost instantly turned homes, from places of respite, into virtual towns comprised of makeshift classrooms, remote conference rooms, gyms, and even video recording studios.

The good news is that to expand the space in your home and your heart, you don’t need a renovation or addition, you just need to redefine how you perceive your space. Finding an artful way of designating and sharing the spaces in our homes is essential if we want to thrive, and not just survive this time at home. Here’s some insight from both design and mindfulness concepts to help create meaningful spaces within your existing home that can optimize each part of your day.

Below are some basic steps to expand your home and heart space:

  • Set an intention for each space in your home
  • Create rituals throughout the day that define each room or space
  • Communicate when and how spaces will be shared with others in your home
  • Try doing old tasks in new spaces
  • Make self-care a daily ritual
  • Utilize each space in your home regularly
  • Make space in your heart for gratitude and compassion

Several years ago, when mindfulness began to play a greater role in my own life, I incorporated intention-setting as the first step in helping clients design spaces. For those who consider mindfulness a woowoo word, allow me to quickly demystify it for you.  Mindfulness simply means being aware or present in the moment, with compassion and without judgement. In the home design context, just consider mindfulness a way of finding greater perspective. After all, our perspective is our reality. When I work with clients to design their homes, we focus on seeing spaces in perspective, not just as rooms in a house, but as sources of different moods and emotions.

As a standard practice, I have clients set an intention or purpose for each room or space, and then tie the intention to a feeling they want that space to convey. For example, the kitchen for one client may be intended for connection and joy. For another person, the kitchen may be a place for unbridled creativity. I once had a client whose most sacred space was her laundry room. For her, it was a space of introspection and solace. I’ve found that intention-setting makes selecting finishes, colors, and layouts much easier for clients. It can also help us find a little extra space in this moment of temporary confinement. When a definitive tone is set for a space, it can serve as a reference point for everything that goes into that space.

Having a set intention is incredibly powerful in helping people make decisions. When my clients are torn between two or three different tiles for a bathroom, they can refer back to the intention they’d set for that space, and choose which selection would best express that intention. The intention becomes their compass. For example, when a client declares that the master bath is intended to be a restorative space, that immediately helps rule out loud or disruptive items that aren’t aligned with being restorative. Intentional spaces are well defined spaces. By setting an intention for each existing room, corner, or niche in your home, you can designate spaces that can truly influence your mood and mindset. You can create limitless intentions, which allow for limitless ways to use your space.

Intention-setting allows us to optimize and truly enjoy the existing spaces in our homes. Spaces we may be taking for granted. As we find ourselves temporarily home-bound, amidst an unprecedented moment of uneasiness, we can focus on creating diverse, intentional, and inviting spaces to make ourselves more comfortable. I realize that being home all day means we don’t have the luxury of our former daily routines. Routines are essential for providing a sense of order. In fact, the loss of routine may be an even bigger factor than the confinement to our homes. I understand we cannot geographically move ourselves throughout the moments of our day right now.  We cannot move from home, to school, to work, to the gym, to a restaurant, and back home. Home, right now, is our everything and our only thing. Our full geographic range is from one end of our home to another. Ironically, avoiding Coronavirus, may increase our risk of getting Cabin Fever. There’s no cure yet for the former, but there are remedies for the latter. Let’s get crafty!  We don’t need any extra space in our homes. We just need a simple intention aligned with a ritual, and we can define brand new spaces.

Many spaces are used for multiple tasks. A great example of a multi-use space is the kitchen table. Especially right now. It may start as the breakfast area, then the kids’ classroom, the laundry folding area, the place where you argue with your spouse, and the spot where you keep the ever depressing pile of newspapers. Fortunately, we can create a ritual to define the changing intentions of that faithful kitchen table. For instance, at breakfast time, we can create a simple ritual such as setting the table to define the space. Rest assured, I’m not asking you to do any extra chores here. In my house, setting the table for breakfast means putting the roll of paper towels on our kitchen island. Done! I’ve now designated this the family breakfast space with the intention of nourishing my kids. Ritual performed, intention set, and we are now moving through our day. This same space will serve a different intention as I connect a new ritual to that intention. Paper towel roll is moved to back counter, and laptops and chargers are placed on kitchen island.  I’ve now set the intention for classroom learning space for two of my kids, tied to the simple ritual of moving some objects around.

Now, onto the next ritual-driven intention. I grab my yoga mat, roll it out on my bedroom floor, turn on my ’80’s Spotify mix, and shut the door.  Shutting that door was the final step of my ritual to set the intention for my bedroom area to become my safe space. I may even do a meditation before I start my Zoom session with my yoga class. I’m now well into my morning and I’ve designated this area, for now, as my private safe space. Creating a sequence of a few daily rituals is imperative in creating some form of new daily routine, and in setting intentional spaces throughout your home. Be open to changing or creating new rituals when needed, or when it gets too cramped for comfort. Many of us are sharing spaces with room mates and loved ones. Openly defining spaces and communicating time frames of rituals may help avoid domestic disputes. Make sure your fellow inhabitants, or cranky family members, know which spaces you plan to use and when. Be generous with your space. If you have to share it, so does someone else. Find a space where you can have some time for self-care every day, without exception. Whether that’s a time to exercise, meditate, cry under the covers, or all of the above.  Honor yourself. You’re worthy of down time.

In creating rituals, we create routines. Try to hold onto those that work for you and maintain a sense of order. Keep your sleep cycle as regular as possible, even if you don’t have to drop kids off or report to the office early right now. Choose your spaces wisely. If a task and a space aren’t resonating with you, try doing daily tasks in different rooms just to change things up for the time being. Room designations can always change as needed. Given the state of my graying roots, this weekend my bathroom will temporarily become my home hair color salon which will hold the intention of youthfulness and restoration. Hopefully it will still be designated as a bathroom, assuming we have access to toilet paper.

By now, you hopefully get the idea. Define your space, set an intention for it, and create a ritual as you move through the day and through your home. If you’re fortunate enough to have a yard, enjoy it! Celebrate outdoor space, and every space! In fact, make a point of moving through every space in your home each day.  Even if you live in a studio apartment or rent a room within a home, walk corner to corner. No matter how big or small home is for you, enjoy it. Find gratitude for it. There are so many people out there who don’t have the luxury of a home. Please remember that!

In closing, I’d like to acknowledge a space that is more important than anything in one’s home.  The space in our hearts. That is a space of pure abundance. We can always find more space there. I designate a little pocket in my heart for gratitude each and every day. In times of fear and uncertainty, even depression and loneliness, there is nothing that can soothe us more than finding gratitude. It’s a tool that is always accessible. Find gratitude for the unseen and unsung heroes who are getting us through this moment. For those stocking the shelves in supermarkets or working the cash registers. For courageous healthcare workers, for delivery drivers, for mail sorters and carriers, for restaurant workers. Find compassion for the elderly generation at higher risk, for the homeless, for those fighting Coronavirus and other ailments. Gratitude and compassion are essentials in getting through crisis. We may be fearful of losing jobs or employees. Our livelihoods may feel incredibly vulnerable, but we are not alone. We are truly all in this together. Stay kind, and thoughtful, and generous. Above all, stay home.  Home is where your heart is. Focus on that space