SARAH BUITENDACH: The unexpected angst of Covid-19’s home decorating itch
Suddenly, the things we only mildly clocked when tumbling onto the couch after a day at the office — the drawer that sticks, the ugly shower door — are ever present
You’re working in your dining room or home office or bed (hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it) and your eye starts to wander. So does your mind. To a disgruntled and mildly vexing place. “I must get those cracks patched up; how did I ever think those curtains were a good idea; if I win the lottery, the first thing I’ll do is rip out the entire kitchen.”
Covid-19 has introduced many a strange new anxiety into our lives but there is none so slowly permeating, psychologically unnerving and bourgeois as that invoked by our houses.
It’s logical, of course: we’re spending all our time at home, so now our abode must work harder to please us, providing solace, luxury, entertainment, pleasure and even perfection.
Suddenly, the things we only mildly clocked when tumbling onto the couch after a day at the office — the drawer that sticks, the ugly shower door — are ever present. It’s the stuff of anally retentive nightmares and the fantasy of amateur décor enthusiasts and devout DIYers.
This New York Times article nails the essence of this new homegeist. But it also highlights a strange remorse that comes with it.
“With limited restaurant options, even fewer travel options and little reason to spend money on nice clothes for the office, those fortunate enough to have kept their jobs during the pandemic are using their disposable income to upgrade their pandemic headquarters,” it says.
But while people are buying bamboo-linen sheets, big-screen TVs, high-end blenders and new furniture, many feel guilty doing so at a time when so many others are unemployed. Shouldn’t they rather be giving money to charity, or decluttering their lives, they angst.
Asia Wong, a social worker, tells The New York Times we shouldn’t self-flagellate too excessively about these domestic desires. “‘Think of this as an amplified nesting response,” she says. “Yes, we’re looking for ways to make home feel more entertaining and vibrant. But we’re also looking for ways to feel safer and more cosy.”
So, if you can move past atonement and get onto abode improvements, what should you be thinking about, aside from your friend’s infinity pool and new Lacanche stove?
Forbes says that in the US, house design has already changed because of Covid.
Stateside, home design now prioritises hygiene, the outdoors (think trampolines and veggie gardens) and multipurpose spaces. It makes sense, and would surely translate to SA shores too.
Covid-19, says Forbes, has “introduced new decorative style trends — people are opting for calm colours to create a tranquil space at home”.
If that’s your bag, style-wise, might I suggest you tune into Netflix’s new series Dream Home Makeover.
It’s not a terribly complicated plot: perfectly blonde influencer and interior designer Shea McGee and her husband, Syd, decorate houses across the US, along with their 90-strong staff.
Viewers are loving the Utah-based couple for their sophisticated mass appeal. Sure, McGee clearly doesn’t know there are colours beyond grey, white and beige, and has never seen a scatter cushion she doesn’t love, but if you’re into nesting, it’s worth a watch.
And if not, well, then you’ll still be amazed by the size of some US houses and the money (or debt) which a pocket of its citizens have, virus or no virus.
This is a roundup of the best Covid-19 news from the web, brought to you in today’s FM lockdown newsletter.
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