We’ve all been stuck at home in various places for weeks over the past 22 months – and counting – of this pandemic. For a while last summer we thought we could put it behind us. But the fast-spreading Omicron variant, hot on the heels of the Delta Wave, has sent many humans back inside.
The latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say you may need to quarantine or isolate at home for five days if you meet the various criteria listed for exposure to the coronavirus, or if you be tested positive for it. Of course, if you’re feeling nauseous and anxious, by all means stay in bed and watch the Beatles documentary from under the covers while (hopefully) sipping on homemade chicken soup. But if you have mild symptoms, are asymptomatic, or are awaiting a negative test result, why not use your five days in home jail to get your home in order?
Whether you’re waiting for quarantine or stuck indoors because of a snowstorm, here are five home projects that could help you come out of a miserable time with some positive improvements. At least they distract you from consuming all those leftover Christmas cookies and candies.
Revitalize the finish on a worn wooden table
Marian Parsons, who runs the Miss Mustard Seed blog from her home in Rochester, Minnesota, has been buying and selling antiques for years. A simple refresh of a coffee table or bedside table that has become dull over time could breathe new life into the wood finish, she says. Parsons likes to use hemp oil — and not the health food variety, but processed food-grade oil made for use on furniture, like Real Milk Paint’s Hemp Oil ($13.99 for 8 ounces, Amazon). “You wipe it off on wood that’s looking a little tired or fuzzy, and it gives it new life,” says Parsons. “It evens out the hue and brings back that shine and shine that’s so beautiful about wood.” If your furniture also needs a little cleaning, she recommends using a mixture of 3 parts hemp oil and 1 part distilled white vinegar. “Wipe it off with a cloth. Apply it to your hands like lotion,” says Parsons, whose book Feels Like Home was published last year. “This is great for pieces that need a little cleaning and moisture and shine.”
Reimagine a bookshelf
Something as simple as rearranging an overflowing shelf can make a room look neater and more stylish. Silver Spring, MD interior designer and architect Charles Almonte suggests taking an hour to examine a shelf filled with books you’ve already read. Take it all off, wipe the surface and decide which tomes to part with. Serious bibliophiles may find this a challenge, but try to think of it as a way to make room for new acquisitions. Set aside a bag of books to donate, and maybe make a plan to start a small free library in your neighborhood. “Now that you’ve cleared out the books, there might still be room for personal touches,” says Almonte. Dig up something you bought on a trip and proudly display it. It will bring back good memories every time you walk past it.
Take inventory of your leaves
Julie Blanner, a lifestyle blogger in St. Louis, says linen closets are often cluttered with so many different bed and bath items that it’s difficult to find what you need. The key to a functional and beautiful linen closet, she says, is getting rid of excess sheets, pillowcases, and towels to streamline storage. “There’s nothing worse than having to open leaves to see how big they are,” says Blanner. Her simple solution: reduce to just two sheets per bed, then sort by size and label the shelves. “You only need two sentences to screw in and out. Everything else is exaggerated,” says Blanner. You’ll find that you probably have mismatched sheets and extra pillowcases that you no longer need. Blanner suggests donating unwanted bedding and towels to local animal shelters where “they can provide extra warmth and comfort for the animals,” she says.
Get organized for an everyday task
Pick a project where small changes make a difference, says Pamela Meluskey, co-founder and primary organizer at Settled, a professional organizing firm in New York. For example, consider all the items you use in your workouts. If they were all in front of you and not put in one basket, wouldn’t it inspire you to use them more often? Most of us don’t have the luxury of dedicating a dedicated room to fitness, so find a wall in a basement or other room to set up a station for your gear. Meluskey likes the versatility of the Gladiator slat wall ($59.99 for a two-pack, garageappeal.com). “It holds a yoga mat, your resistance bands, weights, jump ropes — everything you need,” she says. “Just put a mat in front of it”, done. She also recommends creating an organized station for your pet supplies. Keep leashes, sweaters, booties, and your reflective vest neatly in the back of a closet door with Container Store’s Elfa Mesh Over-the-Door Rack ($139.99, containerstore.com). Or get a small rolling cart, like Ikea’s Raskog ($39.99, ikea.com) to lock up items.
Build a terrarium
Consider adding more plants to your home, says Almonte, whose own pandemic activity has been crocheting. “Back in Manila, where I’m from, there’s a gardening trend right now,” he says. “Because we’re a tropical country, isolated peoples have started growing more plants, especially on porches and porches.” If you can’t do it outdoors, create a terrarium instead. “It’s like building an entire garden on a very, very small scale,” he says, “like creating a miniature world.” Almonte says ferns, moss, or succulents are good choices for terrariums. Glass containers like mason jars and goldfish bowls make great holders, or look for interesting vessels at thrift stores. Visit Terrain (shopterrain.com) for accessories, kits, or a fully designed terrarium, and watch a beginner’s YouTube video such as: B. “A Beginners Guide To Making A Terrarium” by Worcester Terrariens. “Caring for a living being is very Zen right now,” says Almonte.