COVID-19 has changed the way Australians live, work and play, and the effects are set to stick with us for years to come.
According to ING’s Future Focus: Homeownership report, a quarter of Australians now see their home as a “complete lifestyle hub”, where they can exercise, dine in, socialise, work, learn and play.
To reflect this shift, interiors expert Jen Bishop has revealed six ways Australians can create a “home hub” to improve how we work, entertain and exercise – without breaking the bank.
Here are her top tips:
While it’s hard to create more space in a finite area, Ms Bishop said you can make better use of what you’ve got.
“Try and get out of the mindset that you need separate rooms for your different activities and think multipurpose,” she offered.
She gave the example of custom cabinetry, furniture and storage being able to make a “huge difference” in smaller homes – and enables owners “to make the absolute best of every inch”.
Fast internet is crucial for work, socialising and streaming entertainment at home.
Ms Bishop recommends keeping WI-FI stations in a central location for better connectivity around the house.
And if you don’t want them in plain sight, they are easily tucked away on shelves using books, photos and indoor plants.
Outdoor lighting and a patio heater are great ways to turn a balcony or backyard into year-round entertaining areas, according to the interiors expert.
It also may be worth investing in a bar cart – as well as making a decorative statement, they can be popular with guests when the weekend rolls around.
Not only are they on trend, house plans make great décor.
Ms Bishop has flagged that for beginners especially, “you can’t go wrong with the hard-to-kill devil’s ivy (pothos)”.
“And if you really want to look like you know what’s in, then go for a Monstera – the ‘it’ plant of the season,” she exclaimed.
Herb gardens in the kitchen and plants in the bathroom are also easy ways to dress up any space.
Many people have avoided going back to the gym as restrictions have eased, opting instead to continue their home habits.
“Avoid your living room looking like a gym by having [a] good-looking storage zone for your rolled-up exercise mat, dumbbells and resistance bands,” Ms Bishop has advised.
It doesn’t have to be over-the-top – an ottoman with a lid or a big basket will do.
“If your gear is where you can see it but doesn’t look messy, you’ll be more likely to stick with it!”
Not everyone has the luxury of converting their spare bedroom into an office, “so it’s important to think outside the box here”, Ms Bishop has conceded.
“Do you have unused space in a hallway, on a landing or somewhere in your open plan kitchen/dining area that could accommodate a desk and storage?” she queried.
If this is the case, “investing in built-in cabinetry and a desk nook that you can quite literally shut the door on at the end of the day is a great way to make use of previously dead space.”
All in all, renovations can be expensive – especially in the midst of a downturn.
This is why “it’s a great time to embrace the cosmetic makeover”, according to the interiors expert, who said you should “never underestimate the power of paint in general – whether it’s chalk paint to upcycle a piece of furniture, giving a room a fresh white look or even spray-painting your fence”.