How to make your living space habitable

Indoor plants are known to boost mood, improve productivity and relieve stress. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • There are numerous ways to go about an art project. You could make an epidemic-themed masterpiece that tells the current historical narrative visually.
  • You now have all the time in the world and you’re going nowhere. How about you restore your home’s face value by doing some fixing?

As the number of Covid-19 cases in Kenya rise gradually, more Kenyans are joining the stay-at-home bandwagon.

We all want to stay safe, but if we are to be honest, staying at home yet not knowing when our lives will return to normality can lead to depression.

Couple that with financial constraints resulting from stalled businesses or job loss and you are staring at depression and other mental health issues.

Experts across the world are warning that isolation during this period can escalate cases of mental health disorders.

Whether you have an existing mental health issue or not, you need to acknowledge that you are in a stressful situation and look for ways to ease the situation.

One of these ways includes making your living space habitable and relaxing; after all, you will be spending a lot of time here, indefinitely.

The last thing you want is to feel trapped in your own home, and worse, a home that is not comfortable or inviting to the eye.

These simple steps and cheap additions will make your life not only bearable, but a joy as well.

Start a vegetable garden

If you have a compound, you do not need to restrict yourself to a single indoor plant. You could start a small vegetable garden.

Such a garden will keep you busy and occupied at a time when the day seems longer than usual.

A vegetable garden will also help you save money in the long run since you will not have to buy vegetables such as sukuma wiki and spinach, or even onions.

If your compound lacks bare land or exposed soil, consider using a sack to plant your vegetables, though you will need to get a good amount of soil to do this.

Search online how to go about this. Note that some vegetables only survive in certain soils, and therefore, research on the type of soil you have at your disposal and the kind of vegetables that will survive in it.

In addition, go for low-maintenance veggies that take a short time to bloom. Spinach and kale are some of the most popular veggies and are easily available.

You may also plant green onion stalk, which supplements onion bulbs very well and takes around four weeks to be ready.

Coriander or dhania is also easy to plant and takes just a couple of weeks to flourish if watered well.

Once you decide which veggies to plant, visit your nearest agrovet and ask for the seedlings.

You could also look for a farmer near you and get baby vegetables. These will save you time and you are likely to get insightful tips from the farmer.

The long rains should be pouring down soon, so take advantage of them and get to work now.

Start a wall art project

Are you a talented artist trapped in the corporate world? You have probably been forced to push your drawing, painting or sculpting to the corner as you try to make a living through a profession you don’t enjoy.

Now that you have time to kill, why not explore your talent. You could start an art project that will add some excitement to your walls.

An art project does not have to cost an arm and a leg. Depending on your area of expertise, you can use materials around your home or invest in cheap ones to make a memorable piece.

It will be a valuable statement with a deep story that you will pass on to generations to come – imagine telling your grandchildren a story that begins, “I painted this 20 years ago when the world grappled with a virus called…”

There are numerous ways to go about an art project. You could make an epidemic-themed masterpiece that tells the current historical narrative visually.

You could also capture your everyday emotions and thoughts through simple art pieces.

If yours is a family of equally gifted people, you could engage them in your project; it is all about making memories and passing time in an exciting way.

Get an indoor plant

You would be surprised by the healing power of nature. Indoor plants are known to boost mood, improve productivity and relieve stress.

They also light up dull rooms with their bold greenness. Besides, they generate oxygen during the day.

If you are living in a rented house, consider planting an indoor plant in a bucket for these benefits.

Such a plant is also like an immobile pet since you will need to water it every day. It can also be a symbolic element in your house that helps you rediscover your resilience.

As the plant grows, so does your strength and ability to withstand the tough times. There are various varieties of indoor plants to choose from.

The most common include the golden pothos that has heart-shaped leaves, often patterned with yellow or golden patches.

The golden pothos are preferred for their climbing abilities and fast growth rate. The peace lily is also quite common, due to its ability to survive in low-light areas.

Cactus, snake plant and small palm trees are also easily available. You just need to establish the conditions in your house, available space and the kind of mood you want to set.

The cactus plant, for instance, symbolises resilience while indoor palm trees have a tropical feel and a majestic presence.

Fortunately, flowers and trees cost very little in Kenya. You can spend as little as Sh30 for common plants, or you could go ask your neighbour to give you a sucker. An old bucket lying around the house will suffice as a flower pot.

Fix the broken fixtures

Remember that switch that has been hanging loose for the past five months, or the door handle that is about to fall?

You’ve been planning to fix things around the house for a long but you haven’t had the time, or so you say. No more excuses.

You now have all the time in the world and you’re going nowhere. How about you restore your home’s face value by doing some fixing?

This may not yield as much excitement as the art project, but the process will keep you occupied.

Take a room-by-room approach and write down a list of everything that needs fixing.

The most common repairs you can handle by yourself include door handles, kitchen taps, door hinges, unstable furniture, cabinet doors and a clogged drainage. Often, you will only need to tighten screws here and there.

To be on the safe side, search online tutorials that will teach you how to fix appliances without further damaging them.

Be careful to steer clear of fixtures attached to the home’s electrical wiring, such as sockets and instant showers. Leave that to the experts.

Repurpose old accessories

Every home has plenty of old stuff that were fashionable once upon a time but now lie forgotten somewhere as new ones take over.

They could be decorative pieces, storage units or furniture pieces. Often, when we buy new accessories, we put the old ones somewhere in the balcony, under the bed or garage.

With so much time to kill, you can remind yourself of the good old days by repurposing these old accessories.

For instance, old ceramic sugar dishes make excellent candle holders while rattan baskets can hold your toilet paper.

It’s all about getting creative and thinking outside the box without spending a penny.

Go through everything you’ve stored away and think of a way to reuse it. You could search online for ideas and inspiration if you feel stuck.

You’d be surprised by the innovative ways people reuse basic accessories, for instance, shoes turned into flower pots for plants with shallow roots, or old coffee mugs used as pen holders for your homework station.

Repurposing old items will introduce a familiar novelty to your home. It will also give you the thrill of owning a new accessory without having to spend anything.

Reorganise your furniture

When you’re involuntarily indoors, the longing to be in a different space, even for a second, can be overwhelming.

You probably miss your favourite restaurant and other hang-out joints, but since you can’t have that now, why not focus on giving your home an uplift?

There are infinite ways of arranging and rearranging a room and there is always room for improvement.

Remember, novelty sparks excitement, and reorganising your furniture can make you feel as if you moved to a new house.

Move the smaller pieces around to create a different look. The wall art and decorative pieces too count.

Consider moving accessories from one room to another. For instance, if you’re spending more time in the bedroom, you may want to borrow wall art from the living room to avoid staring at blank walls all day while working.

While at it, look for inspiration from sources such as Pinterest to see how other people with furniture like yours have arranged their homes.

In a nutshell, you don’t have to sit in the house all day staring at the clock, wondering when the scientists will find a cure for Covid-19.

Take advantage of the time you have and find new ways to enjoy your stay at home.

Consider getting a pet
If you’re living alone, you are likely to feel lonely, especially if you enjoy being around people.

Spending every moment alone can be stressful because it deprives you of an opportunity to share your fears, make valuable memories or seek inspiration.

According to experts, you are more likely to sink into depression than someone who is in a similar situation but living with other people.

Why not consider getting a pet? According to the US National Institutes of Health, bonding with animals reduces cortisol, a stress-related hormone, while boosting feelings of social support.

Pets also provide interesting opportunities for socialisation. They bond well with human beings and will give you a reason to wake up every morning since you have to take care of them.

You could start by getting a cat, which does not need lots of space to thrive.

On where to find one, most cat owners give away young ones - ask your friends or relatives whether they have a kitten they could gift you.

Before you adopt one, however, be guided by your budget because these are lean times we are living in, so you need to be prudent with your money.

If you cannot afford to feed and care for one, then don’t get one.