Making a flat a home: how to optimise the diddy space you have for these staying at home days

by Maddie
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Howdy diddly! How’s your weekend going? Any chance you’ve been just chilling at home? Ha, good one – of course I already know you have. Seeing as we’re all spending, frankly, more time at home than we’d like to at the moment, and also because part of this post was a request from a reader (yay someone actually reads this blog lol), I thought it would be nice to do a lil breakdown of some things you can do to optimise the space you do have in your home at the moment to make living and breathing there 24/7 a little more fun and positive.

I’m incredibly grateful at the moment that I have a space to call my own, that I can still afford to pay my rent and that I’m living in a space where I can (apart from paint the walls and hammering hooks into things) utilise it how I like. If you’re living with family or in a student home, hopefully there are things in this post you can do to spice up your own bedroom; if you’ve bought a house, firstly, how did ya manage that one please tell me your ways?!?, and secondly, you should be able to let yourself loose on the elements in this post more than I can! Hopefully in a small way it helps you, whatever your situation. So, I’ve broken down this post by section: some things that I believe have helped me make our wee flat a home and optimise the diddy space we have to feel a greater appreciation for home over this period. Here goes:

Explore your personality with the trinkets ya choose

A reader got in touch recently to request for me to do a post about picking quirky trinkets for your home – so, here goes!

I’m, personally, a massive fan of a quirky interior. I’ve always been a fan, but it was only when I started following the style queen that is Megan Ellaby a good few years back that my interiors-obsessive was well and truly nurtured into the crazy queen she is today. I adore seeing someone’s home infused with their personality, from the colours splashed onto the walls, their chosen art, to their diddy candle holders and trinkets. One day, I will have a music room with vinyls splashed across the walls, a pretentious wall of art and a doggo of my own, but for now I have a cool bookshelf I try and dress up to display our collective personality as a couple, I buy quirky trinkets when I come across them and really love them, and I have my own doggo light who I adore with every fibre of my being. Say hello to Turnip, he’s my very attentive and loyal pug.

Pug light: Driftroom, Bullring, Birmingham – Record player: Crosley – Photo frame: Tiger

And finally, I’d suggest, depending on how you feel, either ordering some adorable polaroids online of some of your best memories to display around your living space to remind you better days will come again, or if it’s too difficult for you to see pics of your loved ones and happy mems at this tough time when you can’t be with them, print out some positive quotes to fuel your positivity. A great app for this is Freeprints (recommended by my sis)!

Thinks she’s a flamenco dancer xoxo

Here are a few of my trinkets and where I purchased them:

Flamingo light: Menkind – Bristol artwork: Sky, Clifton Village – Photo frame: Tiger – Globe: TK Maxx
Plant: TK Maxx – Woven basket: TK Maxx – Cushions: H&M
Banana light: Menkind – Sausage doggo salt & pepper pots: TK Maxx – Candle: gift from loved one
Candle: gift from family – Fairylights: Primark
Hand trinket: Tiger – Shakespeare bust: Royal Shakespeare Company gift shop, Stratford-upon-Avon – Vase: Primark – Cat artwork: Tiger – Photo frame: Primark – Letter board: gift from pals
Photo frame: gift from loved ones – Buddha trinket: from a lil giftshop in Bude, Cornwall – Glass trinket: gift from a pal – Plant: Primark
Bowl: Primark – other trinkets: gifts

Organise your wardrobe for usability and fashhun inspiration

One of the things I most love and also hate in equal measure about our flat is my wardrobe. As may come as no surprise to you, dear reader, I’m a bit of a clothes obsessive. I have many a clothe and it’s kinda hard to fit them all into one small wardrobe. I’ve tried everything to try and make the wardrobe a pleasure to dive into, but until I own a walk-in wardrobe (and I’m doing everything in my power to make that a reality one day lol) I’ll have to deal with my chock-full, annoying wardrobe which makes finding one specific item of clothing in it like running a marathon: aka it’s a wholly unenjoyable experience.

But, taking some time to sort out your wardrobe and make it a slightly more enjoyable space for you to peruse your clothes in not only gives you a perfect lockdown activity to do to while away a couple hours, but it also means you can make your bedroom a nicer place to spend your time. I did a big clear-out a few weeks ago, and donated a bag of clothes to charity, freeing up space in my wardrobe and also allowing me time to colour code my clothing, which now makes it a more visually appealing mess. Thumbs up, all round.

Set a regular cleaning routine – and stick to it (you have no excuse now)

Perhaps you’re a lot more organised than I am, but I personally had no cleaning routine when I was working full-time and didn’t spend my days stranded at home. I did clean, don’t get me wrong – I am hygienic, I promise – and we made sure to do it once a week/once every fortnight, but we didn’t have a routine with it all. Washing got thrown on when we remembered to do it, we were often too tired in the week to hoover so we did it all at the weekend, and everything felt very haphazard. Now you have to spend every waking hour in your home, it’ll make you feel a lot happier in the mind if everything is clean and tidy 24/7.

Dish out jobs to who you live with, take a share of the load each, and ensure everything looks spanking new once a week. For us, cleaning day is usually Friday over this weird period – and now, what doesn’t say FriYAY more than a clean of the toilet? Lol – but trust me, you’ll feel better for it.

DIY yourself new decorations to remind yourself why you fell in love with where you live

Okay, I’m going to tell you now about a website I very much recommend over this weird, crazy period. I’m not one to advocate shopping loads now, I understand its impact on the environment, and usually, I would very much suggest hitting the shops instead of buying online and creating a larger carbon footprint for yourself, but sadly, it is not possible right now. Also, I believe we’ve got to have little things to occupy us and look forward to at the moment, and treating yourself to a little project isn’t going to harm anyone.

Typo is a beautiful shop, one I didn’t encounter until moving to Bristol as we have a store in Cabot Circus, and it is very much like Tiger in that it does cute stationary, is hella affordable and is just pure FUN. On the website right now, there are some amazing DIY crafty kits you can get your hands on for a mere £8 or less, such as DIY pompom garlands and embroidery kits, to make some adorable little trinkets for your home to brighten up your living space. I’m so tempted to invest in the pompom garland kit myself, and I suggest you perhaps think about it too if you’re looking for a fun, crafty, cheap way to brighten up your home.

Separate your working space from your living space

This is hugely important. When I was at University, I couldn’t work at home, because I needed to separate work from relaxation otherwise I would never. Ever. Relax. So I really understand the impact that working from home can have on our wellbeing. I live in a lovely but diddy flat, so my only option currently to work from home is to utilise the dining room table, instead of having a wonderful little study space where I can shut the door at the end of the day on my day’s work.

If you have a study, that is wonderful – and I suggest kitting it out with lovely little trinkets and pics that make you feel positive and motivated. If you don’t, I suggest ensuring you’ve got a space that’s comfortable for you to work (ensure the chair height works with where you’re sat to work, so you’re not hurting your neck) and that you do NOT, whatever you do, work from the sofa or your bed. It’ll confuse your brain, not help you feel like there’s enough of a separation between work and relaxation, and will impair your wellbeing. Going out for your daily walk at the end of the working day is a good idea to separate work from home, because I pop my laptop away after finishing work, head on my walk and then, when I’m back, it’s like work didn’t exist (nearly).

Up the comfort factor from your sofa

We’re all going to be spending a lot more time than usual on our sofas at the moment, so it’s worth paying some attention to them. If you don’t have some already, invest in some quality cushions that are both soft, luxurious and a joy to look at. We went with some mustard yellow ones for ours, for a pop of colour that’s both a joy to lean on and stare at. Finally, grab all the blankets you can for those chill sessions on the sofa. I adore nothing more than wrapping myself in a blanket at the end of an evening, like the true grandmother that I have apparently become.

Decided to have a dance in the pics bc I didn’t know how to pose lol pls 4give

Use the power of tech to make your home fun to be in

My favourite uses of tech in the flat are: my TV, for Netflix and Disney+ (we literally don’t watch terrestrial TV ever); Sam’s handy speaker system he brought with him when we moved in, which lets us play our fave playlists to our heart’s content, very loudly; my record player, which plays the lovely, relaxing, crackly sound of a vinyl whenever I need it. All of these joys make my days brighter, and it’s good to utilise the things you have but maybe didn’t use as much when life was busy. Sam, for example, has dug out his old Gameboy, and he’s having a right old go on that!

My record players are my favourite things lol – Record player: HMV – Green pot: gift from a pal – Bear candle: H&M – Turtle jewellery pot: Tiger

Create the illusion of space between yourself and who you live with, to give yourselves time to be ‘alone’

Sometimes, when I’m working at the dining room table, Sam heads into the bedroom to play guitar. It’s not because I’d kill him if he played it in the living room with me, but it’s because we acknowledge the importance of us both having the illusion, at least, of our own space at this time. We live in a one-bed flat, so we don’t have all that many rooms we can hide from each other in, but we make it work! It then makes the evenings during the week even sweeter when we really spend some quality time together, allowing us to keep to some routine during the week, as we wouldn’t usually see each other during the day due to usually working full-time.

Get creative with your kitchen to spice things up

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reorganising my kitchen cupboards the other day. I even enjoyed reorganising which food goes on which shelf in the fridge. I may be going slightly lockdown crazy (aren’t we all?!) but taking this time to reorganise the kitchen space was a quiet joy. Similarly, I’ve loved having more time to try out new recipes and cook more, now. Spicing it up with new recipes has made me more creative with food and more resourceful, ensuring I don’t waste food and I don’t use too many ingredients. In this time of stockpiling, that is something good – and fun – we all can do.

Leave activities you can do to keep yourself occupied in prominent places, so you’re reminded to try them out

Sam has his guitars displayed in the living room, mine’s in the bedroom, and my vinyl records and books are displayed prominently on the shelving we have in the corridor between the living room and bedroom. This means that every single day I pass them, and if I’m stuck for something to keep myself occupied, I just head straight to the shelves and pick something fun out to do. It also means your shelves look super cute, because I’m a sucker for an aesthetic book cover.

I hope this post helps you find the joy of being at home a little more and encourages you to get creative with your living space now we have the opportunity and the time to do so. I’d love to know what your living spaces look like – please send me a pic over at @maddiemae_xo on Instagram, I’d love to see how you’re making a flat/house a home!

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