Kings of Chelsea

Decoration and Renovation during lockdown, more important than just a lick of paint

Following on from our previous Blog Post about “Working from Home” in Lockdown, we thought it might be relevant to create a mirror piece concerning home improvements during these strange times.

In the UK during the first lockdown, perhaps the initial reaction was confusion and a lack of knowledge or understanding about what this situation really meant. Being “confined” was not a situation that many people were used to, and the lack of independent choice in regards to staying in or going out was a very new one. As time progressed, there did appear to be a resignation that this was certainly going to be the status quo for a while, and might also not be the only time this happened.

For many people, the home environment (and let’s face it, this is solely about “home” as hotels and resorts and indeed other people’s homes were out of bounds) became of vital importance. Whether the concern was the spare room as office or fixing the kitchen appliances that had been broken for months, renovation and decoration suddenly took on a new and urgent relevance. If the home is regarded as a window into people’s personality or psychology (as is often the case) this was an extraordinary opportunity to stare into a nation’s soul and psyche. While all around was (and still is) chaotic and unpredictable, order and structure can be brought into life by creating an environment that is controllable and calm. “An Englishman’s home is his castle” was never truer than between March and July of 2020. 

Mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind is in a healthy body – has also been proven to be true in regards to our physical environment. Time and again, a chaotic, busy, “maximalist” interior has been indicated to be generally unhelpful in maintaining concentration, reducing stress and supporting efficiency. This is not to say that a perfect existence is guaranteed by a zen or minimalist approach, but the connections between environmental order and mental clarity are many. Personality and character feed into this equation (certainly many people would abhor the minimalist existence) but at a subconscious level, there exist many benefits to creating a clean and tidy home.

For several months it seemed everyone you spoke to had been “tidying the shed” or “painting the hallway” or “having a clear-out”. At first sight, this could be because there was little else to do, but at a fundamental human level this is the projection of negating outside influence by creating our own control narrative. As an added bonus, it usually also means getting things done that had been put off for months, and sometimes even years! On a personal level I decorated my son’s bedroom and created an office in the attic – both useful and also strangely satisfying, as decorating and renovating often is. 

There’s no right or wrong in terms of home improvements during a major global pandemic but there is certainly a positive towards better mental health to be gained from focused efforts and constructive use of “spare” time. Small, cheap fixes like changing darker rooms to lighter ones simply through a change of paint colour, or throwing away broken items that could not be salvaged, chip away at the base level of the feeling of being “unsettled” that so many people have felt recently. Boosts to self-confidence and worth by completing projects without the help of tradespeople or designers can also be a great aid to remaining positive in difficult times. Who doesn’t feel a small buzz of pleasure when a parcel of something for the home arrives – maybe even more so during lockdown?

It has been very hard to take many positives from this year, and though it would be wrong to be flippant about the impact this situation has had on countless people, I am sure that for many, their connection to their home and the security, safety and comfort within it has been a major lifeline.