January is usually a time for looking forward and making new resolutions, often with the aim of improving our health and fitness or achieving personal goals.
However, as we step into 2021, the world is far from normal and we face another indefinite period of limiting Covid-19 restrictions. Unfortunately, the pressures these restrictions put us under can lead to anxiety, stress and depression. In fact, twice as many adults in Britain reported symptoms of depression during the 2020 Lockdown compared with the previous year, according to ONS statistics reported by the BBC in August. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-53820425
The need to look after our mental health and wellbeing ought to be at the top of the resolutions list this year but how could we use the space in our homes to help?
Can your home make you happy?
At Jackson O’Connor we believe that homes can be designed (or, if necessary, re-designed) to work better for us, reflecting our lifestyle and interests as well as taking into account the character and environment of the building itself. The use of neuroarchitecture (how the brain and body behave in buildings and responds to the quality of light, sound, colour, texture and dimensions of space) can help us to create spaces that have a positive effect on our wellbeing and act to inspire and energise us.
Making room in our homes for a ‘wellness space’, free from the distraction of screens, noise, work, etc., and allowing us to concentrate on something that gives a sense of mindfulness could benefit our mental health enormously.
In a recent survey of homeowners conducted by the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) 70% of respondents said that the design of their current home has affected their mental wellbeing during the pandemic.
The findings also confirmed that 23% believe a better-designed home would directly increase their happiness; they’d be able to relax more (31%) and sleep better (17%), whilst 12% said they needed more personal space. https://www.architecture.com/knowledge-and-resources/knowledge-landing-page/riba-homeowner-survey-happiness-through-design-executive-summary
Whatever our home or work situation, it is important for us all to set aside time and space to do something that makes us feel good.
It may be that you have a passion for creativity such as sewing, pottery, painting or crafting and would love to create a dedicated space at home – be it a dedicated studio, room or space. By having such a defined space in which to retreat.
Perhaps you’re a fitness fanatic who would benefit from a dedicated area for gym equipment or a yoga devotee who would love a calm, peaceful corner to retreat to. It could be that all you crave is a quiet haven where you can have some ‘me time’.
Whatever your passion, a dedicated space within your home or garden, whatever the size, would be a great asset to your mental wellbeing as well as improving your home.
From a straw poll amongst our friends and clients we discovered a rich and broad range of interest that have been integrated into home.
From a climbing wall in an outbuilding, a climbing wall and tree in the garden ….
To upholstery studio…
Carpentry workshop …
Potting room nurturing home grown produce …
Sewing and knitting corner…
Creating a haven in your home:
Jane O’Connor, Director of Jackson O’Connor architecture, decided to transform the external garden room, at the home she shares with her husband and daughter, during Lockdown 1 in 2020. Jane has always had a love for art and crafts. Having enjoying pottery evening classes for 5 years until the pandemic put a stop to everything. With help from husband Andy, she rationalised the garden room space to include a pottery area complete with a potter’s wheel and storage space for clay and glazes, as well as a small garden/planting area. She also claimed some space in the couple’s garage for a kiln and a damp room.
She can now retire to the studio to create and ‘play’ whenever she gets the opportunity. It has the added bonus of a glass roof so is bathed in natural light and looks out onto a beautiful garden and horse paddocks, providing the perfect backdrop for creative thinking.
Jane has found having her own dedicated pottery studio to retire to has allowed her to throw herself entirely into the creative process and take a break from the stresses of juggling work as a busy architect with home schooling. She has already produced a fabulous range of pots and sculptures, experimenting with glaze techniques to produce different colours and finishes and has begun to sell her wares through a shop in Highgate.
“I have always enjoyed creating and designing and I appreciate the sense of fulfilment that creativity can bring. Having space within my own home to pursue my pottery has provided an opportunity to escape from work and home life and develop my skills during lockdown.” says Jane.
“It’s made me realise the importance of our hobbies and pastimes and as we are spending much more time at home, it’s even more essential our homes work for us to support what makes us happy, particularly in these uncertain times.”
“Homes have generally been designed for more traditional domestic activities, that may not suit the way we live today. Identifying what makes us happy and looking at the home with a fresh perspective means it is possible to transform your home to make it work better for you and your family, and all their interests.”