No matter the size, layout or location, every home must function in a number of ways. Home is the place where we cook and eat together, or watch Netflix on the couch with a container of takeout. It’s where we sleep, relax and get ourselves ready for a Monday morning meeting or a Friday night out. Our homes are used as work and creative spaces, or simply serve as a quiet escape from the world. Thus, in order to maximize the natural versatility of your apartment, condo or house, it’s important to have designated areas that fulfill all of your different needs.
With that in mind, here are 5 essential spaces to consider incorporating into your home:
1. The Gathering Place
Every home benefits from a place where people can converge. A gathering place is inviting, comfortable and accessible—you might even refer to it as the “heart” of your home. While this space will look different for everyone, the most natural location to come together is, of course, wherever food is being served. For most families, that location will be a dining table in a light-filled and open space. Yet, if you don’t have a separate eating area, consider transforming your kitchen into a more enjoyable spot to gather by placing bar stools or chairs around a small table or island. Alternatively, in warm months, break out the grill and encourage people to mingle on your porch or in the yard. Overall, the most important aspect is how the space feels. When in doubt, opening a bottle (or two) will always brighten the mood.
2. The Hangout Spot
In a small apartment, the place where you gather together to eat and talk may inevitably be where you stay and hang out. Yet, if possible, it’s always nice to create a more low-key space to just chill. A hangout spot may be as simple as a large and luxurious sofa placed in front of the TV. Alternatively, it could be a separate room or basement area designed solely as a place to put your feet up. When creating this spot in your home, think about what might signal relaxation to someone else walking in. Comfortable furniture, dimmer lighting and entertainment in the form of media or games all go a long ways. Remember to keep blankets and pillows handy for cuddling, and provide a stylish coffee table for snacks and drinks.
3. The Workspace
Those of us who work remotely shouldn’t be the only ones who have home offices. Having a separate, designated area where you can work, read the news, pay bills, draft emails or even just sit and do a Sudoku puzzle is a great idea for any home. Not only does an out-of-the-way area allow for privacy, but it may also help separate your professional life from your personal life. A workspace could be as simple as a small table and chair in some tucked-away corner, or a designated office that contains organizational units, bookshelves and a desk. Either way, the feeling of the space should allow for productivity and concentration. If that requires a “Quiet, please!” sign on the door, so be it.
4. The Private Sanctuary
A sanctuary space is different from a workspace or hangout spot in that its purpose is to serve as an area to focus on your wellbeing. Making a home sanctuary can be particularly enriching for those who live hectic lives and find that their attention is always demanded. (We’re looking at you, parents.) This is also a space to get creative—both with your activities and your design choices. In order to build a little retreat, consider transforming an unused attic into a meditation room, or a backyard shed into a yoga studio. A cozy chair and ottoman placed by a window can make for a tranquil reading or drawing nook, but consider using Japanese-style screens in order to garner more privacy. Candles, incense and colorful fabrics are an affordable way to make any space feel more peaceful. Yet, overall, the most important aspect of a private sanctuary is respect—make it clear to others that this space is designated for your self-care.
5. The Sleep Zone
Over the last few years, more focus has been placed on the importance of sleep. This is likely because we live in a world of long work hours, high stress and addicting technology—all of which can keep us awake for hours past our intended bedtimes. Therefore, turning your bedroom into a designated “sleep zone” can help deter some of these distractions and establish boundaries. Beyond buying the most comfortable mattress and pillows you can afford, other ways to create a more sleep-friendly bedroom include: hanging up sun-blocking curtains, establishing a “no phones” rules in and around your bed and designating a separate hang-out spot for watching TV in your home. The more you designate your bed for what it was originally intended for, the more likely that your body is going to associate your bedroom with getting Zzzz’s—not for checking your notifications on Twitter.