By Monica Parpal Stockbridge

Due to COVID-19, many of us have been spending a lot more time in our own homes.

And while restrictions are beginning to lift, we’re not through this thing yet. Before we can get back to planning our summer trips and social events, we might be facing a little more time inside.

As a result, we may be thinking about finally repainting that room, or updating that furniture we’ve always hated. But before you do anything drastic, take a few pointers from an expert.

Plan ahead

Trish Bonney, Principal Designer and Founder of TAB Interior Designs, knows what you’re going through. Now that people are sitting in their houses rather than traveling like they planned, “they want to invest it in the house that they’re sitting in all day.”

Bonney has always offered virtual design services. In fact, she recent did a kitchen remodel virtually with a client in New Hampshire. For virtual meetings, Bonney coordinates Zoom calls, produces renderings for clients to look at on their screens, and ships fabric or tile samples so clients can touch and feel materials before making final decisions.

For those just wanting to do a DIY paint job, Bonney suggests a virtual tool, like the Instant Paint augmented reality feature from Sherwin Williams, to get a sense of the colors in your room before you paint. You can also get out some graph paper, draw the room to scale, then cut out furniture shapes from another piece of paper, “like paper dolls,” Bonney says, to see how they might fit in the space. It’s a great way to plan a new furniture arrangement before moving any heavy furniture around.

Interior design inspirations - minimalistic cool toned bathroom

Embrace playfulness

After 20 years in business, designer Andrea Schumacher of Andrea Schumacher Interiors started offering virtual customer consultations over Zoom once the pandemic hit. This a la carte service lets her virtually “walk the space” and share ideas of what people can purchase and where to get items.

For those looking for a change, Schumacher suggests going room by room. “Make a list of things that you love in the room, or things you don’t love,” she says. Maybe you’ll be inspired by the colors in your grandmother’s beautiful antique vase or a particular rug you love.

Schumacher loves embracing color, patterns and playfulness. Find custom pillows on Etsy, introduce a funny lamp, or put wallpaper on the ceiling of the dining room, because your “home shouldn’t be so serious,” she says.

Display the important pieces of your life

Design Studio Interior Solutions’ owner Judith Goldman is committed to client parameters, no matter the budget, and no matter whether it’s virtual or in-person. “Our job is not to spend our clients’ money on their behalf,” she says. “We assist them by helping them make their own decisions.”

For virtual consultations, Goldman asks clients to browse Pinterest for ideas of what they love, then take photos of their space. Next, Goldman’s team will do a video call and “walk the space with them.” They can take a look at all the stuff you currently have and help you rearrange them in the room and do a bit of space planning. “That’s a great way to refresh,” Goldman says.

“And it’s not about decluttering,” she adds. “It’s about organizing. It’s about thoughtful display of important storytelling pieces of your life.” And if they’re displayed properly, she says, those collections of life experience feel like a warm embrace.

Think about embracing the history you have in your home or with your family. This is a good time to look through old photo albums and travel books and nostalgically look back at those memories and why they mattered.

“If you don’t like something, take it down,” she adds. These aren’t easy times, so bring in things that make you smile. Take a couple of hours to look around and make your home what you want. “You’d be surprised,” she says, at what even a vase of fresh flowers can do.

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