Tuesday, April 16, 2024

How to Make a Temporary Home Feel Like It’s Really Yours

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Before becoming an interior designer, Christine Martin, founder of The Good Abode, was a teacher at an international school. She taught in Colombia, Tunisia and South Korea, and found herself living in standard accommodation provided by her employers, functional and furnished with the essentials, but simple and uninspiring. Martin wanted to feel at home, even in temporary digs, so she started figuring out how to achieve that without investing too much, working with what she had.

“Most of the other traveling teachers customized their spaces using knick-knacks collected from their various posts around the world, trying to make their spaces more welcoming, but the result was busy and cluttered,” says Martin. “Their apartments lacked cohesion or intentionality and gave off the vibe of a mess.” Martin realized that, for her, togetherness wasn’t about incorporating all the favorite things she owned; instead, she says, “It’s about creating sanctuary.” »

After teaching, Martin turned his attention to interior design. She specializes in holistic interior design, an approach that emphasizes engaging all five senses. “[It] treats our living spaces as physical, emotional and spiritual extensions of ourselves.

In recent years, Martin continued to move around, living in Northern and Southern California and several locations in Mexico. When the pandemic hit, she traveled around San Diego for six months on Airbnb to be closer to family. “I started to love the challenge of renting a new rental every month and figured out how to make it my own,” she says. “I carried a Trader Joe’s bag that I called my ‘home kit’.”

Below, Martin reveals some of the contents of his home kit, and other experts explain how to personalize temporary spaces.

Bring your own bulbs

“In South Korea, we lived in skyscrapers and no one had curtains,” Martin recalls. “I looked out the window and saw all these apartments lit by cold, bright LED light.” To create a warm glow, Martin purchased warmer lamps and bulbs.

She always travels with her own light bulbs. “If the light is too cold, I replace them with warmer bulbs and put them back when I leave,” she says. Inexpensive string lights and tea lights can also make a significant difference: “A candle on a nightstand, desk, or kitchen counter instantly changes the mood of a space. »

Jill Wheeler, a psychotherapist and frequent traveler (in 2016, she took a year-long world tour), agrees that lighting is key. She regularly prepares her own options. “It’s nice to be able to control the lighting in the space before bed to slow down our circadian rhythm and acclimate to new environments or time zones.”

Add live plants or fresh flowers

“When I was teaching, the first thing I did was buy a plant – or seven – to make my temporary apartment feel like home,” Martin says. Small succulents often cost just a few dollars at a supermarket; try grouping two or three together on a dining table. Or, take some cut flowers and put them in a pot or water bottle. “I like to buy a bouquet of eucalyptus because it smells good and looks beautiful even when dry,” says Martin. If you’re going on a road trip, a few strands can even be tucked under the visor to keep the car smelling fresh.

Plants and flowers are pretty, but it’s deeper than that. “Extensive research has shown that plants in our living spaces improve mental health and overall mood,” says Wheeler.

Remove visual distractions

Hotels tend to be sparsely decorated—that’s where plants and candles can warm up a space—but if you’re staying at an Airbnb or subletting a house, you might feel overwhelmed by the visual distractions of property of others. “Most homes are cluttered and have too much stuff,” says Martin. You might find yourself surrounded by too many throw pillows or artwork that doesn’t resonate, and you may want to store these items in a closet. To eliminate the stress of remembering where everything goes, take a photo of what the place looked like when you arrived.

“Store and organize in a way that clears your mind and allows you to calm your mind and body,” says Wheeler.

Preparing a meal in an unfamiliar kitchen is a challenge, so it’s worth taking the time to get your bearings before you start cooking. “Take a few minutes to open all the drawers and cabinets in the kitchen to familiarize yourself with the layout, then move any items that were hastily put away in the wrong place when the previous tenants left,” advises CEO Samantha Danahy from In Place organizing company in Jackson, Wyo. “Knowing where things are will save you from burning your eggs looking for the spatula you end up finding in the Tupperware drawer,” she says.

Rebecca Hendrix is ​​a New York therapist who left the city during the pandemic to live in multiple locations for a month at a time. She still enjoys traveling for extended periods of time (her practice is remote) and she’s learned that it’s a good idea to pack a few kitchen essentials. “I bring my knife, my frying pan and my electric kettle,” she says, pointing out that these items are often missing or of poor quality in her rentals. “No matter where I go, I can guarantee the same morning routine and less stress. »

“Unpack when you arrive,” advises Danahy. “I’m that rare animal that uses hotel room drawers because unpacking is the quickest and most efficient way to feel at home in temporary accommodation.”

Hendrix knows personally and from working with his clients that traveling can be stressful as we leave what is familiar behind us. “Most of us feel safe in our homes, but in a temporary space we have lost some of the sense of security that comes with having everything exactly where we expect it to be , and some people may feel a loss of control.” she explains. “Unpacking and organizing our belongings can give us back some of that sense of control. »

Prepare to sleep well

Sleeping in a new place can be difficult, whether it’s dealing with flat pillows, getting the right temperature, or dealing with unfamiliar sounds and smells. Wheeler doesn’t spend a night away from home without three things: a white noise app on her phone, an eye mask, and an all-natural lavender linen spray. “Lavender creates a calming and comforting aromatherapy for sleep and relaxation, and also serves as a cleanser,” she says.

If you want to bring your own comforter or pillows, Danahy suggests packing them in a sleeping bag, compression sack, or space sacks to make items more compact and easier to handle.

Bring familiar comfort

A surefire way to feel at home is to bring your favorite things. “If you wear a bathrobe to drink coffee for two hours in the morning, put it in a packing cube and toss it in your bag,” says Danahy. The same goes for your favorite blanket or pillow. Plus, swapping yours for the common ones left on the Airbnb couch will alleviate some unpleasant factors.

Wheeler always brings a lightweight Turkish towel, which can be used for purposes other than the beach. You can drape it over an ugly chair or attach it over a window for added darkening or privacy.

Jaime Stathis is a writer living in New York’s Hudson Valley..

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