Finding small spots at home to call your own

Finding small spots at home to call your own
This image released by Anna Popov shows a spare room that was converted to a reading room with climbing shelves and cubbies for cats to enjoy in Redmond, Wash., designed by Anna Popov. (John Granen via AP)

It’s not a “she shed” or a “man cave.” More of a “me space.”

It might be a little nook beside a stairway. Or along a wall with a nice window. An enclosed balcony. A basement alcove. Even deep inside a roomy closet.

In a home full of roommates or family members, there are times when we want to be by ourselves. A good walk is restorative, but if the weather’s bad or you don’t want to put shoes on, it’s nice to have a little place at home we can call our own.

After the rise of work-from-home and remote learning, interior design experts see a shift: While homeowners still like open-concept living spaces for some parts of the home, they also are asking for private spaces and a way to compartmentalize their personal lives, away from their working ones.

Parents, caregivers and pressed careerists want somewhere at home that alleviates stress — a “refuge,” however small, where they can unwind and rejuvenate, according to the American Society of Interior Designers’ 2022 Trends Report.

So how do you create this little den of privacy? First, think about what you want to do there, says Monique Valeris, senior home editor at Good Housekeeping.

“Maybe you’d like a meditation room that’s set up with a great floor cushion or hanging chair,” she says. “A quiet reading nook in a hallway, with a storage bench. Or a space designed around one of your hobbies. Think about your lifestyle and the activities that bring you joy and a sense of calm at home.”

During a conversation with a client who’s a professional writer, Los Angeles designer Anne Sage says she asked what the woman’s dream home office looked like.

“She told me she’d love the option to step away from her desk and read, recharge, take a nap, let ideas percolate.”

Sage created a bookshelf-filled space, and enveloped the walls and sofa in a textural stripe upholstery fabric.

“The whole room feels like a very chic and comfortable hug, one where my client can be productive and creative at her own pace,” she says.

For a cat-loving client, designer Anna Popov in Redmond, Wash., created a “me and the pets” space. A spare bedroom became a reading room for the humans, and Popov installed climbing shelves and several cubbies for the feline ones. She says the space is now referred to as the “everybody wants to be a cat” room.

Amy Azzarito, author of Elements of a Home: Curious Histories Behind Everyday Household Objects, bought a house in Marin County, Calif., in 2018 that had a generous bedroom and a tiny closet — “more of a step-in than a walk-in.”

She didn’t want to do any renovation work, so instead she worked with designers from California Closets to decorate and build out a small, windowed pass-through to the closet. They created a built-in dresser and hanging area, then wraparound seating with roomy drawers. With a calm palette of blush-toned neutrals, it also has a pendant light made of wood beads, and a framed artwork that says “AH.”

Another option: Create a glassed-in space. Sliding doors installed in a room can section off part of it. Or, to delineate a personal area more simply and affordably, consider creating a feature wall with wallpaper or murals, or a different colour paint.

Find your comfiest toss pillow and softest throw, and add warm ambient lighting and perhaps some aromatherapy with a diffuser or scented candle.

If nature is your de-stressor, add collected rocks, shells or greenery.

Some people prefer silence, but if music soothes you, bring in a wireless player or even a turntable.

Finally, if there’s no other room for a little refuge, the bathroom can become the ultimate “me space.”

There are waterproof, wireless, voice-activated speakers in the bathroom marketplace. Or for a really immersive bath experience, there are shower installations available with a rainshower head, LCD touchscreens, pre-programmed sound and light, and visuals like waterfalls, sunsets — even a crackling fireplace.

Kim Cook/The Associated Press

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