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Create a personal retreat in your home

Updated July 16, 2020 - 5:43 pm

So much has changed since the pandemic quarantine began almost five months ago and one of the more noticeable changes has occurred inside the home. Our beautiful cozy home has become a full-time restaurant, entertainment center, child care center, schoolroom, home office and even a hair and beauty salon.

Dorothy Willetts, an award-winning Southern California interior designer, has been asking a lot of questions about the “new” home since the quarantine began: How do you relax? How do you get away when you’re at home? How do you manage stress?

Her goal was to gather enough information to create personal spaces or retreats for each person in his or her home.

“The information gave me insight on what a personal space means to different people and what I needed to know in order to create that space,” she said. “The science and design behind the most successful rooms in a house allows me to design even more innovative and healthy solutions.”

Willetts believes light and sounds create options for individual moods.

“Light allows you to filter and adjust for the mood,” she said. “I love the look of a textured sheer drape in both modern and traditional settings. Add dimmer switches to lights to adjust to your mood. With sound, we’re attracted to sounds of nature like water, waves and birds. Add those sounds to your playlist while removing sounds or music you want out of your space.

“There needs to be a relaxing of the shoulders, a sigh of relief. So bring in whatever helps to mitigate the stresses that we are all dealing with these days and whatever gives you the feelings you ultimately want to live with.”

In Las Vegas, Jane Cunningham is an interior designer with Room Resolutions and creates comfortable homes around the world.

“People are creating getaway spaces within their homes,” she said. “They need a personal solitude spot. This means moving away from the hub of the home where all the noise and activity is and trying to locate a quiet and private area.

“Over the years, new homes have been built with open spaces that are great for sharing and entertaining. So now you need to find a space that may have an existing wall or find a space where you can erect a movable wall or stand-alone divider to create that private nook. Start there and ask what you need to make yourself comfortable.”

The first order of business might be cleaning out all the clutter. Once completed, that alone brings a sense of solitude and accomplishment. Cunningham said the private space can be in the corner of the master bedroom or in the guest room. It doesn’t need to be a large space, just a space that is comfortable for reading and relaxing.

“Start by making sure the chair is comfortable with a soft pillow and maybe a side table where you can place a cup of coffee or tea,” she said. “Maybe add an ottoman for your feet. Some fresh flowers are nice, along with a room diffuser or candle with your favorite scent. If you have a certain painting that is bright and cheerful, bring it into the room. Have some books nearby including family photo albums or travel books.

“If possible, select an area near a window where you can look out or where it comes in over your shoulders. The idea is to calm the noise from the rest of the world and create an environment that is relaxing.”

According to Cunningham, what people do now with their rooms is something that is going to be there for the near future, especially with home offices as people can no longer work at the kitchen table.

“I’m keeping busy with both residential and commercial businesses and find that medical and retail offices are doing what homeowners are doing,” she said. “That includes painting interior walls and getting away from neutral or stark white. Here is an opportunity to do something appealing such as adding a calm color in shades of green or blue. You might want something more uplifting involving shades of yellow or orange on an accent wall. Just select a color that you gravitate toward.”

Willetts reminds homeowners not to forget their air conditioning and to change air filters regularly to avoid unwanted odors or bacteria.

“As we continue to redefine what home means to us, we look to what gives us comfort and what enhances our overall well-being,” she said. “Strong sharp shapes need to be balanced as too many pointy edges can make a person feel uneasy. Symmetrical layouts are familiar and easier for the brain to process.

“Now is the time to indulge yourself with a pullout refrigerator drawer in your bathroom for eye masks or a coffee bar in the bedroom or essential oils displayed in your shower. Do whatever is going to help you be a better you.”

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