With the Pandemic going strong more spaces are coming to serve multiple purposes. My childhood home was no longer a cozy place of memory but a chaotic work-live space with five other people vying for the same resources. My apartment in Philly is no longer the place I go to relax and crash after a long day since I now spend my entire day here.

One thing I realized quickly was that both places needed to undergo changes to function for everyone. I needed to subdivide these spaces and practice new habits to make the most of my live-work space. Here are some of the following ways I have adjusted my apartment (and even my childhood home) for the past and upcoming semester:

  • Each space has a defined purpose. Even if it’s technically all in one room each part of the room has been defined. In the case of my apartment I have a desk along one wall which serves as my studio and work space. My kitchen table serve as my creating space (for models, large drawings) while the kitchen counters are reserved for cooking only. My couch and mini folding desk serve as my lecture space, for comfy class and note taking. My comfy chairs by the window and bookshelves are where I can watch TV, take calls, and just unwind. My bedroom is for sleeping, exercising, and chatting with family. Back in my childhood home I did something similar. I had a desk in my room for studio class. My other classes I set up a bag with an iPad, a notebook, a charger, and any miscellaneous things needed for class and took the bag to the back porch or in the living room for a change of place. This was easy to clean up, store, and made changing work places possible.
  • Each defined space is set up and left alone. I keep everything in a very similar arrangement constantly. This way it is ready to work no matter the time. It also allows me to leave things as they are without a ton of take down and set up every time I need to do something. This is much easier to do in my apartment but even at home I set up “kits” or “bags” of things needed for each class or task so I could pick up, move, and work.
  • Set boundaries. While it’s great to have room to spread out and be able to assign different chairs and tables purpose don’t go haywire. In my case nothing work or school related is allowed to go into my bedroom. Not everything has to be programmed. Some spaces can just be.
  • Have a schedule. Seriously, knowing when I start something and when I get to call it quits has really helped. There’s nothing more exhausting than not being able to walk away for a real break when all you’ve done is work on the same thing in the same space. Give yourself breaks, or even 10 minutes between changing set ups to refresh. This goes for work/school too! At night I completely shut the door to keep out computer screen light and allow myself a break from the set up in my living space. This boundary is also timed. At a certain time each night I close up shop and each morning I start up at the same time.

I understand that some of this advice is contingent on having lots of free space. And even space that isn’t shared. But this is do able even with five other people living in the same space! It really just requires communication, flexibility, and mobility.

Honestly be kind to yourself! Try things out, maybe one at a time, until things click. If anyone has any other suggestions for really pandemic proofing their work-live spaces for maximum livability and work productivity please share! I love to keep improving and hope this helps!

Home Garden

While at home I had a much larger garden to plan and a series of projects inside and outside the house, my second home doesn’t need quite as much work. Having left my apartment in March I knew that coming back in August one thing would certainly need work: my garden.

The before was just too sad to photograph but the after is quite lovely. I am sorry to the plants that didn’t make it. I am happy to say that a fair number of the plants were salvageable and are making strong comeback!

Some of the survivors include my 6 year old cactus, a number of succulents, a succulent like plant with gorgeous red flowers, a struggling but trying desert rose, some thai mint, staghorn fern, and a money tree. The newest member which I am most excited for is my yellow rose! I can’t wait for it to bloom!

The last blossom had a lovely strong perfume. I have since cut off the old buds and pruned away the sickly branches. New buds have started to form and I am super excited for the big reveal!

Project Porch

The Back Porch has seen better days. Up until this past week (think June when this started) it has been the safe house for many miscellaneous items from the Florida sun, rain, and heat. As the redesign of the backyard ramps up the design has extended into this poorly used space.

Project Porch was officially started earlier this week with a clean out. Bulky furniture, old toys, and gardening tools were pulled out of the space to make way for patch work. The Porch itself had suffered from a set of broken tiles (damaged by unknown source). These surrounding tiles in turn began to lift and became more susceptible to breaking as items were moved out of the porch. In all 12 tiles were cut out and replaced.

Thankfully we had an extra set of the correct tiles to patch together the hole in the floor. After a quick trip to Home Depot/Lowe’s to purchase grout and mortar, finally had everything necessary to fix the floor. My Mom and I spent the next two days, probably 3 hours a day, to sand, sweep, mix materials, and lay out the tiles. Thankfully the mortar and grout each had drying periods of 24 hours so once everything was set in we could work on other tasks.

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Second task to occupy us while the tiles set were an old-to-new set of benches. There were two older backless benches in the porch which we decided to re-cover and keep. Several photographs of the porch and pool tiles and a quick trip to Joann’s and we had new blue fabric to complete the set. With fabric in hand and a note to check how much seating foam we had at home, we returned to the hard work of stripping down the seats. Surprisingly, despite all the other work, the task of removing staples from the benches to remove the original seating cover ripped up the skin on my finger. Honestly didn’t expect that task of all tasks to get me. Once the staples were all removed the benches needed to be sanded and prepped for staining.

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Once the tiles were fully set and the benches ready we proceeded with our clean out. The porch was emptied of all furniture, potted plants, fishing cats, and other odds-n-ends. The walls were washed with a sprayer filled with a Jomax-bleach-water mix and then rewashed with a water rinse. The newly finished floor was swept, mopped, and shined. At least 6 wasp nests were removed and the very insistent occupants shooed away. Artwork was hung up on the walls.

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The furniture and odds-n-ends that had be removed were now carefully sorted through. Furniture from the house was selected to update the indoor-outdoor look of the porch. Some of the original odds-n-ends were selected for resale and others were sent to the trash/recycling. A few pieces were salvaged to sand, paint, stain, refurbish and reintroduce to the porch.

The pieces selected for resale will help fund the redesign of the porch and backyard. There’s already a list of things to buy, including additional porch seating, planter boxes, gravel, good soil, cypress mulch, etc. Thankfully, thus far, each new part to the project has supported the rest of the project in surprising ways, from finding much needed resources to funding purchases.

A lot of time and some of the funding went into the search for chairs. Hunting for the style of chairs wanted, for the right price, and in the right time frame (August!!!) was different. From online sites like Wayfair and Amazon to local garage sales, thrift stores, Goodwills, and department stores it was a really interesting search with a lot of unique  finds. Ultimately we purchased a set of wicker chairs and a center storage table. These beautiful pieces were purchased at a Goodwill for under $35 total! With a little, or a lot, of scrubbing, washing, sanding, refinishing, and completely new, homemade,pillows/cushions the porch has gained super comfy seating.

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With seating down and storage solved, only a few small projects remain for this immediate area. A sandbag chain needs to be made and filled for flood prevention during storms. The floor drain between the pool deck and covered porch needs to be cleaned out and restored. The gutters just above need to be cleaned out, as they are annually, and a solution made to prevent them from clogging up. I am certain if this is solved then half the water concerns directly below will be taken care of. Once these are done there are sooo many more projects to take up in the back yard, pool deck, and inside!

I can’t wait to finish up these little projects and pull together at least one space for everyone to enjoy!