Stay at Home Advice from an Architect

5 Ways to Make Sure Your Home Supports You

I know these are difficult times. We have been encouraged to stay at home, and it’s normal to feel uneasy without a familiar routine. To maintain physical and emotional wellness, create a new normal — an oasis of your own. Be with yourself, your family or your pet. My stay-at-home advice during Covid-19 is to feel at home both indoors and outdoors.

Architects are problem solvers and have specific knowledge to help others. Most crisis training, such as first responder training, involves remaining calm and calming others around you. Similarly, this list is intended to provide 5 things you can do to accomplish calm in your life, even if it feels the world is unsteady.

Plants, light, reassuring scents. When we are all spending more time than usual at home, remember these are all things you can hold close. Being more centered on the home can actually accent things we take for granted — the feel of a forsythia stem, the warmth of the sun, or the intoxicating smell of a hyacinth. Live a little. Trust that you can find your calm indoors and outdoors. Savor the simple pleasures. Enjoy spring. When you are ready to venture outside, here are 5 ways for you to come and go from home safely:

  1. Trust the process. We can learn a lot from the WELL Building Standard®. This is a rating system for commercial buildings, which are designed to keep the occupants healthy and happy. The rating system is based upon the understanding that wellness is vital to our well-being, and employees are one of the largest assets a company can build. Additionally, the U.S. government publishes standards for facilities to manufacture products that are intended for human consumption. These are referred to as Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). These provide guidelines on how employees are to enter these spaces and clean these spaces, which involve an airlock or vestibule. We can migrate some of these requirements to our homes.
  2. Minimize the amount of dirt and dust that enters your home. The mudroom is designed for this purpose. Think of it as a GMP vestibule. Remove shoes, outer garments, wash your hands, and then put on clean clothes that are only for home. A garage is also a good place to transition into the home because it also serves as a vestibule, with an outer door and an inner door. You can practice a similar routine if you enter through the front door, too. Put linen or newspaper down, place your stuff on top, and then toss it in the laundry. While air contamination may not be directly related to Covid-19, in a GMP facility they clean meticulously to ensure good air quality and surface sanitization. You can do the same at home, to both keep it clean of dirt and potentially other contaminants.
  3. Go for a walk. Not only is it okay to take a walk, it can be especially beneficial nowadays. A nice walk in the sun and fresh air helps to balance your mood. In fact, this is consistent with biophilic design practices, and the Japanese cultural practice of Forest Bathing. Sustained numerous contacts with nature, what architects often refer to as “indoor-outdoor connection” welcome the outdoors in and the indoors out. If you have a garden, bring in a blooming plant. Sow fast-growing lettuce in a box. When bringing in any herbs or vegetables, rinse, dry and perhaps store them in the mudroom, or even a gardener’s pantry if you have one. Integrate this garden-to-table lifestyle to find your calm and self-reliance.
  4. Take your work outside. Have you ever fantasized about working from home? If you can now, make that fantasy a reality. Sit on your deck or atop your roof in a lawn chair. Enjoy the sun shining, the breeze coming across your laptop. Listen to the birds chirping or the squirrels playing from your window. Or maybe it’s the ocean waves or the ripples on a lake. Go outside and see what there is to quietly observe. You may be surprised to find calm and beauty even when it’s raining.
  5. Find a reassuring scent. No matter how many times you clean, you need to feel it’s clean. Mental health and cleanliness go hand in hand. What does clean smell like for you? For my aunt, it’s bleach; for one of my clients, it’s the smell of the seaside. Consider which scent reassures you. This will provide a sensory trigger so that you can say: I’m done cleaning, it feels clean, I feel safe. A couple drops of lavender oil could mean the difference between a good day and a bad day. It’s Spring! Follow time through smell. Nature is full of routine and beauty.

With this in mind, find your calm and help your loved ones do the same. This way, when you enter any building, whether commercial or your home, you can make good decisions.

If you’re wondering whether your home is well-designed for daily living in addition to times of crisis, this could be a good time to talk with an architect over the phone. To schedule a consultation with Synergy Architects and discover your dominant senses through their 5 Senses Design™ survey, call 267-756-7004 or visit us online at

Wishing you and your loved ones the best

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