At this point in time, the UK is currently emerging from the third lockdown in an ongoing bid to curb the ever-changing COVID-19.
After the first lockdown in March 2020, the economy across a majority of sectors understandably shrank. However, as people realised that the virus was not to be defeated anytime soon; the focus shifted towards the humble abode and home improvement. The Office for National Statistics reported that:
‘the increase in repair and maintenance (20.3%) in the three months to August 2020 was because of record growth in all repair and maintenance sectors; the largest contributor was private housing repair and maintenance, which grew by 35.6%’.
But why, you may ask?
Well, ostensibly, it appears that spaces have a far greater impact upon psychological and physical wellbeing; and makeshift home offices just don’t cut it over the long term.
A niche area of research known as ‘Neuroarchitecture’ aims to understand this phenomenon. This convergence of these two starkly different disciplines analyses the physiological, emotional, and psychological responses to spaces.
Have you ever decided not to use the public toilet in fear of what lies beyond, because of a previous unpleasant experience? Or, contrastingly, been in awe of an architectural masterpiece – the Sistine chapel for instance? The former would result in an increased stress hormone known as ‘cortisol’; faster breathing and increased heart rate is to be expected, along with the ‘fight or flight response’. The latter would release a neurotransmitter, known as ‘dopamine’, which taps into the brain’s reward system and creates feelings of pleasure. Simply put, you are a product of your environment; an important sentiment that is treasured by Silicon Valley tech companies (bean bags, slides, free restaurants, and all that jazz).
However, the lockdown has encouraged us to bring our hobbies, routines, and work lives into a single setting. The home has become a more versatile place: gym, yoga studio, office, manufacturing plant, pub; sometimes all of that is just in the living room alone. But, trying to balance work, life, and family responsibilities without a clear-cut distinction between each is nearly impossible.
Our team at Carpenta Carpentry have suggested two of their ‘life hacks’ to make WFH and general pandemic life a little bit simpler (with some handy places to visit in Haddenham and Wendover, Buckinghamshire):
The Danish buzzword ‘hygge’ swept the UK and the USA a few years ago. The word originally derived from a Norwegian name meaning ‘well-being’ and is best translated as ‘cosiness’; although this doesn’t directly articulate an accurate translation. Meik Wiking, author of the international bestselling book ‘The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well’ describes candlelight as ‘instant hygge’. The rule of thumb here is that the lower the temperature of (or Kelvins; e.g flames and sunsets sit at around 1800K, the optimal spot) the better. Bright 5000K LED strip lights are no go territory for accessing ultimate hygge. Candles, family and warm cocoa (suitable substitutes include: Wine, or a G&T) are certain to get this feeling flowing during the darkness of night.
Norsk, a business located in Haddenham, offers a refined selection of scandi products which encapsulate the hygge ethos. They have a physical store, with an adjoining coffee shop; along with an e-commerce store which you can visit here: https://www.norsklifestyle.com/home-accessories. A lovely selection of lamps, candles, and other home accessories that are sure to make your home feel cosier than ever.
Western ideals regarding what constitutes good design are essentially informed by mathematics. Symmetry and the golden ratio are evident within architecture, film, fashion, app/ web/ graphic design, the list goes on. However, in the East, in Japan for example, such principles are not so prominent.
The Japanese also have a term that cannot be directly translated – ‘Wabi Sabi’. One way to conceptualise this idea is to view life as ‘perfectly imperfect’. This is evident in Kintsugi (‘the Japanese art of fixing plates’ or ‘golden joinery’). If a plate is damaged, the mending process focuses on highlighting the flaw in a beautiful way, rather than hiding it with transparent adhesive.
Nature, the beautiful Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire countryside, are prime examples of something that is ‘perfectly imperfect’. Wendover Woods, located near the town of Wendover in Buckinghamshire, consists of a mixture of coniferous and broad-leaved trees. No two trees are the same and provide a sense of uniqueness and rusticness. Hence, why wooden furniture is so popular – each piece embodies the randomness of nature.
However, the inspiration can go beyond finishing choices. Biophilic and ecological design practices with well-being in mind. Bring the beauty of Wendover Woods inside, with plants. Plants have been found to reduce stress and improve concentration. A great choice is an air-purifying plant. Low maintenance ones such as Peace Lilies or Aloe Vera are perfect.
So, there you have it. Incorporate some slow-living ideas from Scandinavian and Japanese cultures to make life a little easier.
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