As the smoke chokes us, the pandemic frightens us, and the politics render us immobile, it is difficult to get inspired to do anything creative or constructive lately. After all, we have bigger concerns: finances, relationships, the earth, for example! Life as we knew it is on hold.

Since the quarantine began, I continue to find a slight change of scenery, company or activity helpful in improving my attitude, if only temporarily. Since we are spending more time at home than ever before, I’d like to suggest a few easy, use-what-you-have projects that will give you immediate satisfaction while significantly improving your living space.

Ready? Paint a single wall. Simply choose a focal area, buy a pint and paint it a happy, tranquil, clean or interesting color that you love.

To cover the ratty sofa, drape the back and seat in any folded fabric you like. Tuck a dowel or broomstick down where the seat and back meet to secure the material, and enjoy a new look for that old (but very necessary) piece.

Hang (or re-hang) curtains high. Installing rods and hardware as close to the ceiling as possible will create a feeling of more height and breathing space. If additional length is needed, add a cuff of coordinating fabric.

Large walls call for a large piece of art, but if none is available, a similar visual impact can be created by hanging a group of related pictures very close together, with the frames uniformly less than an inch apart. A cluster of historical family photos or your children’s art can do the trick.

Gather bare branches or autumn foliage from the yard and arrange in a tall vase. I am especially attracted to the cat tails and reeds I see on my walks lately, and the pastiche trees are just starting to turn. Tip: always carry clippers!

Updating the fabric on your padded dining chairs can change the look of the whole space, and I assure you, it is the easiest, most rewarding thing you can do in an hour. Unscrew the pad from its base, measure, and buy or gather enough fabric to re-cover all chairs. Then start stapling.

(Speaking of fabric, consider cloth shower curtains, tea towels, painters’ drop cloths or yards of burlap as inexpensive, durable materials for any sewing project).

Pick a closet or cabinet to declutter.

Take down half the stuff on your walls and see if you miss it.

Bring in a pot of mums or a trio of pumpkins.

If we are being honest, even the most optimistic among us are feeling stuck, stagnant and tired. We are not alone. Small steps will get us there.

Where you live and sleep matters.

Linda Lawrence is the owner of HouseCalls for Redesign. Contact her at housecalls4redesign@comcast.net, 728-2732 or visit housecalls4redesign.com.

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