Since going out to restaurants, seeing friends and family, and being within six feet of anyone is pretty much shut down due to COVID-19, we’re thinking of ways to make home the place to be. Here are a few items we’re adding to our to-do lists as we collectively—and separately—ride out the unknown.
Organize, Purge, and Fix Things
Organize your bookshelf. Rearrange volumes by author, by genre, or any way you’d like—just not by color, please.
Test out all your pens and markers. That feeling when you go to write something down and wind up dragging a dry pen across a notepad? Never again. Throw them out.
Rearrange your living room. You bought that sectional for its flexibility, so give it a go. Flip the whole room over. Change your life.
Mend your clothes. Darn socks. Sew buttons back on. Adjust the length of a skirt, or give your old jeans a new look with a raw hem.
Address the garage. It’s often a space of relegation, where clutter and unfinished projects go to gather dust. Take a day or two to sort through it all.
KonMari the whole house. While on the topic of clutter, give every item inside your house a good hard look and ask yourself Marie Kondo’s ultimate qualifier—does it spark joy? Make plans to part with anything that doesn’t.
Read something. If you already watched Contagion, try out some pandemic-related reading—Severance by Ling Ma, or Pale Horse Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter. Or, read the Social Distancing Manifesto.
Find out what the heck "Cottagecore" means. Hint: it’s as quaint as it sounds.
Create an Instagram account for your pet. If ever there was a time to post and share infinity pictures of your cute (or ugly) dog doing cute things, this is it.
Dream about travel. Dive into Dwell Travel stories to plan that next trip, for when this whole thing finally settles down.
Pick up a deck of cards. Or play a board game. This is the perfect moment for some real human connection with your family, flatmates, or whomever else you’re holed up with.
Binge watch TV. It’s the golden age of streaming, and there is simply too much amazing programming to see it all. But you can still try.
Listen to design podcasts. Keep up with your favorites, or add a few new ones to the rotation. Here’s a list of some of our top podcasts.
Clean and Tackle DIY Home Fixes
Deep clean the house. Dust from top to bottom, clean out shower heads and faucets with vinegar, make your own cleaning agents, and shake out rugs.
Your aquarium needs attention. Scrubbing the fish tank is one of those chores that gets short shrift, so here’s your chance to add it to the list. Finally, you’ll see the goldfish smiling back at you.
Get an emergency kit together. Get supplies ready and establish a plan for the whole family in the event that things get serious.
Mop and polish hardwood floors. If you have polish on hand, give your wood floors some attention. This task pairs well with rearranging the living room.
Iron your linens. Do this just before making the bed for the ultimate in luxurious sleep.
Clean your coffee maker. Get the funky burnt flavor out of your coffee maker, and you’ll discover those finely tuned tasting notes. Fill the reservoir with equal parts water and white vinegar and then run a brew cycle for a refresh. You can also experiment with some different coffee-making techniques.
Pamper yourself, and your pet. When you’ve deep cleaned the entire house and are basking in your sense of accomplishment, get out the bath bombs, light some candles, and take a soak. Your pet could likely use a bath, too.
Make the ultimate playlist. Do a deep dive into Brazilian funk, or get weird with the best of ASMR. Put it in a playlist to send to your friends, or save it for when you can slam it over some poolside speakers this summer.
Self-reflection is a form of self-love. Find your old LiveJournal or Tumblr account and reflect on your chaotic youth. Learn from it.
Work on your stand-up routine. Your pet or flatmate makes the perfect captive audience.
Foster an internet romance. In-person affection is mostly on pause, making digital relationships de rigueur. If ever there was one, this is the moment to kindle an online romance.
Do yoga. Work on your flow and flexibility from the comfort of your home. Foster inner calmness and find your balance in the midst of uncertainty.
Care for Your Kitchen and Cook Something
Oil your wooden kitchen tools and cutting boards. Most mineral oils will do the trick—and they’ll give your wooden widgets a much longer life.
Make sourdough bread. If you’ve got some yeast in your pantry, and it’s not too old, get down to perfecting that sourdough bread recipe. You could also start a kombucha culture, or pickle any hearty vegetables you’ve got lying around.
Make a pantry meal. If you can’t get to the supermarket, think about making some Spanish rice and beans from canned or dry goods. Perfectly simple.
Or, order takeout (if local regulations allow). Restaurants are taking a huge hit from the virus. If you’re in good health and not at risk, order a takeout meal or two from your favorite establishments to help them weather the downturn.
Label absolutely everything. And KonMari your kitchen, while you’re at it. Know where and what everything is, and get rid of anything you don’t use for a perfectly uncluttered and organized kitchen.
Upgrade Your Greenery
Propagate your plants. Take cuttings from healthy mother plants and place them in a glass of water. You can double or triple your plant game without spending a dime, and the abundance of greenery will improve your well-being.
Sprout an avocado pit. This gorgeous vase is meant to turn acorns into oak trees, but it’s likely easier to get your hands on an avocado.
Repot your plants. As plants grow they’ll need a bigger vessel. Transfer those that are outgrowing their space to larger pots or planters.
Get some inspiration. See what a green thumb can do for a space, and take some tips from these plant-filled homes.
Grow an herb garden. Having fresh herbs on hand (and learning how to implement them in your cooking) will take at-home meals from good to gourmet. Get some tips here.
Reach out to loved ones. Isolation is a drag—it’s more important than ever to chat regularly with family and friends.
Plan a virtual hang out. What better way to lift spirits than with a digital happy hour? Plan a virtual cocktail party with friends to try out some new recipes, and share tips from a master mixologist for when you can all host IRL.
Livestream something. A ton of workout and yoga studios are offering virtual classes for folks to follow along at home—and even your favorite bands are throwing live concerts from their living rooms so you can watch from yours.
Share your experience. Social media is cathartic. Chime in with your community by sharing your challenges, the adjustments you’ve made while sheltering in place, or what’s made the experience more bearable.
Write a letter. It’s not clear when the ship will steady, so you’ve got time to break out some stationary. Pen a thoughtful note and pop it in the mail, and be sure to thank a postal worker.
Cover image from our story: A California Couple Give a Cookie-Cutter Brooklyn Condo Some Personality.
Get the Dwell Newsletter
Be the first to see our latest home tours, design news, and more.