If you ask families, roommates and couples if they would like a little privacy now, the answer is likely to be a resounding yes.
As the coronavirus forces people to stay home, household members have been working or doing school assignments in the same space where people normally relax, and that can put a strain on even the best relationships. Everyone can use a place in their home where they can escape for a little bit of quiet.
We asked interior designers for ideas on ways to carve out that space to make it easier to handle the emotional stress of the pandemic.
“Find a spot with a view,” Pamela Harvey of Pamela Harvey Interiors in Virginia wrote in an email. “A breakfast nook or kitchen island might be an ideal spot to sneak away while still keeping an eye on the family. If it has a view, even better. Deep breaths and a chance to sit down for a minute go a long way.”
Most people don't have extra rooms to designate for meditation or reading, but sometimes a little rearranging of furniture or an online order of an inexpensive item can help create the illusion of separation.
“A bookcase or shelving system on wheels can create a movable privacy option and can be a practical solution for storage,” Gabriela Gargano of Grisoro Designs in New York City wrote in an email.
If you don't own a system on wheels, you may want to temporarily move an existing bookcase or table to create a division of space.
Finding that personal space is particularly difficult in a small apartment. Tyler Hill, co-owner of Mitchell Hill Interiors in Charleston, S.C., owns a 1,000-square-foot apartment.
“One thing that could really help is roping off a section of a room and reserving it for a small home office,” Hill wrote in an email. “Preferably, this needs to be away from the television and any other distractions. If you have a foldable decorative screen, this can greatly help to divide the space and make it feel like you are in your own quiet cocoon.”
Susan Jamieson, founder of Bridget Beari Designs and Bridget Beari Home Store in Richmond, Va., recommends expandable spring tension curtain rods that can be ordered online.
“They come in a variety of sizes, are easy to install, and won’t damage walls,” she wrote in an email. “Mount them in the doorway of your dining room and drape with sheets or fabric that you already have. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on interim solutions. When the fabric is pulled closed, it means private time is in session.”
Jamieson also suggests turning a walk-in closet into a hidden haven.
“I have a small desk set up in mine that works as a quiet place to sketch, read and write,” she wrote. “If you don’t have a demure desk, look around your home and see what could [do] double-duty. Perhaps a folding game table or smaller console.”
Sometimes a quiet space can be as simple as an extra table and chair in the garage or a chair in your living room or bedroom, Gargano wrote.
"The important part is to have the seating face away from the rest of the room," she wrote. "This is a simple way for you to signal you're taking some personal time. While this space doesn't offer the privacy of a separate room, it can help create a visual cue that you're not to be disturbed unless truly needed."
Although a home office with a door is better than having to work with others nearby in the kitchen, Harvey suggests that switching work sites can be a way to find some privacy and a new perspective under any circumstances.
“Think about finding another spot or two to camp out for an hour or so,” Harvey wrote. “Moving around, especially if you can look outside during the sunnier days or even better, go out on a porch, might bring some energy to your day.”