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#034: 6 design strategies to rework your spaces while staying home + what this season can teach you about your home

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In this episode, Cara sits down solo behind the mic to share some strategies for reworking your spaces while staying home. All this time at home can be a good opportunity to more clearly see what's not working or functioning well in your spaces and rework things to better serve and support you in this season of change and uncertainty.

Tune into these practical tips and share your best tips as a community on social so we can all help and support each other as we make our homes a haven.

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EP 34 TRANSCRIPT

...just in case you wanna read

Cara Newhart (00:00):
You are listening to the MakeSpace podcast, episode number 34

INTRO (00:23):
Welcome to make space a home design show made to inspire you to create spaces who truly feel at home in Cara Newhart sits down with amazingly brilliant guests for conversations that dive deeper than pin worthy rooms to tease out the essentials of creating spaces that feed your soul and inspire your creativity from home design strategies to decor, advice to interior design, tips and tricks. These conversations help you dream up a beautifully lived in home. Cara is the designer and chief creative enthusiasts behind Never Skip Brunch. Her work has been featured in print publications like PEOPLE StyleWatch and Denver style magazine. As an influencer, Cara has collaborated with brands like Amazon, H & M, Twitter and Thrillist. Here's your host, Cara Newhart.

Cara Newhart (01:20):
Hello and welcome back to make space. I hope your week has been good. I know things are kind of all over the place right now, including my emotions day to day, like I'm having days that are amazing and I feel so positive and inspired and days where I am just like at a low. So just a friendly reminder that this experience is different for everyone and there's really no right way to be dealing with this. So wherever you're at, if that's in a junk food, PJ's bingeing hole or whether it's like I'm going to work out every day and really get my life together, whatever it is, I hope it's working for you. And I hope that maybe some of those rough spots are balanced out with good days, maybe time to explore creatively or time to spend with family, whatever it is. So I actually sat down to do an entirely different episode today.

Cara Newhart (02:14):
I was going to edit this interview I did with Hilton Carter who is like a plant stylist and he just launched his second book and that's coming next week because I'm so excited about it. But in the middle of editing, I just had this like idea come to me and I just feel like we have to talk about this today. So today's episode is all about some design strategies that you can use to rework your spaces while you're staying at home. I know this isn't a possibility for everyone, but if it's something that you are interested in doing, I wanted to give you some tools and tips to help equip you to do that. I was realizing that all this time at home can really teach you so much about your house and how things are functioning. Like we're basically living at home full time unless obviously you're an essential worker and your life might look a lot different right now.

Cara Newhart (03:04):
Um, then the rest of us that are staying at home as much as possible, but I realized that this can really bring to light a lot of the problem areas in your house and a lot of the areas that need attention. And if you watched my Instagram stories recently, you might already know why I've come to this conclusion because I thought more time at home would mean like I have clearly more time to clean and be organized and maybe tackle some projects. But the opposite kind of happened for my house. Seems to have blown up and for a week there I was really struggling to get it under control. We're in a much better position now because I did a lot of cleaning, a lot of organizing, but I kind of realized that like more time at home doesn't mean a cleaner house cause you're living in it more so it actually means more mess.

Cara Newhart (03:51):
And if you don't have areas that you've really set up to function well and kind of be able to handle that, then like you might be at capacity with clutter or junk or cleaning or whatever it is. So if you're feeling down about your house, like you're feeling like other people are fielding this really well and they're organized and they have color coded calendars and they seem to be thriving in your houses exploded or it's a wreck. First of all, know that that's okay. That's a normal thing that a lot of us are going through, but also understand that like there's no pressure to dive in and clean your house and make it perfect. But what I want you to do is use this as a learning process to learn more about what's not working and kind of like a stress test for your house, like a diagnostic situation where you can analyze things and be like, what areas, clearly you need attention.

Cara Newhart (04:41):
What areas are overwhelming me even more than they usually do. And then that once you understand kind of the problem, I think it's easier to motivate yourself to tackle it versus just looking everywhere. There's mess everywhere. You're overwhelmed, you don't know where to start. So think about this, write things down, maybe journal if you're really into journaling, that could be a good option, but maybe just make some notes as we go through this episode of things that resonate with you or areas of your house where you feel like some of these things ring true or the ideas you have about making it better. So I'm going to dive into six different questions to ask yourself and kind of give you tips along the way of some things you can implement and just ways to think about your spaces when you are kind of trying to rework them amidst the chaos.

Cara Newhart (05:28):
Okay. So the first question I want you to ask yourself about your house is where are you spending most of your time? Is it in your bed? Is it on your couch? Is it the kitchen table, the kitchen bar? Where do you find yourself spending the most time as your home? So let's talk about why this is the place to start. When I did the episode all about like my design process start to finish, we talked about like how you want to start in your most used areas, like the faces that you are in the most and then you want to focus on creating functionality for the activities that you're doing most in that space. So this is a great strategy for design in general because if you have just a little bit of time to focus on your house or you only have a little bit of money to spend, the things you do the most are the areas you want to focus on and work on.

Cara Newhart (06:18):
Optimizing those first. So in terms of our situation right now where you're spending the most of your time, once you've identified that place, I want you to ask yourself, is there something that you could add or subtract from this space to make it function better? So just to kind of give you an example, I found myself using the chair in my master bedroom more than I've ever sat in it ever. Like I'm there every day. And the funny thing about this is it is the chair. And what I mean by this is it is the place to pile things when they are in purgatory. Like clothing is not clean, but it's not dirty. Welcome to the chair. I just pile things up in this chair because it's not dirty enough where I'm going to put it in the hamper. But it's not clean enough or I'm going to hang it up so I'm just gonna put it on this chair and maybe wear it within the next week or so.

Cara Newhart (07:10):
But anyway, after I showed my chaotic house to all of you on Instagram stories, I then proceeded to actually clean my master bedroom cause it was one of the spaces giving me the most anxiety. I found myself in bed watching like YouTube fitness videos every day. And so I realized like this space was stressing me out and was not a place I could wind down or relax. So I cleaned our room, cannot say the same for all the other areas of the house, but once I had it clean and this chair was cleared off, now I'm finding myself sitting in it all the time. Like whenever I do editing on my Instagram stories or a photo or I'm texting people or I'm calling people or FaceTiming to like stay connected, I find myself sitting in this chair because it's by a really pretty window with natural light.

Cara Newhart (07:55):
It's very comfortable. It's very lounge-y. And since I've started using it, I'm realizing like there are some things I could do to make it better. Like it needs a side table, it needs the lamp, it needs probably a cozy blanket. So what is your version of this in your house? What's the space you've been using more maybe that you didn't expect to be using or maybe that just you're finding yourself there all the time. And what is something you can add, whether you know side table, lamp, blanket, whatever it is or subtract, you know, what's in the way, what is there that doesn't need to be there? That's kind of like hindering the space from being fully functional. What can you add or subtract to make this space work better for you? Okay. Question number two is what areas of your house feel underused or overlooked?

Cara Newhart (08:41):
So what areas are you not spending time in or maybe even like avoiding altogether? So I want you to like identify that area or maybe multiple areas and ask yourself why are you not spending time in spaces? Maybe they feel dull and drab. Maybe they're a drop zone that doesn't have a clear function or maybe they're just a source of stress, like something you just want to close the door on. A nor and pretend is not there. So once you've identified that space and maybe kind of explored why you're avoiding it, let's ask ourselves, how could you transform these spaces to make them work better for you? So both practical function and decor, like aesthetics, maybe practical means like you need more storage and organization. You need some things to leave this space. You need to add shelves or add baskets or find a way to make it functionally work better.

Cara Newhart (09:35):
And then decor. Obviously we can't just like rum around home goods and buy everything we want. So shop your house first things first, maybe find some pieces that aren't being used or aren't really in the space you'd like them to be and try to use what you have first. And then you could also dive into some inexpensive DIY projects. Um, for inspo, I know there's a ton of us in the home and DIY space, influencers, bloggers that are creating content around projects that use what you already have at home, um, and encouraging you guys to make it home and dive into projects with what you have. But you can also check Pinterest for really simple DIY eyes that are quick but really, really chic. I know that me and seven of my DIY friends have a hashtag called one hour DIY where we really focus on those types of projects that are just quick, easy, look gorgeous, don't require a lot of materials and are very simple to knock out.

Cara Newhart (10:32):
So dive into some of those for inspo. What could you make and maybe like give yourself a creative outlet as you're redoing the space and make it cute. It doesn't have to just be organizing and cleaning and the not so fun stuff. It can be like making it work and making it cute. And then there's that sense of like pride and accomplishment when you transform this space. That was such a source of stress and now it's like pretty and beautiful and serves a purpose. So that's kind of like strategy number two is find those areas that are underused, overlooked and focus on making them work for you. Okay. Question number three to ask yourself about your spaces is where is clutter piling up? So wherever there's areas that are clearly just kind of accumulating clutter as the staying at home situation has gone on, those areas likely need a good purge, likely need things to obviously be put away and organized, but probably you need to get rid of stuff if stuff is just accumulating in one certain spot.

Cara Newhart (11:32):
Maybe it's a situation of too much stuff and maybe you just need to make that space function better. So my practical tip for this is to prep and organize your donations even if you can't drop them off. Now some donation based organizations are still accepting donations, but some aren't because they've been forced to close or required to close. So I know [email protected] slash locator and you can find your closest store and call around to see if they're accepting drop-offs. I think some of them are doing like contactless drop-offs. Some of them are totally closed, so make sure you like call ahead or plan ahead, but even if you can't drop stuff off, even if you're really working on staying home and you're in an area that's been hit really hard, you can still prep and organize your donations and put them like in a pile in your garage where all you have to do is put those boxes in your car and take them.

Cara Newhart (12:26):
If you're like me, you might've been doing this already as you prepare your donations, like I'm going to donate this box to Goodwill, but first I want to drive around with it in the back of my car for four months. So if that's a habit, then this maybe isn't even new to you that you can't or won't donate right away. But identify those areas where they seem to be more cluttered than usual and seems to be like your drop zones, your hot zones for clutter to just accumulate. Number four is what are you struggling to keep clean? So whether this means like messy mess doing dishes or areas where you're just struggling to kind of sort through that stuff. These areas need systems for moving things along in organization. So often when you're struggling to keep something clean, it's because you haven't really developed a sustainable process that fits in your lifestyle where you can quickly and easily get through these areas of mess.

Cara Newhart (13:24):
I know we talked a lot about this with Becky. Um, the clean mama on episodes like 27 and 28 just about like the approach where if you have a process that you can quickly and easily chip away at stuff every day, it's gonna make it a lot easier to keep things clean versus letting things pile up. So if there's areas that you're struggling to keep clean, your strategy is that you're going to rethink how your like system works for cleaning this area. Maybe you need to streamline it. Maybe you need to, I don't know, just make things easier. Make your cleaning supplies more accessible, add additional organization. So it's very clear where things go versus just having to organize on the fly and try to make it make sense. So between decluttering things and then kind of rethinking your process that fits in your life.

Cara Newhart (14:15):
This can really help you get on track. And maybe it's like a totally new scenario where clutter's piling up and you're struggling to keep something clean. Like for me it's been um, receiving all the packages cause we're like really staying home, not going anywhere, trying to order as much as we can online now I need like a package area to receive packages. So I added like this little console table to our entryway where when things arrive I can put them there till I'm ready to like deal with them and break down the boxes and all of that. And then I also use that as a place to like put boxes when I, they need to go out to the recycling. But I'm not gonna walk every single one. Like, I'm going to wait until I have a few. So maybe there's a new situation that's come up where you need to kind of create a solution for clutter or for cleaning.

Cara Newhart (15:01):
So that's kind of three and four how they work in tandem. Like what can we declutter, what can we create processes for to make our home function better for us? Number five I think is really, really key and it's something that maybe you haven't thought about. So it's what temporary shifts can you create in your spaces to help them serve you as we stay home, work from home, school at home, et cetera. The reality here is we're not just staying home more, but there's a lot of activities that we normally are doing elsewhere that are kind of now located in our home. So whether that is that you're working from home, um, whether it's that you are trying to teach your kids and do school at home, um, whatever that looks like, there's something, there's a shift that's happened in your life and let's identify what that is and let's kind of rework our spaces temporarily to make sure that they're working for us in this season.

Cara Newhart (15:55):
So that could be rearranging furniture. Maybe the table needs to go a different direction or you need to put some Leafs in so everyone can sit together. Or maybe it's re-purposing storage. Maybe there's stuff you could stow away in deeper storage, like a backpacks or something that we're not using everyday anymore. And we could kind of make that storage function better for what we're now doing every day. And I think the biggest piece of this is creating new stations. So like a workstation, a school station, maybe even like a wipe down zone for disinfecting packages and groceries. There's new functionality that we need in our spaces, even if it's temporary. And even if it's something we don't want to like invest money in making it a thing. Like you're probably not going to buy all the kids' desks and invest in like a chalkboard unless you've somehow decided to homeschool your children after this process.

Cara Newhart (16:49):
Many of us are just respecting their teachers so much more and homeschooling is even further from what we thought we'd ever be doing. But what can you rearrange in your house? How can you create these stations in these new zones with what you already have to better help your house function in this phase? It's not permanent, it's just what you need right now. And I think creating those areas and really thinking through what you need right now and how you can use your house to create that for you and your family and have your house serve you in that way is going to kind of help maybe shift your mindset a little bit and make things easier cause things will be more within reach. You'll have dedicated places for doing things instead of this just like scrambling mentality that I feel like I've really been in of not wanting to make these changes cause I'm like I don't want this to last long.

Cara Newhart (17:40):
So making a temporary zone feels in some way that I'm like acknowledging that it's going to be awhile. Um, when really we just don't know. And I think even if it's one week or even if it's months, I think we deserve to have spaces that are supporting us through this time. And so don't be afraid to make changes. Don't function in chaos and kind of a reactively. Don't be afraid to be intentional about this and think through it. Move things around and use pieces differently than you normally would. And strategy number six is how can you prep your outdoor spaces to give you an extra living space? So this is something that I found is really, really helping me, is really supporting my mental health. We've been blessed with decent weather here in Houston and so we've found ourselves using our outdoor space a lot.

Cara Newhart (18:30):
Um, we're actually side story building a pool and patio that has kind of gone on through this process because they are still allowed to work, uh, being in construction in, they're doing it totally safely, but we have kind of been out of a backyard for a while. It's been kind of a big hole. And so they finally have the patio in. We have the pool like almost done. And so we've been doing like fires, um, on our patio all sitting together, hanging out outside. And it just kind of occurred to me that like this is so supportive of what I needed in this phase. I needed an area, like another living space to change things up. So I don't feel like I'm cooped up inside. Um, it can help everyone spread out. It could be a place where you go take phone calls if your children are yelling in the house.

Cara Newhart (19:15):
Um, and just being in nature is good for you. There's something about it that's grounding and energizing and relaxing. And so if you can prep your outdoor space or kind of open it up for spring and now that's something a lot of us are going to be doing anyway in these coming months as temperatures change and we get ready for summer. Um, but maybe if you're experiencing nice weather, you could get on that now and just give yourself an extra space to spill over into and to use. Um, as a family because I think I can go a long, long, long way right now having just one more place to be so you're not just sitting in your bed or on the couch 24, seven. So I hope these strategies were helpful. I hope they kind of got your creative juices flowing, gave you some ideas for helping to optimize your space in this season and add that functionality and really make your home work for you.

Cara Newhart (20:06):
Because remember your house is not a museum. It's not a stagnant situation that you've set it and forget it and your decor is done. It's something that's ebbing and flowing and changing with your lifestyle and your tastes and your needs of you and your family. And so make it work for you and be intentional. Give some thoughts to what your family needs in this season and then create that in your space even if it is temporary, even if it is not spending any money and just using what you already have, it's going to go. So, so far, if you have any tips that you want to share, I would absolutely love to hear them. You can do like a story on social media and tag make space pod and I will be stories of tips that you want to share for making your home, your Haven in the season.

Cara Newhart (20:53):
Or you can even call in with these tips in a question on the podcast hotline and that number is (720) 319-7438. I would love to hear from you, I would love for this to be a conversation that we as a community kind of dive into and help support each other and help come up with like innovative ways to make changes in our home. Um, cause I know that you guys are so creative, you're such full of good ideas and it's even more magical when we can all come together and bounce those off of each other. So I hope that these six strategies are really solid tips to get you started. But let's go from there. Share your tips with me, share tips with each other and let's make our homes a place that supports us and works for us in this season instead of a source of overwhelm in a place where we're feeling cooped up and restricted.

Cara Newhart (21:44):
Thank you guys so much for tuning in. If you want to keep the party going, follow me on social and never skip brunch. And you can also connect with the podcast at MakeSpace pod. Um, my personal favorite thing to do is Instagram stories over on, never skip brunch and I'm trying to put those up daily with humor or projects or little stuff that hopefully will inspire you. So if you want to connect there or through DM, I'm so happy to talk to you guys. Have the week you have know that it's okay. And I will talk to you guys next week.

OUTRO (22:24):
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never skip brunch by cara newhart

I'm Cara, the designer & Chief Creative Enthusiast behind Never Skip Brunch. I'm a color & prints obsessed DIY queen who's here to help you create a beautifully lived-in life through home design advice and chic DIY tutorials

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