Not meeting friends/family was the biggest Lockdown challenge in small homes

Not meeting friends/family was the biggest Lockdown challenge in small homes

Small Space Living

We consulted over 200 UK citizens who live in a small home to research the challenges of Lockdown living. They shared their insights to assist others in getting through this difficult time. I live in a small flat in London and have been implementing some of these strategies.

It has been a difficult year for people living in small spaces. With the government introducing local and national Lockdowns people’s access to freedom of movement, to friends or family, bars and restaurants have been greatly reduced and for those living in small spaces, loneliness, discomfort and even despair have become regular companions.

Human interaction relieves the stress

Research from the 200 respondents to our consultation, showed that not being able to meet friends/family was the most difficult element of Lockdown for most (38% of respondents).

It may be a digital world, but we still have stone age social skills. Face-to-face interaction helps us cope with stress, and a physical handshake or hug (post-Coronavirus) makes us feel appreciated.

The advice according to Hot Tea customers is to engage more with neighbours. It doesn’t require travel and is easy to start a conversation because you have a shared experience during Lockdown.

De-clutter your small home

One of the primary aims of people living in a small space is to make it seem bigger. Hot Tea’s customers described how clutter can make a space seem smaller and affect the enjoyment of their home. They recommended taking unnecessary items to charity shops, the local recycling centre or selling them online.

Online shopping has boomed during the pandemic. The dopamine hit we get from retail therapy gives short-term satisfaction, but the result is we buy too much ‘stuff’ – which results in more clutter.

That door needs painting

Spending more time in a small space can highlight all those DIY chores that need doing. Redecorating is not only rewarding but is also a positive step towards making your home seem bigger and more comfortable — essential when you are forced to stay indoors.

We are all guilty of spending too much time looking at a screen (you’re doing it now). Decorating takes you away from the screen and is a physical exercise. Much better for mind and body and with a satisfying end result.

There are several ways to improve a small home. Hot Tea’s customers suggested introducing more natural light, buying multi-function furniture to increase floor space and clever use of colour. The full list of their suggestions is available in a blog article titled ‘How to make a small home look bigger; 15 tips’.

The walls are closing in

Our survey showed ‘small home lockdown’ affected people living alone more than those living with family/friends. While all other results remained the same, the lack of space was more of a problem for people living alone; 26% versus 22%.

Living alone during Lockdown will accentuate the feeling of loneliness. Hot Tea’s customers again recommended engaging with neighbours (who may have the same feelings) but also to try to act before Lockdowns are enforced by moving in temporarily with friends or family.

Mental health can suffer when you are living in a small space — especially if that space does not include a garden or outdoor area. It’s easy to become agoraphobic and fear going outside, especially if you are concerned about catching the virus.

Hot Tea’s customers suggested exercising indoors as a starting point and taking that exercise outside when ready. Even brief exercise can release endorphins (happy chemicals) in your brain. More details are in our blog article ‘Mental health and living in a small space’.

The truth is that small home living, under normal circumstances can be liberating and fun, but during Lockdown it definitely is a bit more challenging. Hopefully, soon we can get back to travelling some distance to meet friends/family in a pub or restaurant, then returning to our beautifully decorated and comfortable small home 🙂

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris

Author: Graham Smith

Graham is the Founder of Hot Tea Workshop. He lives in a small London flat with limited space. His need for multi-purpose furniture was the inspiration for the London Table and sparked his interest in small space living and tiny homes.