We are very much home-bound these days. It seems that modern culture does not orient towards home, but rather having fun outside of one’s home. To a lot of people, home is a spring board to bounce off from. But the pandemic came and changed lots of us. Home are now the center of many people’s lives. I also never felt so compelled to cultivate a nice atmosphere at home. After all, only a nice atmosphere at home can foster a good attitude for life, do you agree?
After refinishing the hardwood floor and trims in our main floor living space, I got into a nesting mode. I spent every weekend cleaning, organizing, and furnishing. It felt particularly important now the days are shorter and we spend more time inside the house. We made quite a few small changes to the living space, some small upgrades you might say. Let us take a look together, shall we?
Creating a front entry
If you have been to our house, you would know that we go in and out the house through the garage. 99% of the time, the front door is just a glorified watchtower for our dogs. But this has changed since Slav installed a keyless lock on the front door:
I like how the stainless steel hardware looks on a white door:
It turns out that all it required for us to utilize the front door is being able to open it without a key. OMG, I felt like such a sluggard…Anyway, we now use the front door everyday. Inevitably, shoes and handbag started to accumulate here:
We wanted to add some storage for this space, and this bench in IKEA looked like a perfect solution:
We actually went to our local IKEA to purchase it. This was the first time we visited IKEA in two years. Unfortunately, it eas out of stock in our local IKEA even though the website said otherwise. Let me tell you, the disruption of IKEA’s supply chain is real. On top of that, the shortage of workers made the customer service so terrible. After driving 60 miles, we still had to pay $6 to have it shipped to a local pick up place. But at least we were able to see it in person before pulling the trigger.
Such a small bench, fits perfectly in the space underneath the coat hooks.
It is big enough to hold our daily shoes. I like that it provides a surface to put down my backpack and lunch box before taking off my shoes.
This drop zone is at a corner of Slav’s office, just off the front door.
This is what this corner looked like before getting the bench. The (also IKEA) rolling cart provided some storage, but not big enough for shoes and backpacks.
Our beloved boot/glove dryer lives nearby. We use this boot dryer 24/7 during winter months for drying ski boots and gloves. I also use it to warm up our shoes and gloves in the mornings. There is always a pile of stuff next to it. I think this bench will be very helpful in holding all the wet gear.
To complete the front entry, I added door mats inside and outside of the front door. The tan door mat inside is from LL beans. We have another one of these in the kitchen which held up really well, so this is a returned purchase. The one outside with tree pattern is from IKEA:
Let us keep the front entry dry and dust free!
Organizing my desk
With more and more people working from home, our houses became not only the hub we recharge, but also the place we create. Slav and I each have an office on the main floor which we use often.
Next to his desk, this IKEA cabinet houses our printing supplies and stationary. It is a beautiful piece of furniture, which I envy. But it would be a overkill for my office.
There are all the stuff I keep around my desk. A small drawer would be nice.
I also could use a monitor stand.
We spotted this monitor stand in IKEA and decided to give it a try:
It took no assembly. The monitor sits on top, and my laptop can be stored underneath. The charging wires come out from the back. It is like someone designed this monitor stand just for me.
All the stationery fit into the drawer. I also like how the white/bamboo color pairs nicely with my desk.
This is how the computer corner looks now. Even Slav said it was “a nice setup”.
And the rest of the desk is clean!
New plant stand
I also picked up a new plant stand for my retreat room. A couple years ago, I got a three-tier plant stand from IKEA and have been happy with it.
This time, I got a similar one in different shape:
They match well when standing side by side. The new plant stand has a bigger capacity – I can now lift almost all of my plants off the floor:
A clean and organized plant corner for winter!
Adding comfort with a ceiling fan
Lifting the plants higher helps them to get more light. But winter can be tough for indoor plants also for the dry and still air in the house. I set a humidifier near the plant stands, but still wanted to more air movement. After discussing with Slav, we decided to replace the ceiling light with a ceiling fan:
This low-profile Hunter ceiling fan works well with our low ceiling (92 inches). It is apparently very popular – we wanted the white color and it was sold out everywhere locally, including in Home Depot and Lowe’s. We eventually got ours off Amazon.
It comes with a remote for turning on and off the light as well as adjusting fan speed. It is fairly quite and the lower settings provides nice air movement without bringing chills. Since it was installed, I have been keeping it on the lowest fan speed during the day, and I think it helps to unify the temperature and humidity in this room.
IKEA is famous for its small kitchen gadgets. It is almost impossible to walk away without taking any home. This time, I picked up this small tea infuser. We both drink loose-leaf teas, and the old tea infuser we have, the “duckling”, is too small for the fruit/flower tea Slav loves.
The IKEA infuser easily holds a whole tablespoon of tea leaves, which is perfect for brewing fruit tea.
I also like the long handle design for it to sit inside all the drinkware.
Including Slav’s favorite water glasses. It is an IKEA favorite for only 79 cents.
I prepared cold-brew tea with it and it was a success. Slav likes cold tea. Before, I always had to brew hot tea for him, then wait for it to cool down. Now I can simply take two teaspoons of Slav’s favorite fruit tea into the infuser, submerge it into room-temperature water for 15 minutes, then top it off with ice cubes.
The duckling tea infuser now becomes my dedicated “Sichuan pepper infuser”. I cook with Sichuan pepper often. Slav enjoys its aroma, but hates to bite into them directly. With the help from the infuser, I can no longer need to pick every these pepper out before serving.
Another small gadget I got for myself is this little milk frother. I start my morning by a cup of coffee. I am not picky about the coffee beans – anything freshly-ground beans brewed with a moka pot will do. But I do crave a good latte once a while. This milk frother allows me to have a quick latte with little effort and almost nothing to clean after. It is really a game changer.
The soft things
The last thing we picked up in IKEA was a king comforter for our bed. Our old one has been with us for longer I am willing to admit, and it stopped holding its warmth. We selected this “slightly warm” comforter from IKEA.
I use it with our beloved flannel bedding. So far, we like its weight and breathability.
It came in this fabric packaging in good quality. I kept it for storing extra blankets in the guest room.
With the new comforter we no longer need our old comforter and the king size flannel blanket. I washed them and sent them to a local homeless shelter along with some lightly-used winter clothes. Colorado winter is harsh. While we are fortunate to stay inside, we wish the same to all the unfortunate people that are force to camp out. Slav told me about an old Christmas tradition in Poland, which is to set an extra plate/seat on the dinner table. It is for a homeless or unexpected traveler who shows up at the door. But then he added “however in Poland, there is no homeless people… Everyone is taken care of.” This is certainly not the case in our country. People here do not have minimal security for life, and anyone, even people like us can become homeless one day because of illness, investment mistakes, and other misfortune. I hope our donation could help at least one person stay warm this winter, and I surely hope that the culture in this country could change for everyone to live without fear of losing their homes!
Have you been preparing your home for winter?