For those of us who have spent the past year at home, the experience has put us into one of two categories: those who crave anything but alone time and those who want nothing more than their personal space. Personally, I’ve fallen into the latter category, a discovery which led me to move out of a four-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with roommates and into a studio alone—a move that would’ve likely happened way later in my New York City-based life had the world carried on sans a devastating virus.
No matter which camp you fall into, though, having your own space has become more important than ever before. Maybe you have a family or live with a significant other: You’ve had to figure out where each of you can work from home or take virtual classes. Carving out space for those activities has been crucial. But separate from that, having your own space to unwind—even if it’s just to sit with your own thoughts, perhaps on a solo staycation if you can’t get it at home—feels a bit more precious now that we’re more than a year into the pandemic.
Since we do almost everything in our homes now, designer Rachel Cannon stresses the importance of having what she calls a quiet room, where you can have time off from having to be on. “For an introvert, a ‘quiet room’ is not just a room where there is no sound,” she tells House Beautiful. “A quiet room is a sanctuary from the stimulation and overwhelm that we encounter every day, where we can go and unwind, revive our energy, and give our brains and our senses a break.”
And while the designer (a self-proclaimed introvert) has typically imagined this as a concept for introverts, the quiet room is now holding more general appeal: “2020 introduced the entire world to the work-from-home culture, which seemed great at first, but has perhaps created the most significant blurred boundary in a decade,” she explains. “No separation between work and home has pushed us even further into a work-all-the-time mindset!”
Setting boundaries by designing a physical space where you’re inaccessible by work, friends, and even family can help ease restlessness and anxiety. “It is not selfish to ask for some quiet time, and the best way to do that is to create that room in your home where everyone knows it’s always a ‘do not disturb’ situation,” Cannon says.
For me, the pandemic enforced the inevitable: I likely won’t go back to thinking of an apartment as simply a place to get a good night’s rest, rather as an oasis to seek comfort in 24/7. I crave a quiet room in the form of an entire living space. No matter what form your own sanctuary takes—whether it’s your whole home or the space you have to work with—there’s no shame in wanting that alone time.
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