Design & Home

Everyone Is Stuck Inside, So Obviously We’re All Redecorating Our Homes

Now is the time for DIYers to tackle extravagant statement walls, restyle bookshelves, and create the perfect Zoom background.

Photograph courtesy of Morgan Scarboro.
Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

Washingtonian is keeping you up to date on the coronavirus around DC.

For most, sitting indoors all day leads to becoming the worst versions of ourselves, aka couch dwellers awash in dry shampoo with an exterior permanently clad in stretchy fabric.

But for the DIY-inclined, this is the opportunity they’ve been waiting for, the moment to turn their apartments and homes into the sets of their own HGTV shows. As the stay-at-home orders drag on, the design-savvy and project-oriented—whether prompted by stir-craziness or a plethora of time—are completely redoing their homes.

Liz Malm, 30, is always doing projects around the house, or, in her words, “I drive my boyfriend kind of crazy.” But the government affairs employee is using this time to amp up her already strong interior design game by redoing the couple’s H Street one-bedroom. “I was like, ‘I have literally nothing to do,'” says Malm of her new projects. “I’m sick of doing puzzles.”

So instead of 500-piece jigsaws, Malm has painted the bathroom, created a new sitting area in the couple’s bedroom, ordered a standing planter for an in-home herb garden, and painted a faux-arch on the dining room wall. “That one was brought on by me staring at that corner and hating it all day,” she says. “I was sick of my dining room, and was like ‘Well, let’s do something radical I would never do if I wasn’t here all the time.'”

Malm also purchased and assembled a desk for her at-home work station. But when deciding where she should place said desk, Malm prioritized which background would look best for her Zoom calls, as one does in 2020. “People are always looking in the background of your house,” she says of her work meetings, which is why she placed her desk across from the statement wall in the couple’s bedroom (outfitted, of course, in a very Insta-friendly patterned wallpaper).

Morgan Scarboro, 26, had the same thought process when re-doing the Adams Morgan spot she shares with her boyfriend—what background would look the best for online office meetings? “We use Google Hangouts at work, so I don’t have the luxury of using a virtual background,” says Scarboro, who works with a lot of folks in larger Virginia homes with dedicated studies and home offices. “I can’t necessarily have that in my DC apartment,” she says, “but I’d like to at least make [my set-up] nicer.”

Photograph courtesy of Morgan Scarboro.

So she rearranged her desk to face a corner with a bookshelf, which she restyled, and placed a small side table in the background with a lamp and a painting. In the past weeks, Scarboro has also rearranged the bedroom, and she was ordering a hanging planter on Etsy when we talked. “The boredom was the kick in the butt I needed to rearrange everything,” she says. “It’s kind of like, ‘Okay, what can I do now? I’ve read these books and watched all of Tiger King and Love Is Blind.'”

Photograph courtesy of Morgan Scarboro.

And Scarboro has plans to keep rearranging her home—if she can get her live-in pandemic partner on board, that is. “It’s not his most favorite thing when he walks into a room and it’s completely different,” she says of her boyfriend. “I have to pick my battles on that front.”

While some DIYers are driven by boredom to re-do their homes, others have been meaning to do these things for a while, but life—you know, that thing where you leave your house and see other people and put on actual clothes—has derailed those ambitions. But now, none of us have lives!

LeKisha Jordan, 32, works for the DC Council, meaning she usually leaves her Southeast home around 7:15 AM to start her commute. She gets home around 6 PM, at which point it’s time to make dinner and put her daughter to bed and then get ready to do it all over again. And then the weekends are dedicated to spending time with friends and family.

Photograph courtesy of LeKisha Jordan.
Photograph courtesy of LeKisha Jordan.

So she’s taking advantage of social isolation to do some long-awaited home projects. Jordan is currently turning a spare room into a dressing room-meets-extra closet, has tackled some landscaping in the backyard, and has restyled her living room, bedroom, dining room, and basement.

She’s also been taking virtual interior design classes via Skillshare, which have provided inspiration for her projects as well as creative solace while stuck at home. “The things that I’m doing around the house really bring me joy and a sense of peace,” says Jordan. “It’s just not that often that I get to focus on the things that I really enjoy.”

Photograph courtesy of Andrew Roby.

In the world of the coronavirus pandemic, toilet paper and hand sanitizer may be scarce, but time is one of the few common surpluses.

Take, for instance, Andrew Roby, a 38-year-old event planner who recently painted a statement wall in his National Harbor home. Placing the tape for the geometric design took 10 hours by itself, says Roby, a painstaking project akin to his personal Sistine Chapel. Would he have started this time-suck of an endeavor if it weren’t for a pandemic? Let’s put it this way: “It wouldn’t have been anytime soon,” he says.

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Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She previously was the editorial assistant at Walter Magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Adams Morgan.