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5 Design Therapy Tips to Create Zen Environments While in Quarantine

Suddenly our homes have become the place we spend all of our time. Particularly if that means you are now living and working in a small apartment, life has probably started to feel quite cramped. As a licensed psychotherapist, I have witnessed first hand the incredible effect that our surroundings can have on our emotions, particularly during times like this, where stress levels are very high. So I asked Rinat Tahar, a New York City-based interior designer and founder of Tahar Decor, to share some of her tips to help you make the most of your space during the quarantine.

I have personally worked with Rinat, who is a dear friend, in the past as I have often used my bedroom as a home office space. She helped me make changes on a very tight budget and gave me great ideas for maximizing space, reducing clutter, and creating the comfortable environment I need to work and also relax. Here are her tips to help you get started.

TIP # 1: Replace your old bedding.

Do you remember the feeling you had when you first purchased sheets, washed them, and placed them on your bed? The freshness of something new, the smell, and the feeling of softness can breathe new life into your bedroom. Even if you can’t afford the most luxurious, expensive, high-thread-count sheets, you will benefit mentally from new bedding. Especially in a time where we are bombarded with thoughts of sickness and germs, fresh sheets can be a real game-changer.

It’s also important to make a point to make your bed every morning to give you a sense of normalization and order. If you can’t purchase new sheets, change them often. Changing your sheets gives you a sense of renewal. Doing this will help you switch your mood from negative to positive. Rinat promises it’s an instant mood booster, so how about we give it a try and report back to her! She was kind enough to share a photo with us of a bedroom she designed @Tahardecor.

TIP # 2: Do that special accent wall.

Painting can be difficult and very messy work, but according to Rinat, you don't have to paint your whole apartment. Instead, she suggests selecting one small wall that you can add a pop of color to. This can be done on a budget, and if you have children, you can get them involved and make this into a fun family activity. There are tons of online resources to guide you in purchasing the right supplies and teaching you techniques if you’ve never painted a wall yourself before. Most importantly, pick a color that you love and that will bring calmness and happiness to your space. This can upgrade your space and make you feel better!

TIP # 3: Buy fresh flowers and scented candles.

These are small items that make a big difference. Rinat says that even if you don't want to leave your house or can’t find fresh flowers, you can purchase artificial or dried flowers. Flowers and candles are design elements that connect you to your senses and give you a relaxed feeling. With both, you will visually uplift your room, provide your space with extra light, and breathe a sense of new life into a space that may feel stale or cramped.

Even better, candles and flowers set a relaxing atmosphere and environment. In fact, I use this same design tip to help my clients practice mindfulness, as it helps to engage their senses, which will most likely elicit positive feelings. This candle is one of Rinat’s favorites: Maison Louis Marie No.09 Vallée de Farney Candle.

TIP # 4: Shop in your home.

Most people have so many things that they don't really know how to display. Rinat explains, “There is no task unworthy, too simple, or complex. You can take a simple chair in one room and allow it to get lost in the room, or decide to let that one chair be dignified. The deciding factor is our vision.”

As an example, while you organize your bookcases, you can actually style them in a different way and use objects that may be stuck in a drawer for decorations. Rinat shared that while organizing her apartment, she came across greeting cards that she purchased about a year ago while pregnant. She took them and started writing her beautiful daughter, Alma, love letters that she will share with her one day and framed them for display in the meantime. Through these letters, Alma will get to learn what it felt like to be quarantined in the house and how grateful her mother feels to have her daughter as a driving factor to be strong.

TIP #5: Make your own artwork.

Now that you have more time at home, it is the perfect time to go through old family photos and pick some of your most favorite that connect you with your loved ones whom you may be missing. Photos can help you feel close to them during this time of physical distancing. You can choose photos of things you love, places you would like to go, and people you love and miss. If you are artistically inclined, you can make your own art to frame.

I hope that reading this gave you some ideas to give your space a facelift and create a more pleasant atmosphere to feel comfort and calm in this trying time.

Tahar Decor was founded in 2004 and is based in New York City with projects sprinkled throughout the US and Israel. Rinat is a creative who believes that “design and style come deep from within and as a result of pure passion.” Rinat prides herself on her attention to detail and helping her clients create a space that fits their style that they enjoy. Rinat’s work is featured in leading design and lifestyle publications including Open House. More on her site at

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