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5 Easy Ways for Spoonies to Decorate Their Homes

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I’ve never been much of a decorator. I remember back in college a friend walked into my condo, scanned the bare walls and said, “I really like what you’ve done with the place.” I flashed a smile and said, “Thanks, I’m going for the institutional look.”

That look was my signature as I moved from one rental to the next during my 20s. At the time, decorating seemed like a waste of resources. My budget was limited and I was always exhausted at the end of my work day. And work was where I spent most of my time anyway. Arranging and fussing eye-catching retail displays, I should add. It was a little embarrassing that I couldn’t seem to make the effort with my own home.

I didn’t realize that in addition to the mental illness I’d been handling since my teens, I had an autoimmune disorder. The resulting exhaustion meant it was all I could manage to stay on top of the cleaning, and often that got set aside in favor of maintaining some semblance of a social life. Sometimes I was too busy to give my messy house any thought, but mostly I was too tired to care.


That changed when I became too sick to work. Suddenly, home was not a place I returned to; it was a place I sporadically left for appointments. After many months of staring at the disarray and general lack of warmth and accepting this as the status quo, I decided to give my space some cute accessories to cheer it up. It doesn’t change the fact that I don’t have the energy to give the tub the scrubbing it deserves, but overall, I have to confess decorating is pretty good for morale. Here are my top decor  recommendations for the chronically ill/homebound. If you know someone who is sick and want to cheer them up, consider surprising them with one of these ideas.

1. Throw blankets and a place to put them

Let’s start with the blanket. If you’ve been ill for any length of time, it’s pretty much a given that you have at least one. It provides you warmth, but does it provide you pleasure? How many hours do you spend under it on a given day? I think for the amount of work these things do, they should be cozy and delightful to look at. I usually have a couple on the couch at any given time. The drawback is they tend to look messy if I just leave them in a heap. Baskets with lids are the sneaky way to hide them, but storage ottomans are pretty swell too. No room for a basket? Not a problem. Another way to keep them neat and handy is to roll them and leave them at either end of the couch (I understand there are some days when rolling a blanket takes a spoon – heap days happen). Give your throw a five minute tumble in the dryer before snuggling up when you’re home alone and need a hug.

2. Tray

For something I considered non-essential, the tray is a pretty functional decor item. On days when you’re stuck in bed they’re the perfect vessel for essentials: book, beverage, tissue, pills. Plus, there are so many styles to choose from. You could go for a pallet tray, silver, carved wood, mirrored. Spoons permitting, you can get creative here. Just check Pinterest for ideas about how to up-cycle one from an old cutting board, or have fun chalk-painting an old silver piece that’s tarnished beyond redemption. I’m planning to try a DIY tiered cake pan tray for all my pills and potions. A lazy susan would also work well for this purpose.

3. Cheerful mug/dishes (if applicable)

I am lucky I can still eat. I never used to think about this, but I consider it often now. Even though my diet is restricted, I can still chew and swallow my food. If you are part of the chewing and swallowing crowd, I urge you to celebrate your meals with dinnerware that makes you happy. You don’t need to buy a whole set. If you can, get to a thrift store, or find someone to take you or go on your behalf, pick up a couple fancy plates, and use them every day. If you drink meal supplements, follow the example of Lisa Walters and light a couple candles and serve it on a lovely plate. My favorite mug is a beautiful porcelain one from Goodwill that set met back 50 cents. I use it every morning to remind myself that any day I can eat is a good day for good dishes.

4. Silk flowers/centerpiece

You don’t have to choose flowers. You just need something lovely to look at (and to distract you from the layer of dust accumulating on the bookshelf and the mounting pile of laundry). If you’re chronically ill, you’re probably not able to keep up with all the household chores. For me, having a centerpiece on the dresser and one on the coffee table is sort of like having an altar of loveliness in a wasteland. It’s the place where I return my focus to when I look at the floor and see that it needs to be vacuumed but don’t have any spoons left to do it. The centerpiece can be anything that makes you happy, and it’s an easy thing to switch around. You can put succulents in a old teapot and place it on a trivet or put flowers in a mason jar. Fresh flowers are great if you’re up to changing the water and switching them out, but silk ones are awesome too. A quick blast with the hair dryer is all it takes to keep the dust at bay. Shells are awesome if you like the beach, and are a great choice if you like something to pick up and feel. Quilted table toppers or colorful runners make great bases for a centerpiece.

5. Essential oil diffuser/candles

I don’t know anything about the healing properties of essential oils, but I know I’m happier when my home smells nice. Having a cat and not having everything smell like him is a challenge. I tend to avoid products with synthetic fragrance, but I’m happy to report I haven’t had problems with headaches from using essential oils. I can’t guarantee you will enjoy them as much as I do, but I hope so. If you’re not sensitive to fragrances, scented candles and incense are great options to liven up your home. Things may look untidy, but when you close your eyes it will smell lovely.

You’ll never see my house in a magazine and I won’t be throwing a dinner party any time soon, but it’s not a bad place to be a spoonie.

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Thinkstock photo via kiboka.

Originally published: June 22, 2017
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