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Featured in the April 2021 issue

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Whether you’re 60 years old like Lincolnshire Life or have enjoyed 216 years, like Oldrids & Downtown, 2020 was a year like no other. With the roadmap out of lockdown in place, we’re now taking time to reflect on what we have learned throughout this experience, and how it has made us look at our own space.

One thing we know for certain: creating a sanctuary where we can escape the noise of the outside world has become of utmost importance. Just as our way of living has shifted, so too has the meaning of ‘home’.

From dining room office to garden shed, every corner of our homes and gardens has had to be adapted to suit our new way of life.

During the last 12 months, we’ve scrambled to turn our living areas into workspaces and classrooms, with more than a third of the UK population still remote working.

Currently the lines between work and home are more blurred than ever and, as a result, the design and functionality of our home has become more important than ever. From spare bedrooms being transformed into home offices, to dining tables doubling up as desks, kitchen stools becoming work chairs or even giving up part of our living rooms, we’ve had to quickly get used to working from home.

And while this seismic shift has led to many yearning for a more flexible lifestyle, it’s clear that the nation is desperate to reclaim their homes in the hope of creating more of a work/life balance.

Investing in comfort
With a clear move away from fast-furniture, throwaway products and trend-led designs, we’re becoming ever more discerning when it comes to what we choose to bring into our homes.

Spending more time at home has encouraged Brits to splurge on where they live, with redecorating indoors and updating outdoor spaces being the top choices for people looking to invest in their homes. Lockdown has also shaped our interior choices: comfort has proven to be a key factor, with creating a sense of relaxation at home now taking priority, and many of us choosing soothing, neutral paint shades to reclaim our homes as a calming environment. Colour is known to play a huge role in helping to boost our mood and general wellbeing; subtle, neutral tones – often colours inspired by the natural world – are perfect for creating balance and harmony.

2020 has also highlighted how important where we live has become for our mental health. Nearly one in two of us say that home is where we feel happiest, and four in ten feel that our outdoor spaces have given us a sense of escape.

Our outdoor sanctuary
Sowing a seed or overhauling an overgrown garden was a balm to the pain of lockdown, offering the hope of some food that did not have to come from an overcrowded, understocked supermarket, and the chance to improve and beautify the small pockets of greenery around us.

Gardening was listed as the second most popular lockdown activity that people planned to do after watching TV, ahead of cooking, reading and exercising. Gardening was happening at home and nowhere else last spring, and so the online rush began: for information and advice, as well as seeds and compost.

The physical and mental health benefits of getting our hands in the soil ran through so many conversations about gardening during lockdown, whether people were looking for things to fill their time while on furlough or finding ways of coping with a demanding job.

A survey by the gardening charity Thrive found that 43 per cent of people agreed with the statement “gardening helps my mental health”, while 36 per cent agreed that “gardening keeps me fit and healthy”.

Will this shift towards gardening last or is it a short-lived phenomenon sparked by unique circumstances? The visitors to Downtown Garden Centre seem to be coming back, and back, and back. They really want to know how to do things properly. They are really invested; their plans started taking shape in 2020 and now, in 2021, their gardens continue to develop and it’s a fascinating, enjoyable process and means something to them. Once you grow a spud, you’ll never stop!

The ultimate impact of Covid-19 can only be guessed at. But with gardening entering what the RHS calls a new “golden age”, the future of horticulture is now being cultivated by this enthusiastic influx of new gardeners.

Our homes and gardens have become ever more important to us over the last 12 months. We are investing more, taking a more considered approach to what we buy and are now prioritising how our spaces make us feel, what will stand the test of time, and what will really help create a sense of sanctuary.

Looking to create a sanctuary in your indoor and outdoor space? Visit Downtown Garden Centre for a huge choice of plants, buildings and accessories to make your garden beautiful and, in April, Downtown Grantham and Downtown Boston will re-open with the Biggest Ever Sale! so finding your perfect sofa, stylish soft furnishings and the comfiest bed is now even easier.

Downtown Grantham & Downtown Garden Centre, Gonerby Junction, A1 Grantham NG32 2AB, www.oldrids.co.uk

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