Despite a strict rule for keeping work life separate from sleeping space, Paige Lewin has retreated to her bedroom during daytime hours. No, she hasn’t taken to her bed. She’s parked herself in a comfy chair by a window to conduct remote design consultations with clients.
“The boys have basically taken over the first floor for school and the basement for saxophone and karate,’’ said the founder of Reading-based design firm Tess & Ted Interiors. “The sax playing lasts three to four hours a day, and then there’s the endless bass drumbeat that travels through the house from my 14-year-old digital music producer.’’
In other families, it’s the kids who have jumped ship. Twelve-year-old Charlotte Schwartz, who lives on the West Coast with her parents, three siblings, six ducks, two cats, and a basketful of foster kittens, has all but moved into the family minivan. “She got driven out by the heat this week,’’ her mom, Kathleen Schwartz, a wedding photographer, reported. “My husband ran an extension cord through the window so she could have a fan.’’ He also pitched a tent in the backyard for their youngest.
Marisa Timmins Rowe, director of development at the Wellesley Free Library Foundation, ordered a garden shed to be used as a clubhouse by her sons, ages 8 and 9. Their modestly sized Natick home lacks a basement, and plans to add another story are on hold. “They can make a mess and be loud out there, and I won’t have to see or hear it,’’ Rowe said.
Hingham teen Syd Palese built his own man cave using wood collected from a neighbor and YouTube videos as a guide. “He just went out to a far corner of our yard and started clearing brush,’’ said his mother, swimwear designer Jill Palese, whose company, Call To Action, has been producing free gowns for local health care workers. “He said he didn’t want to waste all that time before online learning clicked in.’’
While children’s playhouses have long been backyard fixtures, at-home hideaways for adults are on the rise. Local designers say that in the past few years, they have been creating many more tranquil spaces. These include lounges for moms craving “me-time,’’ sitting areas designated as no-media zones, escape hatches for second-home owners weary of socializing with guests, and studios for hobbyists aiming to immerse themselves in everything from painting to bonsai tree training.
Kathryn Goldenoak of Arlington-based Spring Green Interior Design concentrates on the way rooms make us feel. “We live in a society in which we are constantly bombarded,’’ Goldenoak said. “To be in a space where you can focus on something that feeds you rather than depletes you is a welcome relief.’’ The social image-sharing service Pinterest reports that in the past year, searches for “art therapy activities’’ have jumped 444 percent, for “social media detox’’ have risen 314 percent, and for “garden room’’ have increased 104 percent.
Architect Maryann Thompson, whose eponymous firm is in Watertown, is working on a stand-alone, backyard crafts studio, as well as a home on Martha’s Vineyard that is literally wrapped around a greenhouse. “The client said, ‘I want to live in and amongst plants all year long.’ The greenhouse is his place of refuge,’’ Thompson said.
South Shore floral designer Julie Raymond, owner of Bittersweet Gardens, finds solace in her greenhouse. Now her 9-year-old daughter does, too. “I’ve been finding her out there doing schoolwork, chatting with friends, and making TikToks,’’ she said. “I love having her join me, as she held little interest in [my business] before.’’ As for the plant life, Raymond said, “Our flowers and seedlings are in full swing, completely unaware of any virus.”
Gracie May, who lives in British Columbia, transformed her home’s covered patio into a wonderland of sorts for her teenage daughter, who struggles with depression. “When things shut down she barely left her room,’’ May said. “We strung fairy lights, added a sofa and power for her computer. She spends hours outside in her little sanctuary, drawing and talking to friends on FaceTime.’’
Interior designers also are fielding many requests for spaces devoted to yoga and meditation. That’s hardly surprising considering the practice of meditation by adults in the United States tripled between 2012 and 2017, according to a report by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Pinterest saw a 108 percent year-over-year increase in April for the term “meditation tips for beginners.’’
North Shore designer Holly Gagne is considering whether to offer a package specifically targeted to clients looking to create sanctuary spaces. “Practices like mindfulness and meditation have become more mainstream,’’ she said.
Boston-based designer Dane Austin is designing a Zen room in Weston for a couple with three young children. The room — meant solely for meditation, yoga, and relaxation — will supplant a seldom-used enclosed porch. Pauline Curtiss of Lincoln-based Patina Designs will paint an organic motif on the upper portion of the walls and ceiling. “It’s best viewed and appreciated when lying in Shavasana [corpse pose],’’ Austin said.
One doesn’t need a dedicated space to meditate, however. Rick Miller, a clinical social worker with private practices in Boston and Cape Cod, reminds us that peace is a state of mind. He asserts that people can draw on memories of a beautiful place that inspires them to conjure calm. “It’s a combination of physical space and internal space that contributes to one’s mindset,’’ Miller explained.
Moira Murphy, a mother of two and a certified yoga instructor who lives in Roslindale, has an approach that exemplifies that ethos. The nook where she practices became her husband’s (temporary) home office.
“I seek alone time for meditating, exercising, and yoga on my back deck,’’ Murphy said. “I have made my peace with being exposed to the neighborhood and love my time in the fresh air.’’