The Home Optimization Guide: For Living, Working, And Relaxing In Your Space

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With the ongoing pandemic, the rise of remote work, and people generally spending more time at home these days, many are looking for easy ways to improve and optimize their home living spaces.

As a self-employed entrepreneur working from home, I’ve searched for ways to make my space more efficient and enjoyable in the past few months. If you’re in the same boat, I hope these recent purchases and recommendations of mine will resonate with you, too.

1. A Robot That Cleans Floors And Self-Empties

The Roomba j7+ dodges items on your floor, follows your schedule, and empties itself
Credit: @ashliizmarie

iRobot is a brilliant company when it comes to building cleaning robots–and the Roomba j7+ ($649.99) is no exception. With the ability to avoid obstacles on the floor (such as cables, headphones, and solid pet waste), this version of the Roomba packs an impressive punch despite its small size. It even self-empties! I also like the fact that it offers personalized cleaning suggestions, such as cleaning more often during pet shedding or allergy seasons. Pet owners like myself swear by this autonomous vacuum that keeps your floors clear in between regular deep cleanings.

2. Runners and Rugs To Safeguard Your Floors

Armadillo rugs are handcrafted and designed to last for years
Credit: @armadilloandco

New rugs are a simple way to upgrade your space and, in some cases, optimize cleaning. Old and worn-out rugs also tend to trap more dirt, dust, and pet hair, often meaning there are more allergens in the air. I recently added this simple Armadillo rug runner ($370) to my laundry room to protect the tile floors in that space, as it’s also located in a main entryway within my home. Jute rugs like this one are made from natural, durable fibers that are pet-friendly and clean easily.

3. Washable, Quick-Drying Mats For Pet Spaces

These vinyl rugs are washable and pet-friendly. Credit: @Vmathome

Speaking of pets and protecting your floors…if you have furry friends sharing a living space with you, you know how messy they can be. Aside from a stylish and sturdy rug, I also invested in a washable vinyl mat from Vmat and a Dorai pet bowl mat to keep my floors free from pet messes. 

I opted for the Hike vinyl mat ($59.90), which has a timeless vintage design that also does a great job of protecting my floors in the cat’s litter box area. The material is easy to wipe down and stays in place, meaning less mess in this high-traffic area.

Got pets who are messy drinkers? These quick-drying mats mean no more soggy floors.
Credit: @paigeohsoriri

My next pet-friendly find was this quick-drying dog bowl mat ($135) from Dorai, which is perfect for my dog (who happens to be a sloppy drinker). I wanted to prevent water damage to the floor, so I chose this eco-friendly, quick-drying mat made from algae that blends in seamlessly with my kitchen decor.

4. Closet Solutions That Save Space

Nothing feels as good as an organized closet.
Credit: @personalorganizermiami

No one knows the benefits of organization and beautiful spaces better than Marie Kondo. A simple closet organization system makes organizing your closet a breeze (maybe even therapeutic; it was for me!).

Taking time to revamp my closet with this Shoji set from KonMari X The Container Store (pieces start at $19.99) made this space in my home much more organized and visually pleasing. (And yes, I donated a LOT to simplify my clothing collection down to only pieces that “spark joy.”) Its timeless, practical design made with bamboo displays the traditional latticework Japanese room dividers are known for, and adds an element of elegance and simplicity to my closet. Highly recommend doing this!

5. Containers and Shelf Organizers To Streamline Your Kitchen

Junk drawer, be gone!
Credit: @sageorganization

Having organized my closet, I next turned my attention to my kitchen. In keeping with my Marie Kondo love affair, I bid my junk drawer goodbye and opted for KonMari’s bamboo set of organizers ($39.99). This three-tier expandable bamboo shelf makes a nice home for my condiments and clears my countertop of clutter.

Credit: Container Store

Next, I bought a POP container set ($210) and Linus tea storage ($24) to eliminate bulky packaging and put dry goods in clear, airtight pantry storage. In addition to riding my pantry of visual clutter and packaging, because they’re clear, there’s little need for labels.

6. Cozy Reading Nooks With Comfy Chairs

A quality chair like this one never goes out of style.
Credit: Castlery

I'm an avid reader, so when thinking about how to optimize my living space, I knew dedicated reading spots were a must. I've added new, super comfortable reading chairs in a few rooms–with a fluffy throw blanket nearby–so I have a few dedicated quiet reading spaces. I opted for the Desmond armchair set from Castlery ($615/each). They offer two materials for these chairs: Fabric and Leather. Personally I prefer fabric, because it creates a nice contrast with the wooden frame.

7. Hue Lights For Mood-Matching Ambiance 

Custom lighting is a major game-changer.
Credit: @ireneburg7

There's no better way to change the feeling and vibe of a room than with Hue lights that can change the colors in your setting with the push of a button. I opted for the living room bundle ($235.94) because it’s a great starter pack: The kit includes white and colored bulbs, a Lightstrip Plus, and a Dimmer Switch. These are great for optimized nighttime movie-watching or unwinding at the end of a stressful day.

8. Wireless Charging Pads As Nightstand Organizers

Get rid of bedside clutter with a do-it-all charging pad.
Credit: @jessoliverbaggett

Although I try to keep my nightstand organized, it always looks…cluttered. But I realized what the culprits are: the cords I use to charge my phone and other devices at night. So, I got myself a Courant wireless charging pad ($100). It’s got three coils for faster charging, and a port in case I need to charge more. However, I like that despite being able to charge multiple devices, it doesn't look bulky. In fact, there’s even a place to rest my jewelry at the end of the day–and the classic version can even be monogrammed. No more messy nightstand.

9. Candles For Aromatherapy

Never underestimate the power of scent.
Credit: @thelittlegabi

Diffusers disperse a nice scent throughout a room, but if I’m being honest, I don't think they can hold a candle to, well, candles. When it comes to creating a relaxing environment and a whole aromatherapy session, my current favorites are Cancelled Plans’s french exit and Anecdote Candles ‘smells like hindsight 2020’.

‘French exit’ ($32) has hints of teakwood, tobacco, amber, saffron, sandalwood, incense, and smoke, while ‘smells like hindsight 2020’ ($26) calms instantly with its blend of cedarwood, green leaves, and lavender. 

5 More Home Upgrades To Consider:

Got a bigger budget to optimize your home? Here are five more options you might want to consider.

  • Eight sleep mattress: This bed takes care of you from the minute you lie in bed to sleep all the way until you wake up. This mattress comes with monitors for Room Climate and Weather Response, as well as sensors to monitor Heart Rate Variability that provide a Daily Health Check. While expensive, it’s worth the investment.
  • Solo stove: So far we’ve only talked about indoor additions to your home, but your outdoors also may need some love. This outdoor fire pit will keep you warm and smoke-free thanks to its 360° Airflow Design.
  • Sonos beam sound bar: Love watching movies or TV? With this sound bar, you'll feel like you’re at the cinema while snuggled up in your home.
  • Monstera plant from The Sill: Plants are fantastic for bringing a sense of nature indoors during the winter, which can boost your mood. This beautiful Monstera adds some green to any living space.
  • Burrow throw pillows: Accent pillows can add that extra design flair to any furniture. I love the boucle throw pillows from Burrow for some varied texture.

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