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  • Awatef Zaoui

How lockdown transformed my civilised, educated, well-mannered family into pure savages.

Who remembers the first days of lockdown, thinking “it would be only for a week or two”? Who remembers saying to his family: “How cool! Will get to spend more time with the kids, stop the soul-sucking commute, take the chance to Marie Kondo my house, read a book and cook better meals “...

Now, a year later, the bald patches,, onset of hypertension and post-traumatic nightmares are the side effects, which remind me how healthy and sane it is to have a space that is conducive to individual growth, which, in turn, allows us to be part of a healthy community. One of the immediate changes that e-learning/WFH forced upon me, was the need to re-assess the functionality of our home. It was not only the place where we met, ate and slept. It became our kids’ classroom, our offices, our piano-judo-dance-art studio and it was not unusual to host three ZOOM calls simultaneously, a PE class and a business meeting while cooking breakfast – snack – lunch – snack – snack – snack – snack – dinner – snack- snack.

I have four children. A boy, aged 9, a girl, aged 6 and a surprise, aged 18 months. Oh, and a husband. The challenges were of all sorts: room functionality, space planning, furniture layout, lighting, and style – all needed a serious adjustment. The need was real (no wonder “Home Office Desks” became a separate category on most online furniture stores.) Money was an element to consider with extra caution, as the economic pandemic was also hurting massively.

I remember having so many out-of-body experiences, witnessing the chaos of our life. It took me a good two months to realize that e-learning and WFH was not temporary anymore. I can see myself screaming at my kids, who often acted like wild things “We are not in the JUNGLE!” but I was living in it and it was time to accept the not-so- temporary situation. So, I thought “Let’s embrace the Jungle and let’s be free and wild – like Tarzan, Jane, Baloo and more!”

JUNGLE theme in kids’ bedroom interior design is one of the most popular ones, regardless of the gender: Why wouldn’t it be? It is exciting, earthy, wild and exotic.

It could be an impressive project to start and to avoid it becoming a messy and draining one, here are the four guidelines to help you achieve a slick look:

1- More is less: Choose one dominant colour and take your time to ponder all the hues and tints of that chosen shade. Be brave and go for cognac or hunter green. In order to fit the theme, it simply needs to have an earthy tone, with added variants of green, beige or brown. Remember that the accessories and toys will give the room a busy feeling so one dominant colour will do.

2- There is no jungle without vines: Acting as an accent wall or as decorative touch to your furniture, you will need tropical plants and, depending on the age of your little one, this can be a good opportunity to teach them about taking care of a living thing. Alternatively, just go for a synthetic one that is safe. I imagined the transformation of our Ikea Ivar storage unit into a cool Safari station.

You could use any of your storage units to achieve a kids-friendly look, inviting them to clean up after their play. Here is the list of the materials we used: - Ivar Cabinet Unit and doors, Ikea - Synthetic grass,30x80cm

- 2 coats of paint, Modern Beige, Jotun, 12076 - 2 unused wooden jungle animal toys.

3- Go into the Jungle mindset and create pragmatical spaces. Don’t waste your time looking for something you want and can’t find it. Specially now, when time is a limited resource which needs to be used wisely. If you can’t find it, then do it. Make it. Draw it. Write it. List your needs and take the necessary steps. Naturally, our ancestors wrote on the walls of their caves and now progress has us doing it on our iPhones walls (thanks Facebook).

Almost intuitively, our little ones start by leaving their graffiti on the walls of their caves, I mean, bedrooms. There must be an ergonomic reason behind it. There is also an eye level principle linked to it. Notwithstanding the scientific explanations, the results can easily drive us, parents, crazy. These expression of our kid’s artistic fibres on our walls can be, at the very least, irritating.

There are many ways to address this. One of my favourites is: “if they have to do it, then let me create a space for it”. There are many options available to support this principle. Options that will allow you to combine aesthetics and pragmatism, without the need to compromise.

Some wall treatments are largely available in the market and used in business environment where there is need to communicate visually, brainstorm, create and be proactive (wait.... these needs are not exclusive to businesses, right?) .

The most effective materials to use:

- Magnetic wall treatment - Chalkboard medium - Cork

They can be pleasant to the eye, offering a larger colour panel (still limiting for the design enthusiasts, yet much more diverse than a few years ago, when we just had the one option). They can beautify an entire wall, allowing for greater functionality. They also can be used as a personalised board, organically integrating into and accentuating an overall theme.

4- Get some key pieces to amplify the experience. The options are endless when we enter the realm of online shopping. A good way to choose is to identify your criteria. Sometimes, it’s time. Sometimes, money. Sometimes, colour.... Essentially, whatever is the need and, always, whatever is the ‘feeling’.

So, as details are the zest of design, here are a selection of three items “in my cart”. I usually enjoy buying local and from small business, whenever possible. If it can be a piece that can evolve with us, it is an added bonus.

I would love to share few gems:

- Global explorer Tiger Rug, 100% Cotton, available exclusively on Amara The size, feel and look of this rug are so inviting. I loved that it is a piece that will grow with the kids. It doesn’t have the baby-ish style. I can see it in a funky office, a kid’s bedroom, a leisure room, a reading corner. The dimension is generous (95x155cm) and the price is kids' friendly.

- White Monkey Lamp Hanging, Version from Seletti, Hanging Lamp from Caramel and Sun

This monkey lamp is a game changer. Again, versatile it can change the ambiance of any space and will look fantastic in any room. It comes with quite a price tag, yet again the unusual and funky look of the lamp deserves the investment and will compliment any room.

- Last but not least, our Mumz and Munchkinz stuffed Elephant head, wall mounted from homehubme. It beautifies any room from nursery to pre-teen, this focal point is the promise of many adventurous stories. I love it and its pocket friendly.

Voila, I hope you enjoyed the journey. The Jungle is an amazing space to explore, grow and learn. To be adventurous and daring. To connect and reenergize. And if sometimes we all go bananas, at the end of the day, when everyone is asleep, I can still smile looking back on our journey.

So yes, Lockdown transformed my civilized, educated, well-mannered family into pure savages. And I loved it! Especially now that everyone is back to school...


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