I have picked up some bad (or good depending on how you look at it) habits in recent months. Being stuck indoors has seen my screen time activity on my phone skyrocket. I used to barely look at the thing most days. Now it seems I can’t go an evening thumbing through my phone while half paying attention to whatever the latest must-watch on Netflix is.

During this time, I have become obsessed with Reddit and finding unique subreddits I never knew  I wanted to read about. From movie details and running to slow cooking and “Life Pro Tips”, there is seemingly a never-ending array of little pockets of the internet to take a deep dive on. In particular, one which I have become obsessed with is r/Malelivingspace. All it ever shows are photos of people who have got some fancy furniture for their apartments and homes, with most looking like a mixture between an IKEA catalogue and the apartment from Frasier.

And because I spend most of my day now stuck indoors, I have taken the notion to update little areas of my home with the same sophistication, on a budget, using local furniture shops or vintage stores where possible. If you’re wondering what a “must-have” item could be, here are some of my picks.

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1 – A dedicated reading chair

I sit and work at the kitchen table. For me, it is now my dedicated workspace. I often find that if I try to unwind and read in the evening, I am doing it on the sofa facing the TV, which is just all too tempting. That’s why I got a quite cheap reading chair from a local buy & sell group, and put it in my bedroom. It gives me a quiet space to read, and because it isn’t my bed, there’s no risk of reading turning into post-work naps.

2 – A TV unit

Tidiness is next to godliness. Having a half dozen cables sprawled out around the TV, while you balance a PS4 on some books isn’t. A dedicated media/TV unit is a must in any living room where you want to chill out and watch or play anything unencumbered.  It will instantly make things look tidy and give you a piece of furniture to centre the room around.

I got a retro-style unit from a local store here in Glasgow called Hampton McMurray. I would recommend them for anyone who wants to shop independent who lives in the area too. Remember, it’s never been more important to shop and support local.

3 – Frames, lots of frames

A picture is worth a thousand words. Lots of pictures on your walls are worth more. I know pretty much nothing about art, but I love a good print from Etsy. I would recommend against having “live, laugh, love” on your walls, and instead dedicate a wall as somewhere you can hang as many different sized framed prints as you want. I did it and now often find myself just staring at pictures I like for a while. Even small photos are great for remembering the “before” times when we could just go outside.

4 – Hidden lamps

I am not a fan of the LED strips you see on Instagram and TikTok videos, but I love a good bit of mood lighting. Without having to fork out for one of those giant lamps with a large bending neck, a quick hack I’ve learned is to take any cheap lamps you don’t much like the look of and pop them in corners or areas where they can’t be seen, but the light can still shine.

If you have a sofa covering a corner, give it a go, and see how it helps set a warm mood in the evenings.

5 – A properly good plant

There are people out there who became sourdough masters in the last year. Others have been able to grow herb gardens in their kitchens. I have been useless at both. That doesn’t mean I can’t have a bit of green indoors. Plants are mood-boosters, and contrary to what information you find online, they help with purifying the air.

Now, there is no such thing as an “indoor plant”. They all need a good bit of sunlight and water to look good. Still, at a press, I would recommend having either a Swiss cheese (Monstera Deliciosa), Dracaena, or Rubber Tree in your living room.

There you have it. Five items I think will help any living space look its best. For more décor tips, check out the latest home improvement articles on the site.

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