When it comes to making people feel welcome and safe in your home, even small things can make a big difference. Maya Rooz knows how to prepare your apartment for refugees from Ukraine to provide them with a temporary new home. The coach runs The Life Curator and usually advises people on how to set up their homes after major life upheavals. But Maya Rooz also has some valuable tips for hosts who want to accommodate refugees from Ukraine.
1. Create a calm space
Before they come to you, people from Ukraine have an emotionally exhausting journey behind them. Once they arrive in Germany, they experience a foreign environment and face an extremely uncertain future. It is therefore important, says Maya, to think about how the rooms affect the psyche of the future residents.
“Think about how you want the person to feel in your home,” she says. “The space you offer, no matter how small or large, light or dark, should be warm and calm.” When preparing rooms for your Ukrainian guests, opt for warmer lighting, try to introduce calming colours, such as blue, green, soft greys, pinks, whites, and yellows, and pay attention to the little things. A thoughtfully placed plant, candle or bottle of water can make a world of difference.
2. Offer privacy
When you move into another person’s home as a stranger, you experience the loss of a certain amount of independence and privacy – a difficult adjustment. To ease this situation for the people you are hosting, Maya advises respecting the privacy and self-determination of your guests – not only in their bedroom, but also in the kitchen, bathroom and other shared spaces.
“Provide an empty closet and dresser” she says, advising hosts to take all their belongings out of there for maximum comfort. An empty closet gives guests a space they can claim for themselves. Also, Maya says, try to clear out an entire shelf in the refrigerator and at least one drawer in the bathroom.
3. Make it neutral
The people you will be hosting have lost or left behind much, if not everything, in their homeland, including personal items such as family photos or other mementos. It is especially stressful if family members had to stay in Ukraine. Keep this in mind when setting up a room for your guests.
“Provide a neutral environment that is as free as possible from personal photos and mementos,” advises Maya. This way, on the one hand, you avoid a painful reminder of things your guests may have lost, and on the other hand, you offer them a space in which they can arrange themselves as they wish.
Also, Maya says, try to make all rooms, especially bedrooms, as tidy as possible. “Remove as much visible clutter as possible,” she recommends. “It’s been proven that a cluttered environment increases the stress hormone cortisol.”