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Though many home-related plans have been put on hold during the pandemic, some are ramping up again with new options and guidelines for added safety. We checked with several Metro Detroit sources to see what’s available and what you should know when searching for residential products and services in the time of coronavirus.

Whenever possible, virtual appointments can be a great alternative. Before COVID-19, Melanie Sobocinski, a productivity coach and owner of Prof Organizer LLC in Ann Arbor who typically helps academics organize their time, offices and homes was already doing much of her work remotely by phone or videoconference. Though she’s not meeting in person at the moment, some clients are requesting more frequent online meetings to help them (re)establish routines and reorganize personal workspaces to use this time more effectively.

“Setting up our homes to support us makes more of a difference than ever. Everyone staying in isolation has taken a productivity hit while reacting to this crisis and figuring out the short- and long-term implications,” she says. “Everyone has challenges in this crisis, whether young or old, living solo or in a family with young children, staying home or doing essential work under tough conditions. Many of us have a chance to evaluate having more time and less rushing in our lives. And it's a gift to see what our lives can be if we stick to the essentials.”

Ground work

For other companies, curbside service has become the new norm. “That works out really well,” says Edmond Hagopian, president of Hagopian World of Rugs and Cleaning Services about the rug cleaning available at most locations. “We had to figure out how to do it with the customer calling us before the drop-off and the pickup, but in some ways it may be even easier for them.” Porch pickup and delivery is another option.

Though Hagopian initially put residential carpet cleaning on hold, they are now scheduling appointments for workers with proper protocols in place like wearing masks and gloves. Their wall-to-wall carpet and floor installations were able to resume when new construction got the green light and their retail showrooms are open. With re-openings, social distancing has become another common practice.

Clean sweep

Other home maintenance workers are taking added precautions. The team members at Merry Maids in Detroit that services Metro Detroit and beyond have been trained in new procedures that require them to change their masks and gloves and wipe down supplies in between clients.

In addition, says service manager Beth Johnston, they’ve been disinfecting high-touch areas like doorknobs and cabinet fronts and using more bleach products and sanitizing wipes than before. Shoe covers can also be worn upon request. “We’re trying to make customers feel safe and healthy in their homes, so we’re taking every precaution to uplift their cleaning,” she says.

Geoff Shaule, owner of G&S Window Washing & Gutter Cleaning, Inc. in Troy says gutters and other exterior cleaning services have been uninterrupted, but customers were very understanding when they opted not to do interior windows until now. For exterior work, no-contact service and paperless transactions mean appointments and payments are conducted by phone. Crews call homeowners when they’re on their way so they can start upon arrival.

Initially, they kept a list of homes that required a return visit, like those with hard-to-reach interior windows or mirrors. Now workers will have their temperatures checked and fill out a questionnaire before entering homes. They’ll also wear masks, gloves and foot covers and use hand sanitizer. “It’s been a real team effort,” says Shaule, who shares ideas with similar businesses nationwide to rise to the challenge.

In good taste

Now that gatherings of up to 100 are allowed outside, catering needs can be considered. “Our chefs can come up with tailored graduation menus and we have contactless drop-off or curbside pickup,” says Erika Miller, director of events for Great Lakes Culinary Center in Southfield.

Creative adaptations for drive-by or socially distanced celebrations like bridal showers include prewrapped salads, sandwiches and baked goods that are easy to grab. For a family feast on Father’s Day, a custom barbecue menu can be made for any taste or budget. Virtual cooking classes, like the ones designed for vegan clients, make a great gift.

As restrictions continue to be lifted, a strolling open house with small plates and prepackaged desserts can feature high-top tables for a quick outdoor visit. For other al fresco gatherings, Miller suggests comfort foods like their fried chicken with assorted hot sauces and made-from-scratch ice cream.

While many events like weddings have been postponed, couples who had to forgo their baby showers can host a Sip and See after the fact when it’s safe to do so. “That way you don’t rob yourself of having a fun celebration,” Miller says.

Fresh perspective

As residential projects start up again in conjunction with new construction, customers can shop the showrooms at Home Interior Warehouse in Walled Lake and Plymouth where virtual design consultations are also available for a fee along with curbside and delivery service. “With all this time spent at home, people have taken stock of their environment,” says owner/designer Jackie Schwartz. “Going forward, it will be more comfortable to entertain at home or on a patio or deck.”

Current trends include the color green and permanent botanicals, such as succulents. Home office furniture has been in demand as people work remotely. “More and more companies are planning to either keep some people at home or stagger how many can be in the office,” says Schwartz. “There’s a greater need for attractive pieces, from a full office suite to a beautiful writing desk that can be a console table behind a sofa or go in a master bedroom.”

TV upgrades have made entertainment centers another popular pick. “Now they can be a focal point for your room,” says Schwartz who believes quick pick-me-ups can be as simple as a new piece of art. “They make you feel better and make your house smile again.”

Jeanine Matlow writes the Smart Solutions column in Homestyle. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.

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