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At home with Home Beautiful’s Katrina O’Brien

A peek into how Katrina and her family are coping with social isolation

WATCH: Transform a white bedroom into a luxe space ready for Zoom!

Home Beautiful acting editor Katrina O’Brien lives in a still-to-be-renovated beachside semi in Sydney’s eastern suburbs with husband Fabio, two grown-up children, Joe and Rosalie, and loveable mystery cross Archie, the family favourite.  

Here, we ask Katrina how COVID-19 has affected her house rules – from family habits to cooking, new daily routines and the cleaning products she now uses…

katrina obrien
Home Beautiful editor Katrina O’Brien. (Credit: Brigid Arnott)

House cleaning: How has COVID-19 changed your approach? 

“I have actually never seen my children’s rooms so tidy! They are both studying at university remotely, so those Zoom tutorials mean that it’s not only us that are getting an eyeful of their rooms. So some parts of the house are looking extremely tidy at the moment!

Our focus has really been on the hand-washing rather than additional cleaning. Although, we are taking extra care in our food preparation area to ensure everything is just that bit ‘more sparkling’.”

New hygiene rules: Is it shoes off, gloves on…? 

“I’m constantly on about the hand-washing – washing hands before leaving the house to go shopping or exercising, washing hands as soon as we’re back in the house and before eating anything. It’s something I used to be insistent on when the kids were younger, “wash your hands before dinner!” It’s great to see they’re actually doing it without prompting now.”

Hello Archie! Woof!

The products: Soap operas, or every day norm?  

“I have to be honest and nope, I haven’t swapped out any of my usual handwashing or cleaning products for super-strength brands. Although, we had regular hand soap in the kitchen, but that has now been swapped out for antibacterial wash.”

Happy homes: How are you staying healthy in mind and body? 

Our dog, Archie, is pretty exhausted at the moment as he’s getting quite a few walks a day instead of the one and a bit. I’m so happy we have him – he really has been a lifesaver during this time and brings us all so much joy. We have a little ‘coffee club’ going in the morning with whoever can take a break, so we walk to our local café to pick up a coffee and keep walking.

In terms of exercise, I’ve swapped my regular yoga classes for streaming, and that’s working really well although it was a little bit tricky the other night when all the spaces seemed to be taken and I had to squeeze in between the bed and the wardrobe. I must admit, I love having lunch outside with the family every day as it really breaks up the day. We don’t have much news to share, but it’s still lovely!”

Foodie rules: What’s new on the shopping and cooking menu?

“I’m a weekly menu list maker, so there hasn’t been much change for us. I’ve always been one for the big shop with a bit of supplementing during the week and this is working well for us. I’m really trying to minimise essential shop visits. We’re making sure we eat a couple of vegetarian meals a week, which my daughter makes. Current daily highlight: fresh bread from the local café that we pick up on our morning walk.”

Four adults working from home: sanity tips!

“We have quite a small home but we’ve all seemed to naturally find our work spaces. The kids are in their rooms – they used to often study on the dining room table because they’re rooms were so messy – and my husband has the office and I’ve got the dining table with a view out backyard and pool. Archie the dog seems to roam around checking in on everyone, keeping everyone happy and we’ve sort of developed a new rhythm to the every day. We’re lucky we all quite like each other!”

Routines & running a mag: freedom!

“I admit I do like setting my alarm a little later every day, having the freedom to start dinner earlier and put on a load of washing (exciting, I know!). I love the Home Beautiful team’s beautiful faces every day on Zoom and on our Wattsap group, which is filled with quite hilarious shots of everyone’s funny goings on at home. But I am missing all my Home Beauties and being able to duck out for a coffee and chat up a storm. I look forward to the day we get to do that in person.”

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