As the place where you often escape after the stress of work or hectic woes of life, your home needs to evoke a serene atmosphere and help you recharge from the day. However, its ability to do so is often overlooked, leading to a space that drains you.
“Your home either nurtures and supports you or depletes your energy and leaves you exhausted,” says interior designer, founder, and CEO of Home and Harmony Lifestyle Christa O’Leary. “In today’s world, it is more important than ever to create a calm and peaceful space that allows you to recharge.”
Creating a tranquil abode goes beyond your design aesthetic and objects within a space; it starts with simple, mindful practices that allow you to feel stress-free. No matter your lifestyle, here are 10 practical ways to transform your home into a balanced and peaceful retreat.
Conquer the Clutter
Whether you’re an avid follower of the KonMari method or a self-proclaimed maximalist, it’s common knowledge that clutter produces physical and unconscious chaos. Oftentimes unkempt piles and disorganization can lead to 20 minutes of searching for those pesky car keys and an overall feeling of distress. Take some time to tackle that messy closet or piles of old mail bogging you down. You’ll feel the tension immediately escape the room as you toss away those unneeded items.
“Few things create mental unrest like clutter. Spend time cleaning out unused items for donation, and invest in appealing organizational tools like woven baskets, oversize clear jars, and drawer inserts,” recommends Houston-based decorator Marie Flanigan.
Venture with Color
The simple addition of a colorful wall or statement piece can transform the mood of any room. Silky white textiles offer a sense of elegance and serenity to a bedroom, whereas a daffodil shade may add just the right amount exuberance to a family’s living room. Choosing the right color scheme can be a challenge, so experiment with different shades and combinations to determine how they may impact the feeling of a space.
Designer Jan Showers often experiments with cool shades when looking to create a soothing space. “If you are feeling as though you need a calm house to come home to—or are staying in due to COVID—I recommend painting your rooms in cool colors. Shades of blue and green and combinations of those colors are best,” says Shower. “We have de Gournay’s Weeping Willow in our bedroom, and it is as though we are lying under a tree—what is more relaxing than that?”
Embrace the Power of Plants
When looking to recharge from a stressful week, people often flood to their nearest botanical garden or hiking trail to immerse themselves in nature. Why not bring the restorative qualities of emerald escapes indoors? Not only do they add a verdant pop to your design scheme but, according to a study done by NASA, plants eliminate toxins from indoor spaces, thus re-oxygenating your home.
For those with a not-so-green thumb, try varieties such as parlor palms or snake plants that require little maintenance for maximum serene effects at a low lift.
Don’t Overlook the Bedroom
One of the most intimate areas of your home, the bedroom, should invite you to escape from your busy schedule while still asserting a sense of sophistication. “You always want to walk into a bedroom and feel wowed,” says New York–based decorator Miles Redd. “But it also has to be a place where you can settle in and relax.” Whether you prefer neutrals or pretty pastels, incorporate colors that resonate with you and draw you in to the room. You may also want to pass on putting that television in and opt for calming weeping figs or aloe vera plants, which give off more oxygen at night.
Think Through the Room’s Role
By designating areas for various activities, you are subconsciously allowing yourself to move with ease and purpose within your home. When developing a design scheme for each room, try to decorate with the space’s function in mind. In the media room of Meg Braff’s Long Island estate, the designer incorporated a playful wallcovering by Katie Ridder to match the youthful spirit of the family’s hangout spot.
Strike a Balance
The Chinese tradition of feng shui emphasizes the balance of opposing yet connected forces: yin and yang. The basic idea of the ancient art embodies countless aspects and approaches within decorating as well. From creating complete symmetry within a dining room to playing with dark and light pieces, look for ways to find complete harmony within your space.
Strokes of Natural Light
Nothing brings clarity and highlights the intricate design details of a room like a stroke of natural light. A naturally lit room boosts productivity, improves mood, and creates an overall tranquil atmosphere more so than an artificially lit environment. For apartment dwellers with little to no windows, try incorporating reflective surfaces into the home. The amount of natural light will immediately double by allowing sunlight to reflect off strategically placed large mirrors or lacquered pieces.
Utilize Natural Textures
It’s human instinct for people to appreciate and be attracted to the charming beauty of nature. While houseplants aren’t for everyone, textures and pieces made from natural materials exude the same amount of tranquility and ground the overall theme of a room. There are countless ways to foster a sense of inner calm through earthy pieces like original woodwork or adding a woven side table.
Richmond-based decorator Sara Hillery tends to lean on softer materials that can help to make it feel more tranquil and cozy. “Covering hard floors with rugs and layering textures to create depth rather than layering contrasting colors and patterns all create a serene environment,” explains Hillery.
Look for Movement
Not to be overlooked, outdoor spaces play an essential role in the overall harmony of a home. Opulent, manicured boxwoods and lush beds of fragrant roses make for the perfect relaxing escape, just steps away from your own door. To elevate any garden into a reflective sanctuary, try to integrate moments of movement throughout your lavish mazes. For example, the soft babble of a storied fountain lends a gentle yet elegant quality to any setting.
The same idea goes for the interiors too. Look for natural ways to incorporate a sense of movement with your space. As Hillery points out, this can be as simple as opting for light, airy drapery, which tends to sway when the cool breeze comes through the windows.
All Rooms Are Important
Whether it’s a small powder room needing a refresh or a less-than-cozy home library, it often feels easier to close the door on these rooms and deal with them another day. Unfortunately, they weigh on your unconscious and zap your energy—they are essentially a task left undone. Create home unity by making each space in your dwelling an inspired one.
(Elle-Lindsey Campbell, Oct. 9, 2020)