Friends, this post hits home. As Lauren and I prepared for this one, and I then began writing it, I realized there was no way for me not to make it personal. Some things just have to be personal. And they’re often more powerful that way. While all the tips, tricks and room designs still come straight from our favorite designer, with her blessing, I wanted to share my own perspective as well.
There are so many things that we need and desire from our homes. For many of us, chief among these is the need for home to be a haven; a place of rest and peace. As someone who struggles with anxiety, this isn’t just a desire but a very real need. Having my home be a calming and soothing space is just one more tool I can use when battling anxiety. And this wasn’t something I realized until I learned it from Lauren herself.
This all sounds well and good, right? But how do you actually make home into this very special place? As I write this, the flame of my sugar cookie candle is bobbing merrily beside me. I have a salt lamp glowing nearby and a vase of cool, periwinkle flowers brightens my desk in front of me. The answer is: one small, intentional step at a time.
Reduce Clutter, Increase Functionality
While I’ll get to the decor aspect of it later in this post, first I want to focus on chaos control. Any steps you take to make your home a soothing place will be much more effective if you’re not tripping over shoes, children’s toys and other odds and ends first.
Start with simplifying. Yes! It’s such a good word! I’m not talking about throwing out every piece of memorabilia you own. Those things can be comforting in their own way. But, if you feel your space is cluttered, chaotic or overwhelming, then it might mean it’s time for you to do a clean out. One way is to follow Marie Kondo’s advice in The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. In her book, she recommends only keeping the things that spark joy within you. Also, try to find a space for everything, that way, when things get left out, it’s easy to tuck them away in their predetermined spot. If you run out of spaces, it could be a good sign that it’s time to do some eliminating.
Overall, remember that less is often more. Focus on having several bigger pieces, rather than lots of little decorative pieces. This makes your space less visually taxing as there’s less for your eyes to organize. And if you dislike dusting as much as I do, that’s another huge benefit!
Keep in mind, everyone has a different level of comfort with how much stuff they own. Some people like being surrounded by photos and favorite memorabilia. Others find comfort in the bare minimum. The key is to find a level where you and your family are comfortable and your space is also functional.
Examine Your Layout
Now is also your chance to think through layout. Does your space function well? Is that sofa always in the way? Does your desk have a view out your favorite window or is it facing the wall instead? Sometimes our layout options are limited, but other times, we just need to get a little more creative.
Don’t be afraid to try a new layout. You can even empty a room first so that you can work with a blank slate. Try floating pieces away from the wall if you have a big enough space. Avoid blocking windows so that you can maximize your light intake. Think through how traffic usually flows through your home so you don’t find it frustrating to get around.
Lastly, create intentional spaces to do your favorite relaxing activities in. For example, if you love to read, create a little reading nook devoid of technology and distractions. Would you like to drink more tea? Layout a tea station so that it’s easier for you to quickly and efficiently do this. Try to keep work out of your “relaxing zones.” If you have children in school, think about separating out study areas for them to work in that have all their needed supplies, calming aids and none of the distractions.
Calm With Color
Color is a factor when it comes to creating a calming space. Cool colors (often whites, blues, greens, grays and purples) are known for being soothing. They remind us of nature and certain shades can aid in concentration, creativity and relaxation. Overall, they often feel quieter, more subdued and just…calmer.
If you’re repainting, perfect! Think through each room’s purpose and decide which spaces would benefit from a relaxing tone. But, if you’re not, no worries. You can still pull in cool colors through other decor, such as rugs, window treatments or throw pillows.
Love Your Lighting
Lighting also plays a role in our ability to relax and unwind. In the Northern states, it’s especially important that we have a variety of lighting to meet our needs throughout the long winters. While bright overhead lights can be great for working, they’re not as soothing. In rooms where you want to relax, try mixing in a variety of lighting choices, such as lamps, candles and string lights. Yes it’s the current craze, but I personally love my salt lamp. It gives a nice rosy glow and has a soothing, natural feel to it.
Not only does the type of lighting matter, but also the color, such as white vs. soft white. Bright white light tends to wake you up, while softer options are more gentle and better for relaxing. When shopping for lightbulbs, keep this in mind. You may want to steer towards a softer choice, like warm white, rather than the brighter, more intense options.
A common term floating around these days is mindfulness. It’s a technique that involves focusing in on the present, noticing the little things around you and trying to relax by being in the moment. What would it look like for us to decorate that way? Intentionally. Mindfully.
As you style your home, mix in textures that bring warmth and softness to a room. Dapple your space with easy care houseplants that are known for being calming. Add in cozy blankets, family pictures, favorite artwork that soothes and surrounds you in comfort. Try out an essential oil diffuser. And take notice to how you respond to each thing. Do you like your color scheme or is it too monotone? Do you like the bubbling of your diffuser or is it annoying? Find what speaks to you. Play with it. Designing isn’t just a task, it’s an art and art is all about experimenting, creating and discovering.
The Final Result
While most of us have some calming elements already in our homes, it’s another thing to intentionally incorporate them and to keep incorporating them. Now that I know what an aid my home can be when trying to destress, I utilize it differently. Whether it’s lighting a candle, wrapping myself up in a cozy blanket or pausing to enjoy the play of sunshine through my kitchen window, all these seemingly mundane tasks help me to just be, to just pause and exist, in what feels like a rather chaotic world.
Our hope at LF Designs is that these suggestions will inspire you to make your home a haven for yourself and your family. If you've already done so, then we hope this is simply a gentle reminder to continue to utilize your space that way. Home should be a place that gives to you, so that you can continue to go out into the world and give without being drained.
How have you made your home a comforting and restful place for yourself?
If all of this post sounded well and good to you except for the DIY aspect, we are here to help! Lauren Figueroa Interior Design would love to come alongside you and make your haven a reality. Schedule your free kick-off call here.