Home is where we kick our shoes off, lean back, and breathe a deep sigh of relaxation. At least it is SUPPOSED to be a place where you can retreat from the stress and anxiety of everyday life. When our home doesn’t meet our practical and aesthetic needs, it can contribute to symptoms of depression. Who wants to come home to an uninviting hovel at the end of your day? I added a board on Pinterest entitled, “The Home Space,” where I dreamily add photos of rooms and patios-to-be. Whether you have a large or small home, there are things you can do on every budget to decorate and organize your personal space so that it becomes a haven of rest.
Lighting is important. You will need bright overhead lighting in spaces like kitchens, but when the work is done, turn down the sun and opt for small lamps with stained glass bulbs (if not expensive stained glass lamps) to create a warm and cozy glow. Choose a focal point that relaxes you such as a work of art and highlight it with a small spotlight. Light candles for ambiance. Maximize healthy, natural light by de-cluttering windows and draping a sheer piece of fabric across the top. Some of the new LED bulbs may last 12 years, but they are a blast of white that can hurt your eyes! My son painted his light cover black in retaliation against the new bulb and the result was actually a subtle inviting light that reflects off of the white ceiling. When he has a project that requires bright light, he can remove the cover or swap it out with an unpainted replacement.
The use of color can make or break the look and feel of a home. Choose your color scheme then choose one bright, standout color for accents. A bright, primary colored throw pillow, candleholder, lampshade or blanket can offset earth tones, pastels or jewel tones. Surprisingly, the use of black or white as an accent color creates a crisp, modern feel. Most home improvement store associates will be happy to sit down with you and choose color schemes that fit your personality, especially if they sense a complete remodel in your future!
I’ll never forget the smell of my grandparents’ farmhouse. As soon as you walked in the door you were met with the aroma of herbs, spices and delicious foods cooking. They must have canned, cooked and prepped food so often that the smells were ingrained in the wood of the furniture! If you aren’t a chef, you can achieve a pleasant home aroma by using incense, candles, automatic sprayers and essential oils. My favorite aromatherapy tool lately is a simple wax warmer fueled by tea lights and wax cubes. I’m just waiting for some unsuspecting cat to encounter the hot wax!
Clutter is always a problem in my European-rooted family. We might need these things someday, so we stack and store and collect. I have found that if I inspect my cabinets annually, I can keep treasures neatly stored on shelves and in closets. Buzzfeed.com has some great ideas for maximizing small spaces in their article “31 Tiny House Hacks to Maximize Your Space” such as turning load-bearing walls into floor-to-ceiling shelves, adding a loft, using mirrors and glass walls and white paint to create the illusion of larger spaces, and creatively using nooks and crannies for storage.
Lastly, surround yourself with things you love. Make your space your own with photographs, artwork, posters, plants (which improve air quality!), knick-knacks and books. Years ago, someone told me that every home should have an “item of interest;” something that draws attention immediately and can be a comfort or a conversation starter. This has long since been a joke in my family and we tend to choose “items” with a comic flare, such as a metal pig sculpture, or an action figure from the 70’s. The goal is to create a space that you are comfortable coming home to, a place where you can throw your feet up and unwind. So while you curl up on the couch and relax, ponder this… What will you choose for your “item of interest?”