How are you feeling today?
If that question resonates with you in some way, and you care about keeping in good spirits (also important for your health!), then you owe it to yourself to take one simple action before day's end:
Next time you are about to walk through the front door to your home: STOP.
Instead: pause; close your eyes; and clear your mind. Just think of your eyelids as a soothing sweeper that washes away your thoughts with every long, hard blink. Once you have emptied your mind of thought and reached a state of calm and full awareness, open your door, take one complete walk through of your home, and look at everything around you. Take everything in and just observe. When you are done, you should have the answer to the following question:
How does your home make you feel?
If the answer is anything other than fantastic, then you have some work to do. Why? Because, when all's said and done, your home is your greatest retreat from the trials and tribulations of daily living. And amazingly, your home is something that you can control. You have the power to change it to improve your life.
With that in mind, it's extremely important to make sure that your home is designed in a manner that makes you look forward to returning each and every day. Ideally, it should be welcoming, cheerful and warm -- a place that evokes a sense of well-being and comfort. The home can be a sanctuary against unpleasant and stressful events - a place of both quiet contemplation and positive bearings.
Next time you perform the above exercise, and you walk through your doorway, you should feel darn fabulous.
To get you started, here are TEN ways to create an environment that will help brighten your day:
1: Purchase one highly individualized, quirky piece of furniture that will make you smile each time you see it.
For instance, a funny looking chair can cheer up a space by providing an unexpected look that makes you smile with its highly individualistic nature. For instance, if all or most of your furniture is upholstered in fabric, you might integrate a fun departure such as a piece that is furry or has a quirky shape. This chair below is a great example of a piece that can make you feel regal and special with its whimsical and unique enclosing shape. It's a feel-good chair in which to make you keep smiling about the best parts of your day.
(Photo courtesy of Cappellini)
2: Introduce a lovely scent into your home.
Smells have a strong impact on your disposition. Lavender, for instance, is known as a calming and relaxing herb and has frequently been used for insomnia, anxiety, depression and natural stress relief. Try selecting design objects that integrate the scent and spread it your around your space for a relaxing feel as well as a wonderful smell. Diptyque candles have both smoothing smells and a beautiful look that can easily be incorporated throughout the home to provide the full benefit of the fragrance. Any fragrances with which you associate pleasant and positive experiences will evoke similar feelings - so spread the good smells!
(Photo courtesy of Almanaturals.net)
3: Introduce a colorful stem or two of fresh flowers in your entry foyer or dining room table.
Seeing an alive and vibrant part of nature as you walk into your home will evoke thoughts of freshness and liveliness. According to a study by the State University of New Jersey, nature provides us with a simple way to improve emotional health - by living with fresh flowers, which tend to trigger happy emotions and heighten feelings of life's satisfaction. People express "true" or "excited" smiles upon receiving flowers, demonstrating extraordinary delight and gratitude. In addition, a beautifully sculpted and cheerfully colored selected vase can serve as a gorgeous art piece and further enhance a pretty arrangement of flowers.
(Photo by David Estreich)
4: Dress both your table and yourself for dinner.
Presentation says a lot about how you feel about yourself and dressing up can make you feel better. The saying that "clothes make the man," has validity to it, after all. If you're not in a good mood when you return home from work, putting on a nice dress or tie (or a particular outfit that makes you feel great) once in a while can help to reset the mood clock. You'll give yourself a fresh start! Mirror this in your design, "dressing" your table in its own formal look. Attractive linens, good china, your best flatware and some candlesticks can make a weekday meal feel like a special occasion.
(Photo by Gail Green)
5: Use music to create the ideal atmosphere within your home.
It is purported that music has an indirect influence on feelings and other emotional responses. Likewise, from a design perspective, calm and sedate pieces can decrease anxiety while the structural elements of major (happy) and minor (sad) modes influence the listener's feelings. So, if you want to get rid of the doldrums, put on some music with a calming sound. As technology has advanced, sound and design have united in an array of objects with a gorgeous look and sound. For example, a charming self-playing piano that emits relaxing music that puts you in good spirits is a killer combination while an Eames radio provides a vintage look with striking sound. A beautiful Apple product would do just fine as well!
(Photo of Frédéric Chopin by Bisson, 1849)
6: Enhance your mood through color selections.
Specific colors evoke a strong sense of memory and we associate certain colors with events from our past. Bright and warm colors like red and orange veer towards the cheerful. Utilize wall paper and furniture to add some bold hues to feel cheerful or a more serene palette to evoke a sense of calm. Bringing some blue color to the bedroom helps achieve a feeling of calmness. It will help ease the day's turmoil.
(Photo by David Estreich)
7: Introduce some festive accessories.
Oftentimes, smaller details and elements can cheer up your space. In addition to the example above of adding a quirky piece of furniture, you can also add an accessory or two that sneaks up from behind and surprises you with its wit or humorous sensibility. For instance, placing a Fornasetti plate on your wall. Even a funny Dachshund stool at the end of your couch on which to rest your weary feet can be a real mood-booster. Or simply add a single whimsical, decorative pillow or two to your couch! Alternately, try pulling the unusual little cabinet knob that sits upon a kitchen door.
(Courtesy of Scully & Scully)
8: Place cheerful artwork on your wall
It doesn't have to be expensive, it just has to be pleasant or cheerful images of places, people, colors or things you like. Depressing art tends to make you feel depressed, but images of funny or pretty subjects will light up your day. Of course what makes one cheerful or depressed is a personal issue. (Though studies have shown that art placed in hospitals has beneficial effects for patient health and that the style can be significant. Landscapes have been shown to produce calming feelings while abstract pieces often increase anxiety.) Your own individual reaction to each work of art will let you know how you feel about it. Only you know what makes you happy! Generally, images that remind you of pleasant experiences (paintings of parks or the sea) are positive influences. Keep in mind that whatever you choose to put on your walls should enhance and not compete with the aesthetics of your home décor. If your living room is composed of mostly slate blues and grays, adding a Kelly green piece might not work. Make sure there is a consistency between effect and style when selecting art pieces.
(Photo by Phillip Ennis)
9: Maintain a clean and organized home.
Neatness gives a strong sense of structure and order. If your day has been chaotic, returning to a neat and clean place can put things in reverse. For example, coming home to piles of papers scattered throughout your home tends to add to a more confused environment, unless those piles are purposely planned to add to the aesthetics of your room, such as a selection of books. Returning to a clean home is like returning home to a clean slate - it is a fresh start, like leaving the day's chaos behind. Insofar as the overall design of your home is concerned; implementing the idea that "less is more" is ideal. Simplicity is key. Too many items clutters both the home and your state of mind. Here's apartment therapy's take on it:
"We recently unexpectedly stopped by the home of a friend we hadn't seen in a long time. We didn't need them to tell us that they were in the middle of a tumultuous time in their life. We saw their home. This wasn't the chaotic mess of someone who might have left the house in a hurry that morning. We got the impression of someone who was in the midst of an unsettling time, who'd yet to make peace with their new circumstances...
A healthy home is not one full of the latest furnishings or decorated by the current hot designer. It's a home that says, "welcome. I am taken care of, can I take care of you?" There's a place to sit, a place to put your jacket or a bag, clean towels and extra toilet paper in the bathroom, and a clean glass to offer a visitor a glass of water. When you start to care about your home, it's a sign you're starting to care about yourself; the health of one begets the health of the other. Check the health of your home. What is it trying to tell you?'
Designing your home carefully can help to avoid clutter by focusing on a few, key accent pieces rather than unnecessary accessories. A well-crafted organization plan will free up your home - and your mind.
(Photo by David Estreich)
10: Light it up.
Dark spaces tend to evoke somber feelings, while brightly lit spaces make one feel positive and cheerful. There are several ways in which to make your home feel lighter and brighter. The first is to turn your lights on. The second is to make sure that when you turn on your lights, the bulb has ample wattage. For instance, if your lamp can take a 100 watt bulb, but you only have a 40 watt in it, the light emitted from the lamp will be weak. Turn on your lights with higher wattage bulbs. The third way of making your home look brighter is to use appropriate and beautiful window treatments that allow the sun's light to stream in. Another option is to capture, perhaps double, the light coming in with the help of mirrors that are situated across from the windows. Even a mirror that is located opposite a pair of sconces will make the room look brighter, as it doubles the reflection of light from across the room. Make the most of your home's natural light by selecting beautiful window treatments that allow the sun to stream in. Even if your space is windowless, there are many options for creating a more open space. Filling your space with a selection of bright burning scones and well-appointed lamps can create a seemingly subtle change that has tremendous potential to lift your mood.
(Photo by David Estreich)
Okay, this tip may not relate directly to interior design, but we couldn't resist! Returning home to unconditional love from "man's best friend" is a sure fire way to feel great when you come home!
(Photo by Gail Green)
Everyone wants a warm and welcoming home, a place where they can feel good about themselves. The above pointers help you achieve some of those feelings by adding cheer and serenity to your home.
For even more mood boosting tips for the Winter Months, in particular, see our related piece "Winter Interior Design Tips with Gail Green."