Over the past few months, we’ve likely all spent more time at home than ever before, prompting a number of changes to our abodes to better accommodate our new lifestyles. For us, initially, many of these transformations focused on function—rearranging rooms to house home offices, setting up areas for classes held via Zoom—but it’s also important to create a place of calm. Recently, we asked Marie Flanigan of Marie Flanigan Interiors in Houston, Texas, Hallie Thomas of Design Vim in Boise, Idaho, and Monica Rissler of Monica Rissler Interior Design in Sarasota, Florida, for their advice on how to make our homes feel like havens that are suited to our needs, as well as soothing, uplifting, and inspiring. Read on for tips that truly don’t require a lot of heavy lifting, allowing you make small but impactful changes without adding a lot of stress in the process.
Clear out clutter. All of our experts agree that the first step in creating a more relaxing environment is to declutter your spaces. According to Flanigan, it’s important to remember a room’s functionality affects your enjoyment of the space just as much as its beauty. “Studies show that physical clutter can affect mental clarity, so now is the time to get organized,” she says. Thomas seconds that statement, noting that we have a hard time relaxing in rooms that are messy or contain an excessive amount of unnecessary items. Consider donating anything that’s rarely used, and for those you plan to keep, utilize handy yet aesthetically pleasing organizational tools, such as trays, wicker baskets, and lucite bins.
Embrace the transformational power of color. Colors have a powerful impact on your mood and can be incorporated in a number of ways, from accessories to all four walls. Rissler suggests opting for pops of color that stimulate mood, whether through artwork, sculpture, throw pillows, or paint. In terms of hues that evoke a haven-like feel, “Blue, green, and soft paint colors can calm your mind, lower your blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and even slow your heart rate,” Thomas says.
Spend some time rearranging. Before discarding furniture and purchasing new items for your home, try to see your pieces in a new light, layout, and location. “Simply altering the layout of a room can make a dramatic difference,” Flanigan says. Both Rissler and Flanigan suggest orienting your rooms around windows to maximize the enjoyment of natural light. Additionally, you can “borrow” items from one room to complete another. For example, Flanigan says that neutral throw pillows and rugs can be easily swamped from one room to the next.
Surround yourself with what you love. Looking at items you love is an instant mood lifter, says Flanigan, so don’t hesitate to feature your favorite decorative pieces prominently in the rooms where you spend the majority of your time. If you’re currently spending hours on end in your home office, then rehang your favorite piece of art over your desk for inspiration. If you’re clocking more hours in the kitchen, pull your grandmother’s antique china collection out of the cupboard and put it on display. Rissler agrees that when you utilize beloved personal items, like family photos, souvenirs from traveling, or a family heirloom, you lend meaning to your space.
Add life. In addition to improving air quality, indoor plants or flowers make any space feel fresh and vibrant. “Living things improve your mental and physical wellbeing in ways you probably didn’t even realize,” Thomas says. Plus, bringing the outdoors in is an easy way to instantly give a room a boost.
Image courtesy of Marie Flanigan Interiors. TSG Tip 368 from Marie Flanigan of Marie Flanigan Interiors in Houston, Texas; Hallie Thomas of Design Vim in Boise, Idaho; and Monica Rissler of Monica Rissler Interior Design in Sarasota, Florida. Marie Flanigan Interiors is featured in The Scout Guide Houston, Design Vim is featured in The Scout Guide Boise, and Monica Rissler Interior Design is featured in The Scout Guide Sarasota—Anna Maria Island to Boca Grande.