Creating calmer interiors – and I’m talking about your home’s interior and your interior – doesn’t have to mean sending the kids to boarding school or firing your SO and moving to a house or apartment that will actually contain the detritus of day-to-day living. Not that those things won’t necessarily help, but I prefer to think of them as last resorts. Steps better taken after trying things like decluttering your living room and creating more space through trickery. Not that there’s anything wrong with a frenetic interior, of course, or a shabby one, if that’s what you’re into. But for some people – particularly people whose lives are filled with stress and chaos – home needs to be an oasis.
1. Choose calming colors for every room in your home, including your home office if you have one. Color affects mood, so stay away from colors that make you feel awake and energized, but don’t make the opposite mistake and go for those that make you feel sluggish or depressed. You could look at a color therapy chart to find the most calming hues, but only you know what colors make you feel serene, relaxed, and happy. For some, that might mean a bright turquoise or lemon, while for others, it could mean a darkish sea foam green. This is where those sample tins of paint come in handy. Put a square of your favorite by your bed – how does seeing it in the morning make you feel? How about at night?
2. Make every room of your home inviting to promote feelings of calm. Ever notice that people at parties will often congregate in the kitchen? It’s because people feel comfortable and nurtured where the food is. How can you make the rest of your home as inviting as the kitchen? First, choose comfortable furniture that looks good but doesn’t put out a ‘no touching’ vibe. Furniture should be touchable – and while it might be unseemly to throw oneself onto a couch or chair, the most calming furniture is the kind you can relax into. Second, give yourself something aesthetically pleasing to admire. Do you have a painting or accessory that you find peaceful? Or an heirloom that brings to mind happy thoughts of your favorite relatives? Display them where you need hard-hitting mood elevators.
3. Go all-natural, with materials and textiles that Mother Nature created – especially in the bathroom and in the bedroom. There’s just something about the real stuff that is conducive to letting go of stress. Things that come to mind are a durable seagrass rug or a rush ottoman, lovely linen curtains or pillows, lots of natural wood or wicker, and hey, maybe even plenty of windows that give you views of actual nature if you’re lucky enough to have some right outside of your front door. In the bathroom, a bamboo bath mat is so much nicer underfoot than your standard fuzzy one.
4. Keep surfaces clutter free, because seeing clutter all around you is guaranteed to interfere with your ability to achieve serenity. That’s not to say you have to keep all of your surfaces free of everything except for lamps and whatever book you’re reading at the moment. Just make sure that everything that’s on top of your night stand, dressers, side tables, coffee table, etc. is either beautiful to look at or something you want easy access to in the immediate future or all the time. In other words, no letting papers build up or dumping the contents of your pockets onto the kitchen counter every day after work (unless you clean it up before bedtime).
5. Think simple! A lot of people are put off by the idea of minimalism, since most of us feel much more comfortable when we’ve built ourselves cocoons of *stuff*. And voluntary simplicity still sounds so fadish, even though it’s completely mainstream by this point. I’m not suggesting that you throw out all your stuff save for your bed and one chair and a desk, but rather that you shouldn’t feel compelled to fill every last inch of your home with furniture and carpets and decorative items just because you feel like it’s the right thing to do. If you love that look – think a controlled chaos of comfort – then fabu. But more people than not find it’s hard to feel calm in a space when there’s just too much going on in it.