Life gets stressful, and you need somewhere you can feel fully relaxed — a shelter from the storms of work and the outside world. That’s what your home is supposed to be but, often, you walk through your door and are confronted by even more work. Piles of laundry, a sink full of dirty dishes, toys strewn around the room… Ugh. Your home is starting to feel more ‘zoo’ than ‘zen’.
We’ve just moved into our new house here in the States and, because we got to start with a clean slate, I’ve been determined to keep the clutter at bay. (Of course, our shipping container hasn’t arrived just yet so I may have a struggle on my hands.) Here are some simple ways I’ve found to ensure my home is more ‘calm oasis’ than ‘chaos’.
10 Simple Steps To Turn Your Home Into A Haven
1. Clear the clutter
You can’t waste time cleaning what you don’t have, and it’s not an eyesore if it’s not there. If you want, you can go at the decluttering hammer and tongs, tossing stuff like there’s no tomorrow, or you can simply notice things as you go about your day and remove one thing at a time. (Personally, I tend to do a mix of both.) Take a long, hard look at all the items you’re not using or enjoying, and free yourself from them once and for all.
For more, watch my video on 10 things to declutter from your home today:
2. Leave some space
I know, I know, flat surfaces are basically inviting you to set something down on them but, whenever possible, keep them clear. And yes, bookcases are begging to be stuffed to bulging, but try to leave some breathing space around items.
I’ve noticed this tendency in myself too — the feeling that something needs to be “filled up”. Our new home is about three times larger than our old one, and it would be really easy to slip into the mentality that, because we have the space, we should fill it. The reality is, though, that things usually look better when they’re uncrowded, when they’re allowed to stand out and be the star of the show.
3. Make your bed every morning
It should really only take you a few seconds to straighten your sheets and such each morning, and it makes a world of difference to your bedroom. It means you’ll start the day in a productive way (what’s better than achieving a quick win right off the bat?) and you’ll be more inclined to keep the rest of the space looking neat too. (Bye bye, floor-drobe.)
4. Nix the nigglers
You’re bound to have some niggling tasks around your house — a loose handle, a leaky tap, a broken door… These are the things that get pushed to the bottom of the priority pile because you’ve more pressing things to do. But all those little nuisances add up to major annoyances over time, so list all of them and have yourself a DIY day.
5. Display your prized possessions
You’re probably stashing a lot of your stuff behind closed doors, in basements, and up in attics, but some of it will be near and dear to your heart. Why store your favourite photos in a box when you could display them on a gallery wall? Why fold away your grandmother’s quilt when you could give it pride of place on your bed? You’re doing mementoes (and yourself) a disservice by storing them out of sight, so dust them off and let them bring some sunshine into your life each and every time you see them.
For more, watch my video on how to be curator of your own life:
6. Reset your space
Get into the habit of putting things away when you’re done with them. It’s much quicker and easier to tidy as you go than it is to put it off and then procrastinate when you’re faced with a big mess. Take a minute at the end of each task or chore (or even during them) to tidy away your things, and bask in the warm glow of a clean space. Bonus points for being able to find your keys because they’re exactly where they’re supposed to be.
7. Bring the outside in
Nature has a soothing effect on the soul, so spruce up your home with a few flowers and plants. Succulents are a good choice if, like me, you’re a notorious plant-killer. They have the added benefit of helping to cleanse and purify the air, removing toxins and pumping out lovely clean oxygen just for you.
If you can’t even keep a cactus alive, consider going fake. A lot of faux plants look just like the real deal. They won’t clean the air for you, but they’ll still add a comforting and colourful touch to your home.
8. Let there be light
During the day, no corner of your home should be dark unless you intend it to be. Throw open your curtains to let some sunshine in, and place lamps in gloomy corners. Also, it’s amazing the effect a few strategically placed candles can achieve. In short, don’t overlook the ability to create a positive, relaxing atmosphere with a little bit of light.
9. Steal from a hotel
No, not the tiny toiletries or the cosy robes, but the inviting vibe. Top hotels pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into making their rooms as comfortable as possible, so pay close attention to what they’re doing. Clean sheets on a freshly made bed, clear surfaces, just enough furniture and decoration to make it functional but not too fussy… Keep the hotel look in mind when creating your space, while also adding personal touches to make it your own.
I'm taking design inspiration from this gorgeous bathroom in the 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati:
10. Create a nook
Even in the most lively of homes, there should always be at least one space where you feel completely relaxed. For some, it’s their bed; for others, it’s an old armchair; and there are those who swear by a blanket fort. (F*ck yeah.)
No matter how “full” your home or how cramped your space, make it a priority to create a little corner for yourself where you can curl up and kiss the cares of the day away.
Your physical environment has such a huge impact on your mood. You can’t always control the outside world, but you have a huge amount of say when it comes to your personal space. It should be your fortress and your down comforter all in one, swaddling you in comfort and security.
Within the confines of your current home, imagine not just how you’d like the space to look but also how you’d like to feel in it, and then take small steps towards that vision. Tiny tweaks and changes can make a big difference, so don’t feel you need to completely remodel and redecorate when, really, adding a lamp or a throw, or moving your bed from one side of the room to the other, could be just the update your space needs.
Remember, it’s your home and you deserve to feel happy in it.
What’s your favourite spot in your home?