How to make your home a happier space
I am a huge believer that your environment has the power to affect your mood and attitude. As you know, I'm an advocate for self-care and this is a super important factor that can reap huge benefits for your well-being. There are so many small things you can do to your home to make it a happier, brighter space that will give you a little boost when you need it. They don't need to be expensive additions / changes at all, often, less is more. It's important to recognise how you're currently feeling and how you want to feel in your home in order to make the necessary changes so I would suggest getting a notepad and writing your thoughts down now as we go through my points...
Greenery! It's pretty, fresh, clean and has proven effects to improve your mood. Many people state that indoor plants help productivity, clear your mind and reduce stress. Plants are also great for our health as they clean the air around us. Something you might not have thought of is that certain plants suit certain spaces better. Particular plants need more sunlight, a certain temperature etc so you need to think practically in order to maximise your plants well-being and yours. You want to find a space where your plant will receive maximum love and satisfaction because then, watching it bloom will make you feel 10x better than watching it try to survive. It's super easy to google what plant will bloom best in any room of your house.
But here's a brief explanation for you... (taken from my book Happy by Design by Victoria Harrison).
1) Areca palm - best for open plan houses or a room with lots of sunlight like a living room with French doors.
2) Lady palm - best for a small space and beginner plant owners because it's easy to maintain.
3) Bamboo palm - this can grow quite big so it's perfect if you want a lil indoor garden.
4) English ivy - I love trailing plant, it's great for indoor hanging baskets or propped on shelves if you don't have much space.
5) Peace lily - this plant loves the warmth and tends to live in bathrooms.
Yes, plants are super effective for our health but let's be honest, they're just so damn pretty and aesthetic too. Every Pinterest board and home decor shop has an array of different plant pots and ideas to create a pretty space of plants rather than sticking a plant on your windowsill for the sake of it - let's actually make an effort here! Here are some ideas:
1) Group them together - get 3-5 plants of different heights, sizes and leaf types to place in a combination on a shelf, bedside table or coffee table. Have a play around until you find a combo that pleases you. Don't be afraid to layer and mix.
2) Place them either side - create something symmetrical like two plants either side of a mirror, door, bed or on your desk so you're surrounded by greenery.
3) Hang them - I have a hanging ivy above my bed and it reminds me to look up and maximise the space around me.
4) Dot them around - I love have little boosters dotted around the house between books or little trinkets.
5) Remember, they don't have to be green plants as such - try a flowering plant like an orchid or an anthurium to bring some colour and elegance to your bedside table or act as a centrepiece.
6) Make your own terrarium - a fun and creative project for mindfulness. A really simple way to bring some greenery into your house for minimum space and maintenance.
Some ideas from Pinterest....
You live in your home; you want to create a space that you look forward to and enjoy being in. Colours definitely have the power to brighten or dampen your mood. Simple terminology like yellow links to sunshine and feeling grey links to feeling a little down in the dumps shows that we do associate certain colours with certain things!
Colours can be a difficult one if you're renting or living in student accommodation but there are so many ways to bring some colour into your home without paint. Certain colours can make us feel different things, so you have to consider how you want to feel in each room of your house. Do you want to feel fresh, clean, cosy, happy, relaxed, intimate or calm? Here's a task for you - find a colour chart online and write down how each colour makes you feel. Then write down how you want to feel in each room of your house and match the two up! If you found that yellow made you feel happiest and you want your living room to make you feel happy then try incorporating that colour - you don't have to paint all the walls bright yellow, you could buy a couple of cushions or a vase or paint the chair legs yellow! Remember, you don't have to paint a whole room or even a whole wall in one colour - why not half a wall?
Think about the process in your home. When you first walk through your doors you want to see something inviting. Perhaps a beautiful bunch of flowers in your favourite vase or a piece of artwork that reminds you of your holiday to sunny Italy? There are so many little changes you can make to your home without breaking the bank or going to great lengths. That carpet you hate but can't afford to change - find a rug. Bored of your kitchen table - paint the legs. Your house is your own - don't worry about trends or what other people will think. Choose what makes you feel happy.
My favourite colours are pink, lilac, white, mint green and blue. I like bold patterns, colours and prints mixed with minimalism. I mostly like to feel cosy, bright and happy in my home. Here's a sneak peak of my Pinterest decor board linked to the points I've made...
A clutter, untidy, trinket filled house can often lead to a hectic brain. Most organised, productive people will tell you that they have a tidy, green, clean living / working space. I can't relax in a messy house! I try to tidy my room before leaving the house to get it over and done with so I can just come home and relax. There is nothing worse than getting ready for a night out and leaving a heap of clothes and makeup on your bed to come home to when you just want to crawl under the sheets and sleep.
I like to have a space for everything, even the little things. It will make your life so much easier I promise you. Always have a set place for your keys, phone, books etc so that you have a set dedicated space. It looks more pleasing to the eye and it's less of a hassle when you're trying to find something.
I'm quite bad at hoarding stuff. I have a dozen memory boxes because I'm sentimental and like to keep things but sometimes, it's just not necessary. I also have a draw of random wires, notepads, old letters and paperwork, and odd bits that I really don't need but have 'just in case'. This weekend, this is your task - get rid of all the things you don't need / want that are taking up unnecessary space and cluttering your home - including clothes! I know it's really hard to let go of clothes but try and get rid of 5 items.
I have certain areas that I like to keep minimum and clear. I find that clutter and lots of stuff often makes me feel anxious and hinder my sleep. If you're finding this, I would suggest minimising the amount of stuff you have on show. My bedside table, the bench at the end of my bed and my dressing table are key pieces of furniture I like to keep organised. Naturally, we shove random bits on our bedside table because its closest to our bed and we keep our phones, water, bobby pins, a book we've been reading, the odd earring and candle lying about. When I notice this, I give it a little spruce up and find the right place for those bits instead. I have my books piled up neatly, a candle and a little wooden board (but a tray would work too) for my key bits. My earrings and hairbands all belong in little jars / dishes.
I also have a lot of skin care / bathroom essentials / self-care type of products that I organise. I keep my essentials and products that I use every day in a little bag that I can bring along to the bathroom or to Max's house. The rest of the odd bits that I use occasionally belong in a basket under my desk.
Morning / bedtime routine
Personally, sleep is a huge factor that dictates my well-being, health and happiness. I need a lot of sleep, and I'm not going to apologise to those early risers reading this. A calming bedtime routine often helps my experience and yes, our home can help us. Light, clutter, temperature, our habits and colour can ruin our sleeping pattern. I have white curtains in my bedroom that make it difficult to sleep or lie in when the sunshine or a streetlamp is shining. Lighting such as a soft bulb, a candle, and fairy lights create a cosier setup that make me feel relaxed and ready to sleep. I also like to put some lavender oil or relaxing oil on my wrists to sooth me. We've all heard this one - no tech before bed! I suck at this and spend a lot of time on my phone looking at pretty pictures, reading funny tweets, watching Netflix or writing a blog post which don't necessarily hinder my mood, but they can make it difficult to sleep. I'm trying to get into a habit of reading or journaling before bed instead which I do sometimes, but not often enough.
Other habits to include into your routine are:
1) To do list / journal - if you're worried or anxious about something try writing it down to relieve your mind of the weight and write down solutions to fix it. Figuring out your plan for tomorrow will help you feel more organised too.
2) Unwind - take a bath, stretch, do some yoga, go for a walk, listen to an audio book or podcast, cleanse your skin. Whatever it is, create a little go-to routine.
Similar to colours, we want to feel certain moods in certain rooms and different smells can achieve this. Scents can give us energy, uplift our moods, enhance certain feelings. You can totally craft it to your own unique taste too - perhaps you have certain scents that make you remember certain places or points in your life that make you happy or you'd rather avoid. I can strongly remember the citrus scents of Italy and the Amalfi coast which make me feel warm, fuzzy and happy. By putting that scent in my home, I am likely to feel that way too.
There are certain scents already associated with moods. Lavender is often used in baths or bedrooms because it makes you sleepy and relaxed. But herbs and citrus fruits like grapefruit and rosemary are supposed to make you feel energised and refreshed. Christmas is often associated with orange, cinnamon and ginger so perhaps if you want your home to feel more wintery, cosy and festive you could incorporate these scents into you home.
Personally, I enjoy fresh green scents. I like candles that make me feel clear, refreshed and energised so I tend to buy candles that smell like greenhouses. I also love grapefruit and floral scents too.
Ways to incorporate scent into your home:
2) Flowers / plants
3) Diffusers - my favourite way to achieve scents at home is a diffuser that releases oils into the room. On average they cost about £50 but then you can experiment with so many different oils depending on the season and how you want to feel.
The process of choosing flowers is incredibly mindful. Choosing the colours and the right spot in your home is therapeutic and a fun way to get creative. I use different vases and try to place my bunch in a new spot every time. I also like to buy a couple of different bunches to fit together. I like to spot a bunch of flowers as soon as I walk into a room because it sets the scene and I instantly pick up on the scent and vibrance. On a desk, bedside table and a centrepiece on a table are my favourite spots. Luckily, my mum collects jugs so I have plenty to choose from - if you alternate things around your house it can transform a room and feel like you've made a big change without spending any money. You can also up-cycle old jars, bottles and cans with flowers - just look on Pinterest for lots of ideas.
Maximise daylight! The more daylight, the happier I feel. Your home will feel so much bigger and brighter and that should improve your mood and well-being.
Cosiness in Winter
As the seasons change you might have to adapt your home for your well-being. In the winter we crave cosy nights cuddled up in blankets and warmth so perhaps the previous points won't work at this time to make your home happier. To make your home cosier I suggest layering and using warm neutral colours - nothing too harsh. Think materials - use soft cushions, rugs, thick blankets and throws and enamel coffee mugs. Add multiple pillows and throws to your bed and sofa to quickly grab when you get cold, but that's no excuse to get messy - have a smart storage space or dedicated area to put your blankets away. The evenings get dark earlier so you may need a touch of soft light so add another lamp or a string of fairy lights - but make sure to use warm-toned lightbulbs. Invest in multiple candles too! You can find loads of Christmas scents around this time which will make you feel warm and cosy.
I know I said no clutter but now might be a good time to add a few trinkets around the house. Find a pretty dish to put some nuts or chocolate, make your own potpourri or string Christmas cards above your fireplace.
I hope these little tips encourage you to make some changes to your home that will boost your happiness and well-being because we all need our own space to come home to that makes us feel good and have that 'ahhh I'm home' moment after a long day.