Everyone has different tastes, likes and dislikes about home decor. But one thing most people want more of when improving their home environment is comfort and relaxation. Creating a comfortable home goes beyond how a space looks and focuses on how the space feels.
Feng Shui is a centuries old environmental system that studies the environment and how it affects people. By utilizing some simple basic feng shui principles when designing our home environments we can turn any space into a place that nurtures, inspires and rejuvenates our bodies, minds, and spirits.
In my best-selling book Feng Shui that Makes Sense; Easy Ways to Create a Home that FEELS as Good as it Looks I go into great detail on how feng shui works to lesson stress and discomfort in our built environments. When we minimize environmental stress, we create a space that supports our health and well-being, making it easier to experience happiness and joy in our daily life.
Here are ten quick tips that you can apply to your home in order to make it feel more relaxing and rejuvenating. I suggest that you take inventory of each room in your home and see how these suggestions can help you bring a greater sense of peace and calm into your surroundings.
1. Get rid of Clutter Clutter is a subjective term and people vary greatly on what they define as “clutter”. Some people feel more relaxed in a room with minimal items while others find a collection of familiar objects comforting. But no matter how many items you choose or choose not to live with, there are basic guidelines when it comes to what constitutes clutter.
Clutter is anything you don’t want, love, need, or use. One of my students years ago aptly defined clutter as “postponed decisions”. The stack of magazines you haven’t gotten around to reading, the collection of objects from long ago that have lost their meaning and luster, the jumble of children’s toys scattered around a room, papers and bills strewn across the kitchen table…you get the idea. These are items that create stress in our lives and need to be delt with in order to create a space that feels comfortable and relaxing.
2. Reduce Visual Stimulation Whatever your eye sees, your brain processes as information. The more visual stimulation in a room, the less relaxing the space becomes. Therefore choose to keep items that need to be stored in cabinets or closets with solid doors rather than open shelving. CDs, children’s books and toys, papers, office supplies, etc. should all be kept organized and out of sight. If you enjoy displaying knickknacks and other personal items, be sure to group “like” things together by color or type (blue objects grouped together, gold objects grouped together, etc). This will make the room feel much calmer and more organized than if the items are placed around the room randomly.
3. Add Texture Frequently people who enjoy a minimalist look in their home will complain that their home feels “cold”. This is because too many hard, smooth surfaces (glass, tile, hardwood, leather, mirrors, large windows) in a space do not provide a feeling of warmth or comfort. In order for us to feel relaxed in a room with a lot of hard, smooth surfaces we must balance the room with texture (more about this topic is in my book). Textiles, area rugs, pillows, drapes, and baskets are all examples of ways to bring more texture into a space.
4. Include Materials and Images from Nature Studies by environmental psychologists prove that people are soothed by images and materials from nature. Opt for items made from natural materials rather than synthetic. Plants, flowers, water features, wood furnishings and stone accents all contribute to bringing the natural world inside, thus creating a more peaceful, nurturing environment.
5. Consider Lighting Options Try to use full-spectrum lighting when possible (especially in kitchens, bathrooms, and work spaces). These lights mimic the natural light spectrum and help improve the functioning of our endocrine system, in turn influencing mood and overall health. Use dimmer switches in rooms when you want to change the ambiance in a room. Candle light is relaxing and romantic, but not always safe. Battery-operated candles can provide the same feeling without the danger and risk of fire. I use several battery-operated candles that come with automatic timers in my fireplace. Every evening the candles turn on automatically for five hours, creating a beautiful, soft feeling in the room. The added benefit is that they are safe, environmentally friendly and energy-efficient.
6. Eliminate Synthetic Air Fresheners There is a growing body of evidence supporting the theory that artificial scents including air fresheners, candles, plug-in devices and reed diffusers have a negative impact on health. Just Google “artificial scent and health” and you’ll find a ton of research and information. If you enjoy scent in your home, use therapeutic-grade essential oils. They not only smell good, but contribute to your health and well-being by being anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-bacterial. Note: not all essential oils are created equally. The ones I use and recommend can be found by clicking here.
7. Choose Curves rather than Corners One of the things we talk about most in feng shui is avoiding sharp points and corners. Right angles and straight lines don’t exist in nature. Additionally, items that point towards us make us feel defensive. When choosing furniture, select rounded corners rather than sharp ones. This concept applies to plants too. Plants with round, soft leaves make a room feel more relaxing than ones with sharp points.
8. Live only with Items that you Love Far too often we buy furniture, artwork, rugs, pillows, bedspreads and other decor items without really liking them. They might be uncomfortable or don’t really appeal to our sense of color, design, or style. This is like buying a pair of shoes in the store that “kind of” hurt your feet right from the start. Over time the feeling will only get worse and you’ll regret the purchase. It’s better to live without something until you find an item that pleases you rather than settling for something else just to fill a space. This concept also applies to items people have given you. Just because it was a gift does NOT obligate you to display it. It’s your home, and you should never live with anything that does not please you or have a positive association for you.
9. Earth Tones are Calming Color studies show that when the country is experiencing economic success, the general color palette of the country becomes bolder (think 50’s pink and turquoise and the jewel tones of the 80’s). When the economy is not doing so well the palette turns towards earth tones (browns and tans). This is because earth tones promote feelings of comfort and safety. If you have a room painted a bright, bold, or cool color and you want the room to feel “cozier”, paint the walls a neutral earth tone and feel the difference.
10. Pay Attention to your Artwork Often we get so used to our homes that we no longer notice the images that we’ve chosen to surround ourselves. Go through the rooms in your home and really look at what you’ve hung on the walls. What kind of emotions or messages do the paintings and pictures create in you? Are the feelings positive or negative? Whether we notice them or not, images are always influencing us on a subliminal level. In fact they often mirror things that are going on in our lives (for example, single women often choose to have images of single women decorating their walls). With this in mind, evaluate your art choices and determine whether or not those visual images are pleasing, positive, and meaningful. If not, it’s time for some new ones. You can get an abundance of artwork ideas on sites like art.com. Make sure that the images you choose reflect the life you want to live.
These are just a few tips for creating a more restful home environment. For more information and ideas, pick up a copy of my book, Feng Shui that Makes Sense. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make your home feel as good as it looks!