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- Countertop clutter, color palettes, and lighting can all influence anxiety and overall mood, especially as we’re all spending the majority of our time at home these days.
- Inexpensive swaps like a softer light bulb or reorganizing your shelves can go far in helping you unwind and de-stress.
- We tapped interior designers and licensed mental health experts for the easiest and most impactful changes you can make to create more calm in a room.
While I’ve always considered my home a true haven where the sweatpants come on and I can truly unwind, it wasn’t until I met my partner that “home” took on another meaning. Originally from Denmark, he grew up in a household that regularly practiced hygge, a Danish term that describes a way of living. This includes creating a cozy, relaxed home full of chunky blankets and comfortable seating areas, and something that celebrates togetherness.
Though hygge has been part of his culture for centuries, 2020 has more Americans rethinking the atmosphere their home provides. After all, when we’re under the same roof and surrounded by the same four walls all day, every day, it’s natural to want to upgrade your space. And as we continue managing the coldest season of the year, having a warm, inviting, and calm home may help you get through the darkest days (literally).
The keyword to focus on here is ‘calm’ — in a time where everything around us feels uncertain, this becomes a crucial theme to carry throughout every room. New York City-based clinical psychologist, Dr. Gladys Frankel, Ph.D., told Insider that in this unique environment with unusual stressors, we need our space to feel like an oasis, a vacation, and a spa for our mind and body. This improves our mental health, fights anxiety, and gives us a kind of comfort we may not currently be able to receive from our friends and family.
Elliot March, co-founder of March and White Design in London, told Insider the first step to make a space more calming is to go through a soul-searching exercise and define what ‘calm’ means to you, your family, your partner, or your roommate. Everyone values different things — some need a clutter-free area while others value framed photos of people they love.
“Traditional and cozy may feel soothing for one person, while minimalist and clean could work for another,” March said. “There’s no right or wrong, and these moods can, and should, be layered to add authenticity.”
The next step is to decide what kind of changes feel realistic to make. In an ideal world, you’d have a spacious house with different rooms to work and relax in, and an extensive budget (with endless mental bandwidth) to redesign whatever room isn’t delivering the calm vibes you seek.
The reality is that many of us live in small spaces or without the budget to do a full (or even partial) overhaul. That’s why interior designer, Lisa Queen, suggests starting with one corner and allowing it to embrace the calmness and comfort you desire.
“There might be a neglected corner, niche, or room in your home that would make the perfect spot for meditation, reading, or something else,” Queen told Insider. “Oftentimes, a spare bedroom or a living room has seldom-used space that can be transformed into a grounding reprieve.”
Whether you’re turning the broom closet into your cozy corner or overhauling your entire bedroom to help lower your anxiety, the approach is the same: Add a few elements that help you unwind like on an oversized chair, a chunky throw blanket, a soft pillow, a spot for your tea (or wine), mood lighting, or even just a candle.
Upping the calm-factor of your space doesn’t have to be expensive, either, and in some cases, it can actually be free. Strategically-chosen small gadgets and simply rearranging your existing furniture can go a long way to making your current space feel calmer and more inviting and comforting.
Below, I’ve outlined nine ways to create more calm in your home, whether you’re using this room to work, play, workout, eat, entertain, unwind, or, let’s be real, all of the above at some point in the day.
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