By Tamra Booth, Keeeps
Between work commitments and unpredictable weather in the UK, the average Brit spends 90% of their time indoors. As I am sat in the office, with woolly jumper on, staring out at the torrential rain, I am not surprised at this. With an average of 22 hours a day spent indoors, it is essential that your home is a place that makes you feel calm, safe and secure.
So, thinking about the age-old question, “what makes a house a home?”. A “home” is somewhere that provides comfort, and meaningful objects provide emotional security by making us feel relaxed and grounded. We are thinking a big snug sofa which makes us feel embraced, a cosy, well-dressed bed to climb into at night with soft sheets and fluffy pillows, or a soft shaggy rug designed for us to dig our toes into. It must also be stylish and beautiful, but a “home” is created when it reflects you, your tastes and personality, not just the latest trends.
Connections are what ultimately transform a house to a home. Do you have a home that you feel strong connections to? Where you spent many happy summers as a child? Where you lived in your twenties? Does the smell of cake baking in the oven, an unusual ornament, a flowery fabric, take you back to that place and make you feel good? Connections to places through memories, photographs and stories can fill you with such warmth and happiness.
Accessories and furniture that build true connections are often unique and handmade, often with little flaws and with stories of their own. Ordinary, mass-produced items are not particularly memorable because they are so common and can be found anywhere. It’s the unique, quirky, tactile items that stir memories and that fuzzy feeling inside.
Now we know what makes a home special, here are the top 5 easy and cost-effective ways to create a relaxing home which soothes your mind, body and soul:
If your house is cluttered, this can seriously impact the style, comfort and connection with your home and can cause you to fall out of love with it.
Various studies have indicated that “clutter can make it difficult to focus on a particular task” because our brains are so overwhelmed by distractions, leaving us feeling unproductive, and potentially anxious and stressed. My dad used to always say “Tidy room, tidy mind” which at the time, I thought was just annoying, but as an adult, I totally understand. Cleaning, tidying and decluttering enables you to take control of your environment and feel a sense of pride and achievement.
Marie Kondo, a.k.a the organisation queen, recommends you “keep what brings you joy and get rid of everything else”. Here are a few tips to get you decluttered:
- Fold up any clothing you are not ready to part with yet in a charity bag, put it in a cupboard out of sight, and set an alarm for 3 months’ time. If you have not thought about or missed those clothes when the alarm goes off, they are ready to be donated.
- Tackling a whole room is a huge undertaking, so focus on areas or categories, for example, decluttering your desk or an airing cupboard.
- Pencil in 5-15 minutes a day to do a 'mini declutter'. Go through that pile of paperwork that you keep walking past, clean out a drawer or sideboard, or rearrange the lounge furniture. Doing one job will make you feel like you have achieved something. As soon as you have finished work is a good time, so once it is done, you can sit down, relax and admire your work.
2. Embrace Scandi Minimalism
Once you have decluttered, it is really important (for you, your home and the environment) to resist the urge to buy more stuff. Minimalist designs work on “less is more” which helps avoid the clutter and create a timeless home which is easy to maintain.
Scandi minimalism has a soft approach and really focuses on comfort, or “Hygge”, inviting a sense of warmth and cosiness  by using organic, eco-friendly materials i.e. hemp rugs, woven baskets, curved wooden chairs, and ceramics in natural and white glazes, as opposed to stainless steel, chrome and lacquered plastics which are often used in “traditional minimalism” .
Scandinavian minimalism is about combining simplicity and practicality to the home, and focuses on buying quality, buying little and making sure each object has an impact. It reinforces the importance of curating your home at your own pace. It is not a race to find the perfect piece and sometimes this will take time but it’s all about buying quality items that you will keep forever and that will have a purpose in your space. Often, the best place to find these hidden treasures are at artisan fairs, makers' markets, independent shops and gorgeous boutiques. The thrill of finding a unique and treasured homeware item cannot be beaten!
At Keeeps, we love this concept, as we focus on practical ceramic homeware which all have a specific purpose and use, whilst being timelessly beautiful. Of course, plastic is a complete no-go, but pottery (a product of the earth) fits perfectly with the Scandi vibe. We curate pottery from UK potters to bring individualism and unique touches to your home. Our special homeware is intended to last a lifetime and, as Marie Kondo puts it, bring you joy.
3. Invite in Nature
It is now widely known that “spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing” . As most of us spend an average of 22 hours a day inside, we need to focus our efforts on inviting nature into our homes and treating the outdoor spaces we do have, whether this is a courtyard or balcony, as an extension to our homes.
Luckily, we are a nation obsessed with houseplants! So much so that there are companies, like Bloombox and Barry’s Cactus Club, that offer a houseplant subscription service, so you can add to your indoor jungle without leaving your home. For some home inspiration, our favourite healthy plants are the Snake Plant (indestructible and “the most oxygen producing indoor plant”), the Spider Plant (pet-friendly, makes a beautiful hanging plant, and a toxin-eliminator) and Aloe Vera (good for the skin, digestive system, hair and for purifying air).
Finally, plants can (and should) be mixed with great interior design via the plant pot you choose – ceramic and handmade of course! Whether it be a hanging plant pot, colourful pot to add a pop of colour to the room, or a neutral textured beauty to make the plant itself shine.
4. Let there be light
When it comes to light, consider both natural and indoor lighting.
Natural light has a vast amount of health benefits including a boost in vitamin D, helps prevent seasonal depression and improves quality of sleep.
The easiest way to ensure you are making the most of the natural light available to you is completely free, just make sure your windows are not blocked in any way. Simply rearrange your furniture or swap heavy curtains for lighter voiles. If you love to read, create a sunny reading nook in that spot. Have a play around with the feng shui of the room until you find something that works.
Indoor lighting is just as important with Shelley Jackson Interiors calling it, “the jewellery of your home”. Indoor lighting can completely change a room and how we feel about it, bringing warmth, luxury, and making it feel super cosy. Whilst new light fittings can be an investment, I can confirm (having just upgraded myself) it is a complete game changer and worth the cost. My handmade porcelain pendant lampshades have a beautiful transparent quality to them that soften the light and create the most calming atmosphere.
An inexpensive way of adding further comfort to a room is to install some mood lighting by way of a dimmer switch – go from a bright and airy breakfast into a romantic dinner setting, all in the twist of a switch.
5. Plan around how you want to feel, not just how you want it to look
When curating your home, think about how you want each room to feel and how you want to use it before you make any décor decisions. Create a simple mood board on PowerPoint to ensure you make special, meaningful and tactile choices for your home. It is not as hard as it sounds, just cut and paste your ideas from Pinterest and Google Images onto your PowerPoint slides and away you go!
Colour is a huge decision because it helps create a feeling, affects your mood and, surprisingly, has some health benefits too. For example:
- Blue is calming and helps you feel relaxed and serene, perfect for rooms where you want to rest. It helps to lower blood pressure and clear the mind.
- Yellow creates warmth and energy and when it catches the sunlight gives a happy and lively feeling; and
- Green helps to reduce anxiety and is very restful for the eyes making it a great colour for a home office where stress levels may run slightly higher.
Finally, do not forget to make your spaces fun and sociable. Us humans are sociable by nature and “interacting with others boosts feelings of well-being and decreases feelings of depression, boost your brain health and lower your risk of dementia". We need to be having our favourite people over more often.
Squishy sofas, plumped cushions, tactile accessories, cable knit blankets, all create a comfy room that no one will want to leave. A coffee table and nest of tables are great ideas to ensure there is space for drinks and nibbles and if you’re feeling fun (and thirsty), a drinks trolley or cocktail cabinet can be a great addition. Of course sharing food is the ultimate crowd pleaser, so a gorgeous set of handmade pottery dip bowls, tapas dishes or a some unique plates are the perfect way to add individuality and style to your serene space, and are guaranteed to create a talking point at your next gathering.
We truly hope we have provided you with some meaningful and useful tips to make your home a unique, special and sociable sanctuary that soothes your soul and calms your mind.