When you open the door to your home, do you breathe a sigh of relief? Or do you cringe at the pile of mail on the counter and the overstuffed closet where you hang your coat?
Our home should be our retreat from the world, where we feel calm and relaxed. So if that's not how you feel at home, it may be time to rethink your design or decor. To aid your quest for serenity, here are eight ways to set up a peaceful refuge at home.
1. Interview yourself
Everyone has a slightly different definition of what makes a peaceful home, so experts urge homeowners to start by asking a few personal questions, such as "Who am I?" and "What do I want from this space?"
"For example, if books are important to you and make you feel at peace, get a great bookshelf and organize them. But if the sight of all your books makes you feel stressed out and reminds you of cramming for exams, consider hiding them away in cabinets," suggests Drew Henry of Design Dudes.
Just keep in mind that a plethora of clutter isn't necessarily bad if those objects bring you joy. Julie Coraccio, a professional organizer with Reawaken Your Brilliance, is at peace with all the cat toys in her home.
"We're a cat family and are fostering them, and yes, their toys are everywhere, but the cats make me happy," she explains.
2. Consider the flow
A serene home is one that's easily navigated. If you find yourself tripping over the dog bed in the kitchen or struggling around a too-big couch to enter the den, you'll lose out on those Zen vibes.
"Think of the best traffic patterns for each room and then arrange furniture so it's easy to access and sit down," urges Karen Gray-Plaistedof Design Solutions KGP. Too much furniture or items that are too large can be draining, so pick and place your pieces carefully.
3. Serenity starts at your front door
Coming home at the end of the day should be painless. In other words, don't let your foyer become a catch-all for everyone's belongings! Make sure you have a place to sit so you can untie your shoes, a spot to corral footwear, hooks for coats, and a container for keys and mail.
4. Get organized
You've heard it before—and it's still true. Clutter can overwhelm a homeowner and kill any chance of serenity.
"Clutter makes you lose peace of mind, because it takes up so much space, reminding you of what needs to be done," notes Coraccio.
In fact, clutter is the chief complaint that homeowners say affects their mood.
"Simply put, people don't feel happy or comfortable creating meals in a cluttered kitchen," says Jamie Gold, a San Diego-based wellness design consultant and author of the forthcoming book "Healthy Living, Healthy Home."
5. Define stations
"Creating a zoned space definitely adds to the potential for harmony," says Gold. Zones in your kitchen make for easier meal prep (put all the critical tools in one area) and zones in the garage make you happier to return after work.
If you're a reader, a book nook is a smart idea, while dog owners need an organized station for puppy chow and toys.
"I have a meditation chair, and as I walk toward it, my body begins to relax, because it knows what's going to happen there," Coraccio says.
6. Let colors soothe
Gold says that blues and greens are connected to nature's healing elements, including the sky, ocean, and forest. But one size doesn't fit all when it comes to colors that promote joy. An all-white room may calm one person but annoy another, she adds.
Sara Chiarilli, an interior designer with Artful Conceptions, votes for cool colors for the most serenity at home. "Shades on the cool side of the color wheel evoke a sense of calm in the brain," she says. But Henry picks whites and grays, as lots of blue can look too beachy. "Of course, the beach is relaxing, but this theme can be a little kitschy, and kitsch is not relaxing," he explains.
7. Choose comfort above all
Your chairs should look great—but feel even better. If your pieces are stunning but no one wants to sit in them, what good are they? asks Chiarilli. And a streamlined look adds to a sense of calm in the room, says Henry, because it's peaceful to the eye.
8. Add textures
A chunky throw on a bed is an easy way to add texture to the home.
"I love mixing jute with cottons and leather, and velvets combine nicely with wools and linen," says Chiarilli.
Along with metals, wood, and stone, you'll have a full complement of textures, which the brain needs to see to truly relax in a space, she adds.