Happiness. It’s the Holy Grail right? And us Brits don’t appear to be very good at it. We’re just not hitting the Hygge like our Scandinavian neighbours. But ask anyone I know and it’s the ultimate goal we’re all striving to grasp – be it success at work, love filled relationships, or harmony at home. Self-help gurus will tell you it’s all in the mind and you have to embrace the power of now. But I’ll go a little bit further than that and attest that there is some work that can be done on the home front. My recent work for the Ikano campaign found out that 75% of people are happier once they have carried out a home makeover and 73% more likely to invite friends over as a result. You can read more about their happy findings in my other recent post here. Meanwhile here are my top ten ways to transform your house into a happy home.
Ditch the clutter! I’ll start with the big one. It may be time to get real about the available space in your home and have a huge chuck out or to address the current storage solutions. There’s less chance of stuff lying around, getting in the way, if it has a place to go. Try and avoid over stuffing cupboards and drawers, it’s just all stress inducing. It’s often just a case of having a big chuck out and taking a trip to Ikea for some new cupboards. Like any good work out, the pain will be worth it!
Image source: housetohome. Styling by Sophie Robisnon
Have a spring clean. It’s very therapeutic to have a big spring clean at least once a year. That’s under the bed, behind the sofa, clean the windows, hoover the skirting boards and even consider a fresh lick of paint. I have just this weekend painted my bedroom a deep blue. I got rid of the kid, the husband (not the dog, she just curled up on the dust sheets) and for an uninterupted 8 hours, just painted the walls. It was strangely relaxing. I’ll post the results here on the blog soon.
Decorate in happy colours. Ikano’s research found that the three colours people most associated with happiness were blue, white and yellow. Blues are inherently calming while white is viewed as peaceful and then yellow is just an all out happy and positive colour. However I think we’re all different and its important to take some time to find a palette of colours that resonates happiness to you. And you might want to think about creating different moods in different rooms. Especially renters- add accent colours with accessories and artwork.
Have fun. In my view interior design spends too much time taking itself far too seriously. And far too many people spend too much time worrying what other people will think of their homes rather than how they make them feel. So I think a little cheeky bit of frivolity is important in any scheme. Whether that’s a lamp base in the shape of a pug or a neon pink sign that says ‘up yer bum’, think about doing something quirky in your scheme that makes you smile.
Create a social vibe. It might not feel like it all the time but the key to happiness in the home is the people you share it with. I’m not taking it for granted that everyone has family they live with but even if you live alone you’ll want to make sure you have a nice social space that sets the vibe for the odd gathering. Be it the dining table for supper evenings or a cosy and welcoming living room. But with the fast onset of technology more and more people are scattered around the house watching their own screens. I’m a fascist on this one and am firm that we are a one TV household. But then again my sons is only 6 so I’m sure they’ll be some challenges to come! But having a room in the house that can bring the family together I think is really really key to a happy harmonious home. And that might be getting all the people who live their involved in the design decisions (sharp in take of breath)!
Plants and flowers. Introduce a bit of living love in your home with some live plants. They’ve never been so fashionable so you can set aside some space for some groovy houseplants. Play around with terarriums or hanging plant pots if space is tight. I find woodland plants like ferns and Phalaenopsis orchids particularly hardy as they don’t require regular water and pop them somewhere shady and they’ll keep going for a spookily long time. Failing that indulge in a bunch of fresh blooms. I like to do this as a treat after I have cleaned through the house and had a bit of a chuck out!
Pictures. Artwork and family photos are real sentimental triggers. I’m all for making a house a home and regularly rant on here against what I call the anodyne show-home chic. I think its really important that a happy home reflects the people that live in it so it’s important to have a few items that represent them. Typically this can be framed pictures of the ones you love or objects that hold special cherished memories. However this needs managing carefully as sentimentality can quickly tip into rabid hoarding which I’m very against. See number 1!
Image source: Marks and Spencer
Get Cosy. Creating some softness to your scheme can really help create the cosy vibe. In my view that’s a mountain of cushions, fat interlined curtains and a bevy of scented candles on the sideboard. And I’ll add a deep squishy sofa, a huge mattress and a shag pile rug while I’m at it!
A place for solitude. Just as having a communal space to be together is really important for well being, so is having a place to take some time out. If you live in a busy household this is even more important. It might be a reading corner in the living room, a she shed at the bottom of the garden or one of my favourite places for some me time is the bathroom. A long candle lit soak is one of my all time favourite ways to unwind. So I make sure the bathroom isn’t just a playground of plastic bathroom toys and is decorated in a way that makes me feel luxurious and peaceful.
Image source: JJ Locations
Maximise natural light. It’s a well-documented scientific fact that sunlight is awesome for us. Its also something that most people try and maximise in their own homes. We might not all be lucky enough to live in light filled homes but there are a few ways to maximise what you do have. First up make sure your window dressings can be pulled clear of the window. This might be extending the curtain pole a little wider, or hanging the roman blind above the recess. Roller blinds are a great compact way to draw as much fabric all the way clear of the glass. Gloss ceilings can help reflect light back into the room as can pale coloured hardwood floors like lime washed oak or painted boards.