You’d be forgiven for feeling a bit lower than usual in the colder months. The low temperatures, shorter days, lack of greenery, and sunshine can take their toll on how we feel. While the outdoors might not give us that much to work with in terms of creating joy this time of year, we can (and should) turn our gaze to our interiors, and create an environment that supports happiness. Christmas decorations have a big role to play of course, but come January you’ll need to come up with a different interior strategy to lift those spirits.
I got together the ideas of three interior designers who are without a doubt the best placed to advise on how to make your home happier in winter. Our environment affects how we feel every single day, and these three know the secrets to creating a modern home that supports us and gives us a sense of joy at all times. Here are their simple, yet super-efficient tips to implement this winter.
1. Make your bed. Every morning
It’s such a small thing, but making your bed might just be the best way to start your day, and it doesn’t need to take more than a couple of minutes. ‘Nobody wants to live in a home that amplifies feeling down, or depressed or anxious,’ states digital creator passionate about all things interior design, Nick Lewis, in a social media post dedicated to creating a happier home, and goes on to give his top tips. First up on his list is making your bed. ‘It’s the first step to getting yourself out of a funk and research shows that there’s a link between living in an organized, clutter-free environment, and having lower stress levels,’ he explains.
Bobby Berk, the interior designer of the Fab 5 Queer Eye powerhouse, knows all about a happy home and is all for getting your modern bedroom in order to start your day on the right foot and put you in a can-do mood. ‘Making that bed in the morning is something you accomplish,' he says. 'And when you accomplish things you release endorphins in your head, it makes you feel good about yourself, it’s a little nudge of self-esteem in your mind, one that you might not even acknowledge or think about, but when you do that you achieve something that you set out to achieve,’ he explains. ‘Little things around the home can affect even your work performance and your relationships outside of the home’.
2. Get decluttering and donating
A clutter-free home means a clutter-free mind. The opposite is also very true. Decluttering will not only make your space look better, but it will also make you feel better. Despite this, so many of us struggle to let go of things. I asked professional home organizing expert Shira Gill why that is. ‘There are a few reasons, I call them clutter blocks,’ she says. ‘I think there are these blocks around either identity or memory - feeling like this item represents a certain part of my personality or a certain phase of my life, and this fear that if I part with the item I have to let go of the memory or the identity. There is also a lot of scarcity thinking and a lot of fear around ‘what if I regret it’,’ she adds.
The way Shira approaches this is by encouraging people to combat that fear and focus on the present, to declutter without regretting it. ‘We don’t know what the future will be like and the past is done, but if you think about your present, how many coats do you actually need for your current life, what is serving you now?’ she urges us to ask ourselves. Decluttering will make you feel better especially if you donate the items that don’t serve you, and the expert points out that it’s actually more of a waste to keep these items, than give them away. ‘It’s such a waste to have this nice item that you never use when someone could be using it and enjoying it. Cultivating a sense of generosity, finding places where it’s easy to donate to, can really help people who feel attached to items that are valuable but they don’t want to use them, nor throw them out.’
3. Become a plant parent
We know the benefits of plants to purify the air, but they will also add a touch of greenery and therefore a sense of life and rejuvenation into a winter home. If most of the trees outside have shed their leaves, you can still enjoy some greenery indoors. And it’s not just about how they look. Taking care of your plants will create a sense of purpose and engagement with your home, as well as pride in achieving to look after something and keeping it thriving. That will in turn generate joy.
‘Add in plants. Ideally real plants, but maybe some fake ones too,’ says Nick, especially if you’re not quite sure you can handle the maintenance of two many green additions to your home. There are also options for houseplants that even you can't kill if that makes you feel more confident about becoming a plant parent. ‘It’s scientifically proven that interacting with plants improves your well-being and you can think of them as like a lower stake pet, if you will. You don’t need to turn your home into a jungle to feel the benefits. Just a little bit of greenery adds that nature into your space and makes it feel a lot more calming and relaxing,’ adds the interiors expert.
4. Cover up ugly furniture
The majority of us will own at least one piece of furniture that they don’t actually like, but just put up with for various reasons. It might be something that was once loved but now you just don’t identify with its aesthetic anymore. It might be an item you’re emotionally attached to because it was a hand-me-down from a loved person. It might be something you’ve been gifted and now feel you must hold on to it for at least a while. In any case, it’s there, in your home, and you can do something about it.
‘Cover up some of your ugly furniture, or maybe even get rid of it if it’s not serving you anymore,’ Nick encourages us. ‘The positive emotional effect of aesthetic appearance affects mood and indirectly promotes health and well-being so make sure you’re dressing up those furniture pieces you’ve maybe outgrown, or they’ve worn out their welcome,’ he adds.
5. Go for decor that celebrates your story
Last but not least, take your time to mindfully pick items in your home that you actually love, and tell a story that is personal to you. Your home should be a celebration of you and your unique style and personality, so don’t be afraid to show it. It’ll make you so much happier when you walk through your front door in a home that is all about you. Interior designer and celebrated maximalist and color pro Dabito is all about creating interiors that tell a story. ‘Choose items that have a story behind them, or that remind you of something. Attach a memory to this object or color… the space doesn’t feel overwhelming, it becomes welcoming. Everything has a story, the story of you,’ he says.
If you’re not quite sure how to achieve a truly personal look, Dabito explains. ‘It’s all about finishing touches, filling your space with really personal things and mementos, artworks from travels, from a friend, things you made, celebrate that. You want to balance old and new,’ he says, and of course, he shares his color secrets and advises us to be brave with it and express ourselves freely. ‘People are terrified of decorating with color, but choose colors that remind you of very special, specific things. Maybe it’s your grandma’s favorite color that you want to honor and you find this pillow that reminds you of her and brings you joy. If you pick a color that has a meaningful story to you, you won’t get bored of it,’ he says.
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In the wise words of Bobby, ‘your home is like your phone charger: if you don’t get fully charged you won’t make it through the day,’ he says. Now don’t let these shorter, darker days get to you. Go and implement these happiness-boosting tips, and see how your well-being flourishes in your home even in winter.
Get inspired and master the art of colors and joyful neutrals with the help of Dabito's wonderfully maximalist book.
Get all of Bobby's tips to create a home you love to be in, and that is good for you, in this book full of practical ideas.
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Raluca is Digital News Writer for Livingetc.com and passionate about all things interior and living beautifully. Coming from a background writing and styling shoots for fashion magazines such as Marie Claire Raluca’s love for design started at a very young age when her family’s favourite weekend activity was moving the furniture around the house ‘for fun’. Always happiest in creative environments in her spare time she loves designing mindful spaces and doing colour consultations. She finds the best inspiration in art, nature, and the way we live, and thinks that a home should serve our mental and emotional wellbeing as well as our lifestyle.
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