Your home is not just bricks and mortar. It is a story - a living, breathing, light-filled haven. Don't believe me? Here are 8 simple steps to introduce Zen to your interiors, and reinvent the relationship you share with - and within - your address.
While we can read all of the self-help books in the world and practice mindfulness and meditation, creating a sense of calmness can also be achieved through interiors. Before you throw this idea out the window, read on below to discover the importance of the right colours, textures and layout, in balancing your mood.
1. Your home has: a rhythm
Wake up your home with the day. By simply throwing open the drapes and allowing natural light to stream in, you are automatically enhancing the mood of anyone inside, setting the scene for a happier, calmer morning. Letting sunlight in has been proven to prevent the onset of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a form of depression most often associated with variations which run in cycles. It causes sufferers to experience severe dips in mood seasonally when light is low, so even in cooler autumnal months, by simply allowing light – not necessarily sunlight – in, you can help prevent this. Open a window a crack as well for good luck, as fresh air can also boost wellbeing and mental clarity.
2. Your home is: your holiday
Cool blues and greens – reminiscent of an island escape - are the best choices to create a Zen calm in your home. Whereas any riotous reds or vivid brights can create a feeling of stimulation at all times. So, if you are painting, low stimulation shades are the go, with watery, tranquil blues, cool grays and off-whites the best choice. If painting isn’t on the cards, introduce these relaxed tones in soft furnishings, drapes, lampshades and curtains.
3. Your home: is a warm hug
Cool steel and concrete may be the stuff of modern interior dreams - and in small amounts they prove unbeatable for style - but the home is supposed to be a heartwarming environment and textures that are too ‘cold’ work against this. To create warmth and a welcoming vibe, introduce wood and cork textures to hard furnishings such as flooring, bench-tops and furniture, and accentuate comforting elements on beds and couches with soft furnishings of linen, cotton and wool.
4. Your home: has a pulse
Think of your home as a heart, and the paths between furniture as arteries. By ensuring they are clear and couches and beds are not pressed against any walls, instead placed openly and freely in an easily navigated order, you are allowing the energy and 'lifeblood' of the home to flow. This theory is loosely based on the key principles of Feng Shui, which promotes the importance of energy circulating around and under furniture, to prevent the feeling of claustrophobia and environmental and emotional ‘blockages.’
5. Your home: can think
Think of each room as a brain. Is it full of stuff that you really don’t need, creating clutter and stress? If so, clear it out and imagine you are reducing your own mental tension. By removing the clutter and disorganisation, you can then remove the personal reverberations you may feel also. Clutter – in the teachings of Feng Shui – represents low, stagnant energy that actually lowers the quality of life, so by removing it (and let’s be honest, how many pillows do you actually need on that bed, and do last weeks newspapers and magazines really still need a place at the table?) you can create newfound calm and comfort.
6. Your home: needs to be flattered
You’ve heard the term ‘flattering light’, well, you can create this at home too by avoiding overhead lights – which can cast harsh, unforgiving, glaring shadows – and use only floor lights which offset a much warmer, welcoming glow. Lamps that are dimmable are also advisable so that you can work on with nature, creating a darker environment inside, as it occurs inside. This is hugely beneficial for calming children at bedtime as the brighter the light; the more stimulated the occupants – of any age!
7. Your home: is a haven for all
Homes are rarely quiet if there are kids involved, but by creating calm ‘background’ energy, you can dim the audible dynamics. This can easily be achieved by having some soft, calm music play through the computer as kids wake and eat breakfast - rather than television - or when you are bathing small children and putting them to bed. For further quiet, designate a chair or cushion for times of silence, introducing with it an understanding that anyone sitting on that chair does not want to be disturbed – whether they be an adult or child – so that you all have some kind of sanctuary when needed without having to go outside or into your room.
8. Your home: is a book
Observe each room as a chapter telling a story, within the book that is your home. What story is the art hanging in that room telling the occupant? Hanging strong, bold, loud images in rooms of quiet and rest is counterproductive, so keep the thought-provoking visuals in areas you socialise or entertain within. For example, landscapes of tumultuous storms may not work in the bedroom, but a calming, water scene might. Also, Feng Shui principles put great importance on the height of wall hangings – including mirrors – believing that if they are too high, they omit an ongoing sense the owner and guests may feel of ‘never measuring up’. So, be precise when hanging any piece also, so that it can be easily enjoyed by all.