Spring is a time of renewal. It’s a time when we consider changes. The stresses of the holidays are since gone. However, many of us do not realize that our choices at home could actually be adding to our stress instead of managing it. Here are some design tips to help you de-stress your home:
1- Create a Staging Area: When you walk in the door, you need the ability to ditch everything in your arms in a neat and orderly fashion. So create a staging area that can handle the coats, shoes, knapsacks, purses, mail, keys and whatever else typically comes in with all the family members. The best devices are hooks, bins, tables, cubbies, shelving and organized closets. As you all leave the items from your outside world in their proper indoor place, you can leave the outside worries behind and enjoy your home that much less stressed.
2- Bring in the Green: During the winter months, our homes see less fresh air because doors and windows are rarely opened. Use live plants to add fresh oxygen to your home, naturally purifying the air and removing toxins. Plus, the time taken to tend to your plants can be a wonderfully de-stressing task in itself. Actually, a University of Rochester study found that natural elements encourage friendlier interactions. So plants contribute peace and improve health and state of mind. You can also use fresh flowers to brighten up a room and relieve your stress.
3- Take Advantage of Natural Light: Artificial light is actually not healthy for us as it disrupts our natural sleep cycle, so it behooves us to take advantage of natural light through doors, windows and skylights. Sunlight delivers the neuro-transmitter serotonin that enhances brain function while reducing stress and creating a naturally soothing atmosphere. When sunlight is not an option, try using full-spectrum bulbs that mimic natural light. Also, only light up specific areas instead of the entire room using task lights and dimmers when possible. And finally, minimize exposure to the light emitted from electronics by turning them off when not actually being used, especially when going to bed, so as not to trigger the brain into restless activity.
4- Create Boundaries: Our homes have turned into a mishmash of ‘at home’ activity areas ranging from the office, gym, rec room, and theater. Although convenient, it leaves many unable to separate work from play and adults from children. The key is to create boundaries to preserve personal space. The ideal is to have a spare room with a closed door, but you can also make dividers ...whether in the form of accordion panels, shelving units, fabric panels, or stackable units. And even though it’s not as private, designated tables grounded by area rugs also create defined areas will also work.
5- Eliminate Clutter: Clutter crowds us, wastes space and time, and consumes energy, both mental and physical. Counter tops, tables, shelves, dressers, toy boxes, closets and even walls typically get filled with unimportant stuff. The stress is moving it around all the time, cleaning around it, looking for lost things, and simply looking at it and thinking ‘this place is a mess.’ De-cluttering and purging can actually be very cathartic. Find or make alternative storage options if need be, and then re-organize what's left. You'll find your family will actually move around and function better....even maybe complain less!
6- Control Noise: It's not just sight but sound, whether originating from the inside or outside, that contributes to stress. An active neighborhood or high traffic area typically yields loud noise. Rambunctious children and dogs, appliances, TV, video and music can all contribute irritating noise. The best way to ward off sound is by absorbing it with fabric and layers. For example, get double/triple panes for windows and add drapes or fabric shades; area rugs helps mitigate sound that echoes off hard floor surfaces; filled book cases, fabric wall hangings and upholstered furnishings also help absorb sound.
7- And then there's the influence of color: The soft color scheme and simple decor, accented by natural light, fabric sound buffers, and ample storage, make this a very calm children's room.
A neutral palette, big plants, lots of natural light and comfy cushions are very inviting and relaxing.
This country kitchen is open and airy with natural elements in the wood beams, quiet green color, generous window light and clean granite counters.
The orderliness of this office, complemented by the natural light and neutral palette, is much more conducive to getting work done than if surrounded by clutter and darkness.