You've been working hard to cultivate growth in your life, taking steps like doing away with negative influences and prioritizing self-care. You read Japanese decluttering guru Michelle Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, took it to heart and overall, you're feeling awesome. But now that the clutter is gone, if your surroundings don't quite feel like home (or at least not your home), consider some aesthetic changes.
Your personal environment can impact your moods, behaviors, relationships and stress levels, according to experts at the University of Minnesota. Shifting your surroundings to better reflect your life and the direction you're heading can enhance your well-being. It may even help you reach and maintain your aspirations more efficiently. Here are some easy ways to make your house a home.
1. Shift Your Focus
Feeling critical of your personal space can significantly impact how you feel, according to Agnes Wainman, Ph.D., a registered psychologist in London, Ontario. "Rather than it feeling like a place to rest and rejuvenate, it feels like just another thing to address on your to-do list," she says. "You may stop noticing what you initially loved about your home and only [focus] on its drawbacks."
One way to cultivate positive change, she says, is to create a gratitude practice. Walk through your home observing the positives, whether that's the view from your window or a piece of furniture you love. In doing so, you'll not only feel better about your surroundings, but you will also be more able to make adjustments.
2. Create an Oasis With Color
Revamping your home doesn't have to require a major overhaul. If your surroundings feel drab or could simply use a refresh, consider adding a pop of color.
"Color is one of the best ways to create a space that is warm, cozy and inviting or bold, dramatic and striking, depending on your personality," says Alice Chiu, principal of Miss Alice Designs in the San Francisco Bay area. "Give your space a splash of blue or green by painting your walls, bringing in colorful accessories like throw pillows or artwork or displaying your collectibles for a soothing and calm space."
While colors affect people differently, blue is associated with mental clarity and creativity. Turquoise can represent open communication between your heart and mind. Green often symbolizes growth and renewal.
3. In With the New and Uplifting
As you do away with angst-inducing items, consider more helpful alternatives. Replace an old wall hanging you've kept only out of a sense of obligation with art you adore. Even trading a boring lampshade with a new one can go far. For a minimalist approach that doesn't require a shopping spree, revamp a decluttered area with a new paint color or by rearranging things.
In the process, don't be surprised if more goodness flows into your life. "Decluttering is so important to help release old, stale energy so we can bring in new things into our lives and move forward," says Chiu. The more vibrant you feel, say many design experts, the more positivity you'll attract.
4. Focus on One Area
The thought of revamping your entire home can feel overwhelming. The good news is that you don't have to go that far to draw in significant benefits.
Create one spot in your home that you absolutely love and feels done," says Wainman. "It may be one small corner of your home where you have some favorite artwork [and] a comfy chair where you go to unwind." Even if the rest of your home feels like a to-do list, she added, you'll have one uplifting area to retreat to. Choose a spot that feels the most manageable to start or the one you most wish to enjoy spending time in.
5. Let the Sunshine In
More natural light in your home can boost your well-being, especially if you're one of the estimated 10 million Americans who lives with seasonal affective disorder or the up to 20 percent who experience milder levels of SAD, which can include sad or hopeless feelings, fatigue, anxiety and sleep problems.
"Deprivation of natural light can cause severe mental conditions like depression [and] anxiety," says Robbie Nevens, co-founder and manager at Lamp Twist in Belgium. "I had to live in a sun-free apartment for quite some time in my early student years, and I would never willingly choose that scenario again."
If you don't have much access to natural light at home, Nevens suggests using mirrors or other reflective materials to maximize the light you do have. Techniques like cove lighting, which directs light toward the ceiling to diffuse illumination, he says, can also help.
6. Create a Welcoming Entryway
If you're not sure where to start when revamping your surroundings, consider starting right inside your front door. This area is important in the context of feng shui, a Chinese system that aims to harmonize people with their surroundings.
"Your entryway sets the tone of your home every time you cross the threshold," says Robin Buck, an interior stylist and feng shui consultant in the Washington, D.C., area. "Make sure it's welcoming."
The entryway is believed to absorb chi, or feng shui energy nourishment. Helpful components might include vibrant-colored artwork or wall paint or a lamp on a table topped with a flower-filled vase. Consider how you want to feel at home, then choose and arrange your decor accordingly.