If I had to pick one word to describe 2020, I’d probably land somewhere between exhausting and overwhelming. Which is why it’s more important than ever for home to feel like home.
Despite various aesthetic preferences, all humans generally crave comfort and safety. And the design choices we make to feel comfort and safety aren’t accidents.
What makes us feel calm and cozy today isn’t all that different from the stone ages, according to Jane Nichols, department chair of Home Furnishings & Interior Design at High Point University.
“The idea of home is really embedded in us,” she says. “It represents safety, warmth, community.”
Here are 7 ways to make your space feel calm and homey, according to the experts (Nichols and interior designer Quintel Gwinn).
(1) Design your room with all five senses in mind.
Nichols says most of her students start their interior design journey with aesthetics in mind. But in practice, designers really consider how a person will feel in their rooms, and what needs to be done to evoke those feelings.
To really create a vibe, you’ll want whatever room you’re working on to have the right textures, scent, sounds, etc.
(2) Calm doesn’t equal sterile-looking.
“My personal zen space looks like a bohemian rhapsody of line, texture, pattern, and color,” Nichols says.
Everyone’s design style is different, but, in general, when shopping for your space go for colors that make you happy, textures that are interesting and feel good to you — for me, it’s anything soft.
(3) Prioritize the living room and your bedroom.
If you’re in pursuit of a cozier, calmer home, you don’t need to redo your entire house.
Gwinn says most of her clients start with their living rooms and bedrooms. You’re able to make bigger changes on a smaller budget compared to other high-traffic area like the kitchen.
It’s important to feel your best before going to bed, and to have a restful night’s sleep, especially in today’s super-charged climate.
To do that, pick calming scents and plush blankets.
“Don’t skimp on the bedding,” Gwinn says. “Good sleep is a priority, and quality threads are essential to the soul.”
(3) Play with texture.
“I find texture to be one of the most interesting elements of design to work with,” Gwinn says.
Chenille, velvet, and cotton are three of the softest textures, and used together you can create visual interest as well. Velvet in particular is a great fabric for sofas and chairs because it feels and looks extra luxe.
Nichols agrees, and says there’s a reason most people like visual and tactile texture.
“We never find a dull flat plane in nature,” she says. “It doesn’t appeal to our human evolutionary brain; it’s a foreign concept.
(4) Incorporate smell.
Smell is especially powerful because it connections with the part of our brains that holds our oldest memories, Nichols explains.
Candles, fresh plants, diffusers, and incense are all things you can buy to change the mood of your room. You can even create a room spray with a custom scent. I found this option online for $18, or you can head to Candle Bar in South End to make your own candle.
(5) Little (inexpensive) luxuries make a big impact.
If tackling an entire room sounds overwhelming (or out of the budget) start by adding one small thing at a time.
For your bedroom, you can add a diffuser with a calming scent (like this eucalyptus one from Target, $9.99).
“Infusing your favorite essential oil into your space is therapeutic and can transform the experience of any room,” Gwinn says.
And if your budget is more like $50, Gwinn says go with a new piece of art. It sets the tone for the space and you can make the rest of design decisions based on that piece down the road.
(6) Bring in nature.
Nichols said biophilic design is a guiding principal that connects people to nature.
“When windows provide views of nature, it speeds up healthy recovery times even faster,” she says.
If your room doesn’t have a window to let in fresh air and sites, you can trick your brain with things like plants, artwork with nature scenes, nature-inspired wallpaper, water features, a fireplace, etc.
Photos courtesy of/space designed by Quintel Gwinn
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