We all want to be happier at home, don’t we? But is there something missing? Something you can’t quite figure out, but it’s stopping you from saying “This is my forever home”.
We live stressful lives. With never-ending to-do lists. And when you come home after a long day, is your home the peaceful retreat you crave for?
In this guide, you’ll find expert decoration tips and science-backed habits to be happier at home. No myths or factoids. Only the good stuff.
What does happiness mean to you?
Being happy is not letting the worries and troubles of work and the outside world take over your private space. And doing what feels good to you, not what others are doing. Happiness is connected to the wider well-being, both body and mind. Ultimately, it’s a subjective concept and it can only be defined by you. Although we all share common values.
And what about your happy place?
That’s where you feel at peace and in total balance. The space where you like to retreat and enjoy spending time in, whether on your own or with your loved ones. It doesn’t have to be an exotic destination or a luxurious five-star hotel. It can be the comfort of your home.
Meet the “Happier at Home” blog series
When I started writing a happiness guide in 2018, I never imagined it would reach over 4,400 words. However, there was way too much information in one blog post. That’s why I decided to turn my popular guide into the Happier at Home blog series. Now it’s more practical and easier to digest.
This blog post is a comprehensive summary of the series. It features the key tips you can put into practice today. Over time, I will publish in-depth blog posts about each section. So, you can dig deeper and discover new design and happiness hacks from the latest research.
Let’s find your happy at home
Over the last decade, I’ve lived in twelve different homes: from a tatty seaside B&B to an Edwardian house by the river. Now, I’m settled in a little Victorian terraced house. I want to share with you the exact steps I took to make my home a happier place. Rented or owned, house or flat — none of that matters when it comes to happiness.
You’ll be surprised to learn only half of the guide is about interior decoration. Happiness at home doesn’t come from an expensive piece of furniture or the approval of others. It’s a journey that requires an open mind, dedication and routine. And it all starts here.
10 Science-backed ways to make you happier at home
The guide is divided into ten sections. The order of the steps is relevant. It shows how being happier at home begins with you, the internal factor. And then your bubble of positivity expands incorporating external factors around you. Let’s go!
1.- Find the time (and space) for yourself
You need time for yourself to relax when you feel overwhelmed and want to disconnect for a while in silence1. But where do you go? You instinctively resort to your “me” place. This could be a reading nook by the window, a cosy sofa with a view or a secluded corner in the garden (weather permitting). Spend some time there every day doing something you love.
2.- Decorate with things that give you joy
There’s so much nice stuff out there. But we often forget to curate it and end up with fancy clutter2. Think before you buy: “Do I like this or do I love it?”. Every item in your house not only has to have a purpose but also make you happy. Yes, even the broom. Joy goes beyond aesthetics. It’s also present in stuff that works well and makes your life easier.
3.- Make tidying up part of your daily routine
If you have to do only one thing every day, make your bed. People who do this daily have proven to be happier and more successful. A large-scale survey3 revealed that “Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well-rested”. And with the convenience of duvet sets, there is no excuse — it takes 10 seconds.
4.- Design a relaxing bedroom to get better sleep
Treat your bedroom as its own universe with special rules and rituals. Incorporate natural fibres, change the bedsheets often and make the most of blackout blinds/curtains to improve your sleep. When it comes to painting, avoid warm/red colours as they’re associated with attention and focus4. And, most importantly, no tech allowed!
Continue reading: How to design a relaxing bedroom to get better sleep.
5.- Harness the benefits of biophilic design
Biophilic design incorporates the proven well-being benefits of nature into indoor spaces. Every sense is stimulated to help you feel better and be happier at home. From the use of wooden and other natural surfaces to the importance of a view with greenery5(pdf). Some practical tips taken from biophilic design principles have their own sections below (6 and 7).
6.- Let fresh air and sunshine into your home
Indoor air can become polluted6. Open the windows 10-15 minutes every day to ventilate the house. Plus, a decent quality dehumidifier will help you purify the air. Don’t forget to keep your windows unobstructed. Daylight not only helps reduce stress and improves general wellbeing, but it’s proven to uplift your mood by increasing the serotonin levels7.
7.- Decorate with mood-boosting plants
There’s no more literal way to introduce nature into your home than bringing plants in. The benefits are lower stress, improved mood and better performance8. Note indoor plants do not improve air quality9 — you’d need hundreds of them in a room to purify the air (follow Step 6 instead).
And if you’re not green-fingered, don’t despair. Contrary to popular belief, faux plants also carry some well-being benefits.
Continue reading: The ultimate guide to indoor plants and mental health
8.- Let go of perfection and love your home
Ignore the pressure on social media to share perfect snapshots of your home. And don’t adopt trends you don’t love, despite their popularity. The truth is your house will never be exactly the way you envisage it. That idealised version of your house only exists in your mind. Accept that and embrace your house for what it is —simply be grateful10.
Continue reading: How to love your home (3 key lessons I learned from being on TV)
9.- Master the art of layering lighting
Lighting has the power to transform a cold soulless space into a cosy and atmospheric room. Here’s a pro tip: illuminate every corner of a room with table lamps or floor lamps. Ceiling lights are often decorative. And avoid cold LED lights as they contain harsh blue light11. Aim for warm white (dining and living areas) or natural white (kitchen and bathroom).
10.- Be part of something bigger
We need each other to thrive because social connections are closely tied to personal happiness12. You have relationships, friendships and the community. The local community around your home, such as your neighbours, is key and can bring you many benefits. There’s an increased sense of security, belonging and fulfilment.
What’s your favourite tip to be happier at home?
I’d like to thank Kirsty from Home ByKirsty for her expert contribution to the original article. Don’t forget to read the other blog posts of the Happier at Home series. Tip: join the mailing list to be the first to know when they’re published.
Now, is there a tip in this guide that stood out for you? What would you add? I’d love to know your thoughts.
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