In Well-being at home

10 Science-backed ways to make you happier at home

Make Your Home Your Happy Place Boreal Abode Home ByKirsty-36

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

Logo banner of the Happier at Home blog series with plants in the background

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

Before After Contemporary Mid-century Modern Summer Living Room Makeover Reveal Boreal Abode-16

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.

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

Before After Contemporary Mid-century Modern Summer Living Room Makeover Reveal Boreal Abode-6

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. 

If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it with people you care about. Use the social sharing buttons below or send them a message with the link. Let’s help them be happier at home too! 

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Juan Sandiego

I'm an award-winning interiors blogger with a passion for biophilic design. I help people transform their spaces with style and their well-being in mind. In Boreal Abode, I share my best design tips and expert advice to make your home a happier place.

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39 Comments

  1. Julie Davis
    2 years ago

    Wow what a great 20 min read, you deserve a lie down!. You’ve covered everything. I like the morning routine of flinging open the windows and turning back the bedding. I will definitely give it a try during the summer. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Julie! So glad you enjoyed the guide. Regarding the windows, feel free to open them as well in the winter (no more than 10 minutes). I’ve checked my room temperature readings and there’s no significant drop even in the coldest days

      Reply
  2. Meera
    2 years ago

    Such a lovely post, Juan! And I agree wholeheartedly with every single one of your points. I’d expand on this comment except I’ll just be repeating everything you said! If I won that dream holiday, you’d be one of the few people I’d take with me (provided you’d want to come 😂) 😊❤️️

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Meera! I really appreciate taking the time to read it all. And that’s so sweet! It’d be a holiday packed with interesting design chats non-stop. *Opens travel websites…*

      Reply
    2. Jumi Awomosu
      2 years ago

      Ha of course he wants to come and so do I 😉

      Reply
      1. Juan Sandiego
        2 years ago

        This could become an Interiors Retreat holiday! 😃

        Reply
  3. Jumi Awomosu
    2 years ago

    Wow what an amaaaaaazing post! I feel like you’ve just about summed up everything that I’m about in one post and I love that you recognise this too!

    I love everything about it and cannot fault you on this! Many of the issues that you speak of are issues that I’ve struggled with my self… hoarding syndrome I can relate to even now! I’m still having to ask myself the question; do you really need that Jumi or the are you really gonna use those! These are questions that I have to ask myself on a daily basis!

    But through the School of Artful Living I am making those changes… I am simplifying my life, with a few sprinklings of the delicious pops of colour that I love and I’m feeling much happier… why… because It is forcing me to become a better version of myself and that I love! I’m all about growth and positive change! Thanks Juan for writing this truly inspiring post. I love it!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your kind words, Jumi! I’m so happy the guide resonated with you. I’m also guilty of many of things pointed here. But as you say, it’s all about awareness and making an effort to improve.

      Reply
      1. Jumi Awomosu
        2 years ago

        Yes we all are…but thats the beauty of it all! We are always growing and developing! Finding new ways to enjoy life that little bit more!

        Reply
        1. Juan Sandiego
          2 years ago

          You always find the right words, Jumi!

          Reply
  4. Becky at PinksCharming
    2 years ago

    This is such an interesting article, thanks so much! It’s given me lots of food for thought! Especially decluttering and bed making!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Becky! I’m glad you found it interesting. Hope it inspires you to do a big declutter session.

      Reply
  5. Maria
    2 years ago

    I have to say that’s the best 20 minutes I’ve spent of inspiring reading Juan. I’ve written a similar post but concentrated on our health but you’ve definitely raised the bar with some thought provoking and inspiring points! It’s definitely a post I’ll be coming back to and reflecting upon 🙂 x

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Maria! I tried to find the post you talk about but I couldn’t find it. Wellbeing at home is such an important topic. We must spread the word!

      Reply
  6. Lins @ Boo & Maddie
    2 years ago

    Absolutely LOVE this post and so much of it explains exactly why our home is our forever home, despite all the work we need to do to it. I literally walk in through the front door and breathe with gratitude, I talk to our house because to me houses have souls. We’re very lucky that because we’re a semi it’s flooded with natural light even on the greyest of days and our top floor bedroom which is a loft conversion is very definitely the sanctuary away from the rest of the house. Restoring it from it’s former neglected state may be my life’s work but I love it X

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Lins! And don’t forget about your garden, it’s huge! So happy you found your forever home. Restoring and home and making it yours takes time indeed. But the goal (and the process) it’s worth it.

      Reply
  7. Fiona
    2 years ago

    Some great tips here. It’s so good to take a step back and think about putting these practices into action to make your life easier and happier. Now popping off to insta to enter your competition!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Fiona! Little actions like these have a great impact on our wellbeing. Good luck with the competition!

      Reply
  8. Melinda
    2 years ago

    Such a great piece! I’m a firm believer in investing time and passion into your home in order to improve your overall wellbeing. I loved how you mentioned how finding your ‘me’ space is important:) mine is by the window, on a cosy armchair, with a fluffy blanket an a book!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Melinda! Your “me” space is vital. It’s the kind of thing you miss when you don’t have access to it. Your cosy corner sounds fab!

      Reply
  9. Pati
    2 years ago

    I loved this post ! There are so evcelent tips i need to learn how to de clutter more as i have a problem with it and for me being a maximalist its a great exuse hhe – i also love brining life to the room wheb its comes to greenery

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Pati! You can definitely be a maximalist. It’s all about curating only the best or the best, with a little bit of help from your plants.

      Reply
  10. Fawn Interiors Studio
    2 years ago

    I soooo agree with no 6 (and your mother). Even on dark, cold winter days, it’s good to open the windows for a little bit. And in the summer – open them wide and let the happiness in. A beautifully written and curated post, Juan!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Tamsin! Absolutely. When you don’t open the windows you can tell the air doesn’t feel as fresh. So glad you enjoyed the post!

      Reply
  11. Donna Ford
    2 years ago

    What a great post! Amazing tips and like me your approach towards home is very holistic and focuses on well-being. I love the science-y bits (I’m a bit of a geek!) Thanks for sharing and will come back and read again soon.

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Donna! Wellbeing is something that I’ve been drawn to naturally. But there are so many factoids out there you need to pick the best evidence-based tips.

      Reply
  12. Lin
    2 years ago

    Great post Juan ! You have put so much work into this it’s brilliant. I think writing self -help books may be your next step 😊

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Lin! So happy that you enjoyed this guide. A book about this topic is something I’ve definitely considered. Watch this space

      Reply
  13. Kirsty
    2 years ago

    Amazing blog Juan, Thank you so much for featuring the shop! It was a pleasure having you around for a chat. So excited to see who wins the GIVE AWAY!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Aww, thank you so much for having me in your shop and sharing all your tips, Kirsty! It’s been a pleasure too. It wouldn’t have been the same without you for sure.

      Reply
  14. JENNY KAKOUDAKIS
    2 years ago

    “Instead of buying random-shaped pieces and force them in, shop for the exact pieces you’re missing to complete the puzzle.” – I really liked this puzzle analogy, which is so true. You write beautifully Juan, I am sure i HAVE TOLD YOU BEFORE!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you so much for your comment, Jenny! So glad you liked the puzzle analogy. I find using analogies makes it easier to put a point across. Otherwise, I wouldn’t make any sense!

      Reply
  15. Mary| hellopeagreen
    2 years ago

    This is like reading an 8-page feature! I have to say, Juan that your posts are always so wonderful and thoughtfully put together. Happiness is a well-designed home and a peaceful mind. You can tell me all the science but it’s an intrinsic feeling deep in our bellies

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your kind comment, Mary! I’m so glad you enjoyed the “8-page feature”. You’re right, what a lovely thing to say “Happiness is a well-designed home and a peaceful mind”. I’m going to remember that one.

      Reply
  16. Anne Marie
    2 years ago

    There is a thin line between boho and jumanji 🤣🤣🤣 I love it. And the house is like a puzzle… What a great anology 😊 it was a 20 minutes well spent. I always enjoy reading your posts Juan but this one has to be my favourite. I agree with everything you ( and Kirsty) said 😉 And I’m so glad you mentioned fluffing the pillows. My home is my happy place 😊😊 Thank you Juan 😘

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Anne Marie! Oh, I’m so happy this is your favourite post. It’s definitely the most meaningful (hopefully). Congratulations on making your home your happy place.

      Reply
  17. Ruthie
    2 years ago

    What a brilliant and thoughtful piece Juan. I couldn’t agree with you more on all of it. Cleaning and curating, plants, me space, yes, yes, yes! Love this guide, contains all the elements of a happy home to my mind 🙂

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your kind comment, Ruthie! It’s great to see it resonated with you. So many of these steps seem like common sense, but it’s only when you stop for a moment and think the lightbulb moment happens.

      Reply
  18. 7 Tips for Leaving your Happy Place - Leaving the Farm
    4 months ago

    […] A house is merely a physical thing. It is up to you to find your new happy home and furnish it with love, thought and things that bring you much pleasure. Check out Ways to Make you Happier at Home. […]

    Reply

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