Your home should be an escape from the outside world. Ideally a retreat where you can relax and recharge your batteries.
Unfortunately that’s not always the case. Your home can feel just like another area of your life that needs sorting out rather than the peaceful enclave that you wish it was.
We’ve asked the experts for their tips to create a peaceful home:
1. Cut down on clutter
Do you have ornaments and knick-knacks from decades past gathering dust on every surface, or a pinboard of old birthday cards and out of date business cards? Life, and especially family life, can result in too much clutter.
Sorting it out is cathartic. Only keep things which you actually use or you really love. If you are surrounded by too much stuff your home can feel overwhelming. Once you have cleared the decks your home will feel less suffocating.
If you can’t manage it yourself call in the professionals like Juliette Harding who runs Tulips de-cluttering.
“Some clients use it as an opportunity to start afresh, get rid of bad memories that for whatever reason they have been holding onto,” says Juliette.
She says one client who is starting his own business has benefited from de-cluttering his flat. “It’s stopped the horrible feeling of being overwhelmed and he now feels focused, happy and able to enjoy his space and concentrate on launching his business. So it’s helped his physical and mental wellbeing and ultimately his financial situation,” she says.
2. Use relaxing colours
The colour that the rooms of your home are painted can have a big effect on your mood.
Colour psychologist Angela Wright says it’s best to define which rooms in your home you’d like to be your sanctuary to retreat to, usually your living room or bedroom.
“It’s not about a particular colour being better than another, it’s about the tint. Softer colours with less saturation are calmer,” adds Angela. She says: “Soft pinks are physically soothing, soft blues are mentally soothing and soft yellows are emotionally soothing.”
She feels living in a totally white walled house would be exhausting, and that soft green is the easiest colour to live with as it’s in the centre of the colour spectrum.
3. Bring nature inside
Going for a walk outside or staring up at the sky and trees has the capacity to make us feel more relaxed, so try to bring nature into your home.
There are no end of studies showing that being surrounded by nature and even looking at scenes of the natural world can alleviate stress and have an impact on wellbeing.
So having indoor plants and small trees, boxes of herbs or geraniums on windowsills, may help to bring the beauty of the outside world into your living environment.
Open the windows to let some air in. Hanging some wind chimes can also help create a feeling of calm.
4. Think about lighting
How your house is lit has an effect on how you feel. Bright fluorescent strip lighting will tend to make you feel less relaxed than some up-lighters, a standard lamp or dimmed shade.
Think about getting rid of stark lighting in rooms where you want to relax like the bedroom or living area.
The dappled light of candles and tea lights can bring a sense of calm.
5. Soothing smells
With cooking whiffs, pongy trainers and bathroom odours, homes can become a bit on the smelly side, so use scented candles or oil burners to transform the aroma to one of comfort and peace.
Aromatherapist Helen Jarvis says: “To create a relaxed and calm atmosphere in your room place the following essential oils in an oil burner, 3 drops of geranium, 3 drops of lavender and 2 drops of bergamot.”
6. Avoid storage wars
Over-stuffed cupboards, tripping over toys and piles of ironing dotted all over is enough to test anyone’s inner calm, so put in place some easy storage solutions.
Sort out wardrobes, drawers and cupboards. With clothes and shoes you haven’t worn for years, or have grown out of, either sell them, give them to charity, pass them on to friends, or throw them out. Pack away clothes for a different season in a big storage bag and put it under the bed, in the loft or anywhere out of sight.
Have a big wooden chest and at the end of everyday get your children (even tiny ones) to put all of their toys away. Make it into a game to see how fast they can do it!
If all of your bills and bits of paper tend to be strewn on work surfaces, invest in a simple basket for them, and on a certain day of the week sort through the basket.
“You’ll be able to lay your hands on things when you need them, not have to spend time sifting though unwanted items to find keys, appointment cards, phone numbers, paperwork”, says Juliette. “People I have worked with say it gives them a sense of freedom; they feel a fog has been lifted, life is clearer, they can invite friends over and not be embarrassed.”
Everything should have a place to go and all members of the family should know where that is. It’s allowable to have a “drawer of stuff” for random items that are hard to categorise! Like birthday candles, yoyos and Blu-Tack (for example!) Better a drawer of stuff than a whole house of it!
7. Try out some feng shui
Feng shui is the Chinese art or practice of positioning objects, like furniture, based on patterns of yin and yang so that the flow of chi (life energy) can have positive effects.
It could involve moving beds and sofas, adding plants and changing colour schemes.
Feng shui consultant Vicky Sweetlove says: “Space clearing cleanses and energises the spaces and removes stuck energy where it has built up in corners like cobwebs.”
Vicky says feng shui also works on removing negative earth energies from your home which she says can be harmful if you are sleeping or sitting near these energy frequencies every day.
She also tackles electromagnetic fields within the home. For example she advises: “Don’t put beds against a wall if you know there are any power cables or the electric meter for the house behind it.”
8. ‘No tech’ zones
If you count the number of screens in your house you may be surprised when you take into consideration TVs, laptops, tablets and phones. Research in 2013 by Microsoft found the average home has 10 connectable devices and six with internet access.
Sometimes it’s hard to create a peaceful atmosphere when devices are constantly trilling and beeping. One idea is to ban all screens from bedrooms so you can have a tech-free haven.
“With today’s busy lifestyle, it is crucial to find balance and go home to a tranquil environment,” says Neil Shah, director of the Stress Management Society. “Research shows that using technology is very disturbing to the brain and it affects the quality of sleep. Avoid blue light technology at least for an hour before bed.”
What you hear can also have an impact on your mood. Some people find that classical music takes them to a calm place. Others find familiar tunes from their pasts make them feel happier.
In a study 144 people listened to four different types of music for 15 minutes at a time: grunge rock, classical, new age and so-called designer music that is supposed to evoke a certain mood. It was the designer music that came out on top and made people feel more positive.
Designer music is specifically made to make you feel a certain way, for example, mellow mood music or music for tranquillity and peace.
10. Communicate kindly
Those who live in your home can do a lot to keep it a peaceful one, by speaking to each other kindly, respecting one another and talking over any potential flashpoints before they become real problems.
A peaceful house has as much to do with the people who live in it as the environment you create.