By Kathryn Weber
It seems like for far too long the world has suffered one tragedy after another. The news is filled with death, senseless violence and destruction….and more arrives every day. Because it doesn’t look like the carnage will ever end, the misery won’t abate and the news will continue to be filled with one catastrophe after another, you need a place of refuge.
That place can be your home.
We look to our homes to provide a sensory reprieve, allowing us to unplug from the stresses of the outside, and the over-stimulating, and ever-increasingly violent world.
A home such as this nurtures and refreshes us.
It does not calm us to a point that we’re ready to fall asleep, but it does provide the elements that enable us to regroup so that we can take on each new day and function effectively in the outside world each day rather than simply withdraw from it.
However, creating a calming, relaxing home isn’t as easy as it seems. That’s because the elements of a serene space aren’t always obvious.
Here are six elements that create a calm, peaceful and refreshing environment that will nurture and soothe you and create a peaceful sanctuary at your home.
1. Make your home mentally restful.
A home must be a line in the sand between you and troubling world events, stress-filled work, and — this is important here — electronic demands. Here are some important tips for getting mental rest from your home.
Rein in the television. If your home is like many, the television is centrally-located and turned on regardless of whether anyone is watching it or not. This gives the TV superior status over the occupants in most homes. Cover it up, move it to a less-central or less-important location. Then, turn it on only if you will be sitting in front of it. Next, put the bed back in bedroom by taking the TV out of it. This room should only be used for rest and relaxation.
Get organized. If you’re running around the house frantically searching for keys, your wallet, your purse, etc., then you are mentally agitated in what should be a calm environment.
Just think about how annoying it is to day in and day out look for these things that you use every single day. Designate one single space for these essentials and be vigilant about putting them there as you come in the house. Then, go through the house and purge it of extraneous and unused items
Be neat. Neatness counts a lot for creating visual calm. After all the disturbing images we see online and from media, we need visual calm.
How to do that? Simple. Make the bed, hang up your towels, put the dishes in the dishwasher. Pick up for a few minutes a few times a day and you’ll be amazed how things will stay picked up and how much nicer it is to be home. Use organizers and storage totes to keep things picked up and put away.
Use the off button. Many computers, phones and tablets are never turned off. The constant bleating, beeping and buzzing means that you are always on demand. You’re being forever summoned, and for many, this is Pavlovian and they feel compelled to comply with each beep.
You are in control of your electronics, they’re not in control of you, so silence your phone or tablet when you’re at home and check it only occasionally, or turn them off entirely.
2. Make your home visually relaxing.
Visual stimulation comes from a number of different places, but its impact on us is dramatic. We are bombarded today with unpleasant images and sights. Use these ideas for enhancing the visual rest in your space.
Create views. We must be able to see out and beyond in order to rest our eyes and spirits. This is what makes mountains and beaches so appealing for a vacation – we crave the kind of rest that only long, open distances can provide.
In a home, open shades and curtains or remove them altogether to view the garden or open spaces beyond. Even better, create near and far vignettes in the garden. Planters and garden statuary make for a beautiful view from indoors. If that’s not possible, select artwork that offers perspective and depth, such as those in landscapes.
Use calming colors. One of the reasons people enjoy going to spas so much is because they not only provide sensory rest (massage, facials, etc), they also provide visual rest by using muted colors in the decor. Trim, walls, and ceilings may all be painted the same color. Or, they may be only a shade or two different from one another. Both are excellent calming decorative techniques. Look at colors found in nature for inspiration.
Make your home attractive. If you enjoy looking at decorating magazines with beautiful interiors, or enjoy being in beautiful spaces, you should try decorating your space so that it is appealing to you. Beautiful spaces are always more enjoyable to be in than those that aren’t.
3. Make your home audibly soothing.
Rather than hearing the TV drone on and on about all the happenings going on in the world, or the beeps and buzzes from your electronics, add sounds that will help soothe your mind and quiet your spirit. These tips will help.
Just add water. Use a tabletop fountain or place a water feature in your home to add a soft sound. The gurgling, peaceful sound of water is extremely relaxing and enjoyable. More importantly, it creates a natural sound like that heard in nature.
Listen to calming music. Classical or new age music is very soothing. Listen to this when you come home, while relaxing in the house, or before bed. Or, play it on a whole house stereo system.
Turn off the TV. Again, the TV reigns supreme on the stress meter in a home. It’s just keeps yapping, like an unruly electronic dog. And, it’s always there. Learn to savor silence by turning it off unless you are going to watch it or if you just enjoy the images, try a DVD of an ocean reef or ocean waves or even a fireplace. They’re really beautiful and enjoyable.
Enjoy reading, conversing, etc., without the TV on in the background. Let me be clear that TV, in and of itself, is not bad. But anything that dominates a house, like so many TVs do in so many homes, is never a good idea. Play board games and enjoy one another’s company without a TV going in the background.
4. Make your home truly restful.
A restful home helps prepare us for the day ahead. When our home rejuvenates our mind and spirit, we are more relaxed and centered.
Place emphasis on the bedroom. Bedrooms are an especially important part of creating a restful home. Too many bedrooms are over-functional and over stimulating. They may have a computer, exercise equipment, desks, stacks of books, that divert attention from the two things that are most important in a bedroom, rest and, if you’re fortunate, romance.
Bedrooms designated for rest, relaxation, and romance are they are the ones that refresh and rejuvenate the best. Although many people think of the entire home as a “cocoon” away from the whole world, the bedroom should truly be the cocoon. Creating a tranquil space is key for being able to fully rest. What’s more, these spaces are also more romantically inspiring. Make your bedroom comfortable and enjoyable to be in.
•Select restful, earthy colors in the bedroom.
•Eliminate work objects, such as computers, work-related materials, and exercise equipment.
•Take mirrors off the wall if they reflect the bed. Mirrors are stimulating according to feng shui and should not be in the bedroom.
•Take the TV out of the bedroom if you have a tendency to watch news or programs with violence before going to bed.
•Use textures such as chenille, satin, or silk in the bedroom to give tactile comfort and enjoyment.
5. Make sure to incorporate natural elements.
Asian decorating is often associated with a calm environment. In particular, Japanese homes are seen as especially serene. This is because they rely on a heavy use of natural elements. Using these elements liberally creates a relaxing, natural and harmonious atmosphere, effectively bringing the outside in.
You don’t have to live in an Asian-designed home to have a home that’s relaxing and enjoyable. Simply employ elements like wood (healthy plants), stone, and water are all excellent elements to incorporate in your space. Plants in baskets or ceramic pots are wonderful additions. Wood or bamboo baskets add the wood element. Stones and iron objects also bring some of the outdoors in.
6. Make your home clean and comfortable.
Cleanliness is important. Unfortunately, most cleaning is done is a large spurt of time on a Saturday (if at all) and can take several hours. It’s better to keep cleaning items in a bucket or basket close to the location (such as a bathroom), and take one minute each day to wipe off counters, or run a brush through the toilet.
Think how relaxing it is to come home to a clean house. If possible, hire cleaning help. Clean homes are relaxing homes. Ask anyone how they feel when they walk into their freshly-cleaned home and most won’t answer, they’ll just sigh. See what I mean?