5 Ways to Create a Comfortable Home
Because of the Feng Shui movement there has been an increased interest in how the inside of your home affects your emotional health. While most experts can't say for sure that the placement of your furniture can really bring you peace or prosperity, most agree that the décor and tidiness of your home can have a huge impact on how you feel.
Tidy vs. Sterile
Dell Smith Klein of Prescott, Ariz., calls herself the queen of clutter, but with a neat freak husband she has learned to hit a happy medium. "My home can have a positive or negative affect on my emotions," she says. "I'm a nut about having a lived-in home. Nothing affects me more negatively than a sterile, nothing-out-of-place house. Give me a place with a magazine or Bible on the coffee table, a fluffy shawl thrown over the end of the couch and I'm happy."
While having a sterile home is not the aim of Interior Designer Paula Jhung, having a clutter free home that is easy to live in, is. She says that leaving a tidy home in the morning blesses your whole day and continues to bless you when you return to it in the evening. "If you approach cleaning, decorating and organizing your home as a way to add beauty to your life, it becomes less of a chore," she says. "It adds a spiritual aspect to the mundane. For instance, sun dried sheets, candles, freshly cut flowers and plants all create an atmosphere that is relaxing and rejuvenating. Taking care of such a home is a joy."
Jhung also notes that organizing your home helps to keep your house neat and clean. Messes equal stress and learning how to organize and purge your clutter is more than half the battle when creating a home that nurtures. "If we are going to make the most of our time we have on this planet, we need a clean, comfortable, uplifting home from which to operate," she says.
Practical vs. Emotional Kathryn Robyn and Dawn Ritchie, authors of the book The Emotional Home: How Redesigning Your Home Can Change Your Life (New Harbinger Publications, 2005), believe that every room in your home has both a practical function and an emotional function. Understanding this is the first step to creating a home that fits your personality and lifestyle.
"Your home's very design is set up to meet your basic needs such as shelter, security and sustenance, in addition to your soulful needs such as a place to connect, be free, contribute and grow," Ritchie says. "The simple fact is, the layout of your home affects how you function: in your life, your relationships and in the world. You can create inviting spaces that enliven you, or defeating, stressful spaces that deaden you and your relationships."
Ritchie says she has seen many living rooms, a room meant for fellowship and sharing, with the sofas shoved up against walls or tucked into corners, creating a distant, remote atmosphere. "Think about your furnishings as the apparatus that serve the emotional functions of your rooms," she says. "Start by floating furniture in the middle of the room more. Bring seating into the heart of the room where people can connect. The living room should be open and welcoming."
5 Simple Ways
The following tips by Ritchie and Robyn will help you understand the basics about creating a home that will fit into your lifestyle as well as nurture your emotional health.
1. Understand the emotional meaning of each room, and set it up accordingly. For example, the kitchen is for nurturing, so make sure it has comfort food, healthy food and quick foods available at all times, to all inhabitants. Also ensure that there are places for people to be. The kitchen should not just be the woman's domain. Everyone has the right to self-nurturance and needs to learn how to do this. Adding a stool by counters is a way to welcome other adults into the space. But keep children out of main work areas. The kitchen can be a dangerous place for little ones. It is vital that baby jumpers or children's seating and play areas be within Mom's nurturing view, but well away from food prep and washing up areas where spills, cuts and burns can happen.
2. Comfort, first and foremost! Make sure there are comfortable places for everybody to be together – and to be separate.
3. Create 3-step lighting in every room. Lighting sets mood more than any other design element. A glowing pendant light hanging over a dining table brings the focus to the bonding aspect of being together. These seem like small things, but they aren't. Design and décor can really change the way you feel in your home. Start your lighting plan by adding ambient light: an overall light (ceiling light, torchere, etc.) that brightens a room and shows the colors off. Next add accent lighting – casual table lamps, sconces and lamps over artwork – that can make the space feel warm, cozy and intimate. Finally add specific task lighting, so you can read, work, create or prepare food without struggling to see what you're doing. Do this in every room, and you'll be amazed at how the atmosphere changes.
4. Always buy the best bed you can afford, and make it a little larger than what you think you can get away with. Beds are often relationship "hotspots," and arguments over territory should be avoided in this important room, where the emotional function is intimacy.
5. Bring music and art into your home. Play music (with instruments or recorded music) that everyone can listen to together (traditional, folk, soul, ethnic, classical, show-tunes and easy-listening). It doesn't have to be the only music or all the time, but a shared musical lexicon that has a soothing vibration is what creates a culture, and helps groups and families bond. Then, allow time to sample each other's personal tastes, too, in order to keep personal taste from turning into isolation. Mom and Dad, you can listen to one rap or hard rock song a week, and kids, you can listen to Kenny G that often, too. Why? It's nicer to share.