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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Happiness starts at home with these tips 

We offer up some ideas for creating a welcoming space filled with positivity

Incorporate greenery and natural materials into your home to create a positive space. Courtesy Garden Trading
Incorporate greenery and natural materials into your home to create a positive space. Courtesy Garden Trading

When it comes to decorating your home, you might think it’s all about style and taste, but did you know that the choices you make can actually affect your overall well­being? From your colour palette to the music you play and the angle of the chairs in your living room, even the most seemingly inconsequential of design elements can positively or negatively impact your overall psychology. Here are some tips for a happy home.

Keep it natural

We may be a rather sophisticated species, but humans are still part of the animal kingdom. So while we may have created some incredible homes in which to live, if those homes take us too far from our natural roots, it can cause problems for our health and happiness.

Create a space that appeals to all the senses, with colours that are visually striking. Courtesy Woodchip & Magnolia
Create a space that appeals to all the senses, with colours that are visually striking. Courtesy Woodchip & Magnolia

To keep the balance in check, start by ensuring you let plenty of natural light into your home. Large, unobscured windows are ideal, but if you’re not lucky enough to have those, then there are plenty of design tricks that will help you maximise on any light that does enter the room. These include using mirrored surfaces to reflect the light, and choosing clear glass or Perspex finishes where possible, to give the light room to move around your space.

Plants are another simple choice when it comes to connecting with nature. Feng shui teaches that plants help to balance the energy in a room, and there are numerous studies showing the benefits of having plants around you, from reduced blood pressure and anxiety levels to improved attentiveness and reaction times, as well as improved well-being.

Ventilation is a less sexy subject but nevertheless important. Good ventilation reduces the risk of air pollutants gathering, such as fumes from cleaning products, and it can balance moisture levels. This in turn impacts health, especially for those with asthma or other respiratory conditions. Plus, a well ventilated house just smells nicer, which is essential for creating a comfortable environment.

Being cooped indoors during the summer months, with the air-conditioning blasting, makes ventilation tricky during this season, but what you can do is make sure your air-conditioning units are serviced properly every six months or so, so that the air you are breathing is as healthy as possible. Humidifiers will also help.

Making choices that are ecologically-friendly is another good way to make your home happy. Self-efficacy – our belief in our own ability and value – is an important factor in well-

being. By doing things that are beneficial to the world, we feel good about ourselves and our contribution. So as well as doing the planet some good, doing things like recycling, buying organic and saving

electricity also does us good.

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Read more:

An A to Z guide to your next home makeover

Six techniques to declutter your home for a satisfying start to the new year

Grey matters: transform your home with the ultimate neutral colour

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Treat all of your senses

Our well-being is affected by many different things, which we perceive with each of our senses. So, to create a home where you will feel truly happy, you need to ensure that you are targeting every one of them.

Visually, colour has been proven to have a huge impact on our mood, so think carefully before you get that paintbrush out. For example, bright yellows are cheery and optimistic, while red – a colour that naturally warns of a threat – can get the heart racing, stirring both passion and anger.

Ultimately though, it’s about what colour means to you, so pick ones that make you happy and you’ll be happier in your home.

To give your sense of smell a treat, invest in a few scented candles, aromatherapy diffusers, even pot pourri, if you want to go old school. Smell is a powerful reminder, so pick a scent that makes you smile, perhaps one that takes you back to a favourite holiday or a cherished childhood memory.

Texture is very evocative too, both visually and to run your hands over. Rough hewn wooden furniture, natural stone and slate, chunky wooden knits and sensuous silky fabrics all give a room depth and warmth, which make it feel more welcoming. This creates an inviting space in which to enjoy yourself.

And finally, hearing. You can give your home an instant mood makeover by creating musical playlists to suit every occasion. Whether you need a boost of energy, a romantic atmosphere or a soundtrack to relax and unwind to, music can instantly change the way your home feels.

Get organised

It doesn’t matter how beautifully your home is designed, if it looks like it’s recently been the site of a police raid, it’s never going to be the kind of environment where you will feel relaxed and happy.

A good place to start is making your bed. This simple act is what experts call a ‘keystone habit’ – one that will act as a foundation for a host of other good habits. After all, once you’ve made your bed, it’s only another small step to hang up the clothes that you dumped on the armchair the previous night. The effect will last, too, making you altogether more productive for the rest of

your day.

Create a space that appeals to all the senses, with colours that are visually striking and sounds that influence the mood. Courtesy Go Modern Furniture
Create a space that appeals to all the senses, with colours that are visually striking and sounds that influence the mood. Courtesy Go Modern Furniture

Of course, small acts of tidying only work in a house that’s relatively well organised to start with. Which is why you may need to set aside time to do a thorough declutter. After all, if you have too much stuff for your storage, it’s never going to look totally clear.

If you’re not sure where to start, try reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, which works on the principle that you should get rid of everything except those objects that genuinely “spark joy”. A great start for creating a happy home.

To maintain your new-found decluttered state, why not invest in a cleaner, assuming you don’t already have one, of course? Not only will the cleaning be done for you, but you’ll have a regular appointment for which you have to tidy up (you can’t expect your cleaner to mop the floor if it’s covered with clothes, can you?).

Organising chores is another great way to promote peace and well-being in the home, not only by ensuring that stuff gets done but by reducing the likelihood of arguments over whose turn it is for the dishes.

If you live in a bit of a madhouse, with kids and pets and general life getting in the way of creating that serenely happy home you dream of, at least make a small nook where you can feel that way.

Even something as simple as an armchair, side table and lamp facing a window with a beautiful view can help you escape the chaos for a few moments and will allow you to feel happier within your home.

Make it a sociable space

Numerous psychological studies have shown how important relationships are to our well-being. So, if your home can promote and strengthen your relationships, then it’s definitely going to help to make you happier.

Design each room to be as welcoming as possible, and to foster community. For example, don’t face all the seating in the living room towards the TV. Instead, angle it so as to encourage communication. Stick a table in the kitchen so whoever is cooking can do so with company.

And create a guest space so there’s always somewhere for visitors to stay, even if it’s nothing more than a sofa bed. Then invite people round.

Not that you always have to have people over in order for your house to be full of loved ones. Printing and displaying photos of friends and family will give you daily reminders of the special people in your life, and seeing snapshots of happy times gone by will invariably make you smile.

In the same way, displaying your treasure – from a beautiful shell picked up on holiday to an ornament received for a special birthday – acts as constant a reminder to practice gratitude for all the good times we have experienced.

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