16 Tips for Creating a Healthy, Happy Home

Use these 16 tips to create a healthy and happy home that supports your family’s lifestyle goals—all for little or no money.

| May/June 2014

Have you ever stepped into a well-designed room and felt instantly calm?

Or conversely, walked into a cluttered, hectic space and felt suddenly on edge? Our surroundings affect our emotions and our mental state. Most well-designed homes share common elements—pleasing colors, views of the outdoors, uncluttered surfaces and interesting accessories that convey something about the personality of their owner. We can tailor our homes to our own unique vision, creating a home that supports us in our quest to live a naturally healthy lifestyle tied to the cycles of the seasons. Use these tips as a jumping-off point to create a beautiful, peaceful, happy home perfectly suited to your family’s life.

Serene by Design

Spending time in spaces we love can help us relax, recharge and prepare to face the world. Use these design tricks to create a soothing atmosphere in your home. 

1. Lighten up. To promote a feeling of calm in any room, try a soft palette of whites, pastels and neutrals. “Beautiful pastels add an unexpected softness to interiors,” says Santa Fe, New Mexico, designer Jennifer Ashton. “I like white, too—both as a wall color and an accent—and I especially like the way white looks against natural and earth tones.” Need just the right white? Top white paint recommendations from the popular design website Apartment Therapy include Benjamin Moore’s Super White, Linen White and China White; the brand’s Natura line contains no volatile organic compounds (chemicals that offgas at room temperature and contribute to poor indoor air quality).

2. Blend textures. Combining a variety of textures in a room is a designer’s trick to add subtle visual interest. Try using a mix of soft and hard elements to create balance. If you have a contemporary, angular couch, you might add a fluffy throw. If your chairs are soft and slouchy, pair them with something sleek such as a glass coffee table. Experiment with tactile fabrics such as smooth silk, soft wool or nubby linen, and rustic materials such as handcarved wood, oil-rubbed steel and natural stone.

3. See the light. Lighting is an often-underappreciated element that can have a huge impact on whether a space feels warm and bright or drab and dreary. Often just changing a light fixture will bring new personality to a room. Consider installing dimmers to overhead fixtures to alter light levels for various needs and moods. Table lamps add warmth to living spaces, and task lights can reduce eyestrain for reading and up-close work. Seek out energy-efficient LEDs, many of which work in compatible dimmable fixtures. Experiment with nontraditional light sources, too; put out a collection of vintage oil lamps (check out Lehmans) to create ambience for a romantic dinner, or string holiday lights on a mantle to add sparkle to a party.

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