Using Décor to Reduce the Stress in your Home
by Lori Hethmon and Kiki Boswell
The modern world is a busy place and that alone can add stress to your life. Even when the individual tasks you perform are not stressful, adding it all up can cause anxiety. Whether you’re a young person starting your professional career, a new family with children to cart hither and nay, an empty nester with a demanding job, or a grandparent helping with grandchildren, life can feel way too busy.
Add in a home environment that is untidy, disorganized, or worst of all unpleasant to look at, and there is no respite for your overwhelm. Our brains fire off stress hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. If we stay in stress mode too often for long periods of time we can become numb to the constant state of anxiousness and ultimately suffer mentally and physically. Your home must provide places, spaces, and times where you and your tribe can quiet your minds and shut down the stress hormone valve.
When my children were coming up, I considered laundry to be my only natural predator. Once I made the laundry room an organized and attractive space, I didn’t completely dread going in there. In fact, it became a little getaway space. A beautiful laundry room is possible. When you create a pleasant environment, the unfortunate (and seemingly never-ending) chore of washing clothes becomes less anxiety-inducing. Chose colors that calm you and go all out in this space.
Pull clothes out of the dryer and lay each piece flat on a stack. This keeps out the wrinkles, makes the folding less daunting, is less time consuming, and doesn’t’ look like a mess if you can’t fold immediately. Seriously, try this.
The Master suite is ignored too often. We feel that since only immediate family sees it, it’s not as important to keep up. The reality is, the master suite is the sanctuary within the sanctuary. If you have a partner, this is your intimate space and should feel like it. This is where passion happens, where you confirm your love for each other. If you are single, this space is where you spend your time re-centering yourself, away from the world and you should feel calm enough in this space to do so. Use the color you have loved most since you were a child, your favorite color. If you have a partner Make an “us” pallet out of each of your favorites. Don’t be trendy, be you. Your favorite color is always going to be all about you.
Keep it tidy; make your bed every morning, keep clothes in their proper place or have a single chair to rest items on until there’s a moment to put them away. Don’t let your bedroom be the last place you tidy with limited time, make it the first. Protect this space by never bringing unfolded laundry or other housework into this space.
Bedrooms and baths
Sleep is critical to brain development, where your children go to bed and wake up sets the tone for their development. Like the master suite, the colors in the other bedroom suites should be specific to the occupant. Make these spaces come to life by collaborating with your family members. Balance the tone of their favorite shade to control the mood. A high energy child who loves yellow might respond well to a mellow yellow vs a bright stimulating yellow. Keep these rooms updated in order to make a timeless nest for relaxation. Tractors and motorcycles bordering the walls are super cute for your young sons, but not as reflective of their identities as they grow into young men.
While it is important to teach children tidiness it should be balanced with teaching independence as they age. Stress tidy behavior in the rest of the house, but give some leeway in their own space up to a reasonable point.
The Basement is another ball game entirely. The de-stressing for this room depends on who uses it and how. If this is the entertainment hub for family & friends, then it needs to feel fun. Go bold and lively or use your families favorite team colors in some way. If it’s an area to watch a quiet movie with the kids in the evening, you should focus on a more relaxed décor.
Try not to use this room as a storage dump- respect the space as an area where you can relax and connect with your tribe. Make sure to utilize closet space so that your basement doesn’t become yet another place you’re stressing over cleaning, but don’t let it become work. It’s a space where work can be left behind. Give yourself the freedom to be less tidy in this area. Don’t harp on the children in this space on a daily basis. Hold a pre-scheduled group clean once a month and do something fun afterward.
The kitchen is the largest area to conquer in order to allow every family member the opportunity to leave the stress outside the front door. This is the central hearth of the home and it should be inviting to everyone and a unique reflection of the family as a unit. If the décor in this important room reflects the uniqueness of the family, everyone will feel at home in it. Sure, we all want our homes to feel beautiful to our friends (maybe we secretly hope they’ll be jealous), but the home looks the best when it reflects our personalities. In this vein, I’d encourage you not to “decorate” your kitchen, but rather combine elements that you love. The countertop is the largest element in the room and when you select a top that is unique you set the tone for the kitchen and the rest of the home.
Think about the tone you want to express in the kitchen: serene, joyful, playful, relaxing, stunningly beautiful, unique, calming, warm, charming, or bright and find a stone or quartz that has the feeling you desire then build the rest of the kitchen around the tops.
Functionality is something to keep in mind, too. Have lots of good, strong organization tools built into this space as it is the most likely to get bombarded by mail, cell-phone chargers, snacks on the counters, backpacks, schoolwork, and bills. Try to incorporate a place for everything. I love decorative baskets to control the clutter. In fact, have a cell phone basket for youngsters to deposit the phone in while at home. This encourages family time and gets young brains off the addictive, electronic sauce.
No matter what room you are attempting to bring a sense of serenity into- my motto is to stop decorating. Think of your needs and desires and marry functionality with things that make your heart swell with joy. Beauty is timeless and cherished when it’s reflecting the humanness of the home. Respect yourself & your spaces enough to make your home the best place for you to recharge. When you follow that call, your design can’t go wrong.