A calming retreat
Our surroundings can play a part in how we feel, so it’s wise to make an environment that helps you to feel relaxed and at ease. With a few simple tweaks, it’s possible to create an oasis of calm, somewhere to soothe away the woes of the day. Or if you work from home, a place that supports your creativity and productivity, free of too many distractions!
To achieve this, it’s good to establish what interiors you find relaxing and to work with what you have in your home rather than against it. Complimenting your existing interior will create a harmonious space and most of all it means you won’t have to completely redecorate – unless of course, you want to!
‘Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.’ – Mark Black
Reflect on what you find calming
Before you get going it’s useful to take a little time to think about the spaces that you find calming. Perhaps you’re drawn to traditional country interiors with their charming character and nostalgic feel, or maybe you prefer modern minimal rooms with an abundance of white space and clean lines. When it comes to our homes, there really are no rules because personal taste is a very subjective thing. What someone finds cosy and comforting another may find cluttered and chaotic, so it’s best to go with what feels right for you.
When you’ve established your preference consider how the calming quality of the interior has been achieved. Think about the colour scheme, the styling, the decorations, the lighting, the textures and even the aromas. All these factors will help you to recreate a similar look and feel in your home. And trust me when I say anything is possible, having lived in the tiniest rented studio flat on the Kings Road in Chelsea, I can confirm that you can make even the smallest of spaces feel like a cosy retreat.
Before you introduce anything new into the room, have a look at what you already have. If you’re limited on space or you prefer a slightly more minimal look then you may wish to have a declutter. Removing anything that no longer serves you can make a huge difference to the space. Especially if, like me, you’re someone who finds it hard to relax in a busy or cluttered environment. (Further reading: my decluttering tips.)
If you’ve spent a moment considering what relaxes you, you should have an idea of your preferred colour or colours. Maybe you’re drawn to the cool blues and turquoises of the sea or the warm greens of a forest. Whatever your personal preference, by introducing a few calming colours you should begin to see a difference in how the room looks and feels. If you live in rented accommodation and you’re not permitted to decorate or you don’t fancy getting out a paintbrush, you could introduce some coloured accessories such as cushions, a throw or a rug. That way you can inject your preferred colour without having to do too much work.
Adding some texture is a great way to make a room feel calm and cosy. Textures look and feel comforting and can soften a room. Consider fake fur, fleece, wool and linen and look out for cushions, blankets, throws and rugs. That way you’ll be able to change things around to reflect the seasons. Sumptuous throws and soft blankets are perfect for the chilly winter months. And by adding a hot drink and a good book you should have all the ingredients you need for a cosy evening in.
Lighting can transform the look and feel of a room and so it’s certainly something to address when creating a calm space. Have a look at the brightness and colour of your bulbs and if you have light shades, look at how they soften and direct the light. Freestanding lamps and sidelights are a great way to tone down the light and add atmosphere, many can be positioned to give you complete control over where the light is projected. This can help you to create a softer and calmer mood.
Whether you like large palms or cute cacti, there’s no denying that houseplants can bring life to a room. By introducing some greenery, you can begin to create a natural and serene environment, echoing the wonder of the great outdoors. It’s lovely to display plants with different patterns, colours and textures to recreate the calming essence of nature. And over the winter months when the trees are bare, it’s lovely to return home to some greenery. Houseplants are relatively inexpensive and make lovable little housemates! (Further reading: three simple ways to style your houseplants.)
Scented candles, reed diffusers, essential oils, joss sticks and pomanders can be used to introduce a calming aroma to a space. Choose fragrances that you love and ones that promote relaxation. Unwinding with a magazine, some soothing tunes and the scent of lavender is a great way to lift the pressures of the day.
There’s something comforting about being surrounded by your favourite belongings and sentimental items, and nothing says, ‘home sweet home’ more than the things that bring you joy. So why not display your favourite photographs and treasured possessions? This could be anything from postcards to handbags. I love displaying the things that I’ve collected and remind me of the world around – pretty shells, colourful crystals, houseplants as well as vintage objects and one-off pieces by artists and craftspeople. Things that evoke happy memories and make me smile. (Further reading: seven ways to add personality to your home.)
Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have a calm and beautiful day!
Parts of this text originally appeared in Breathe, issue nine.