While technology has made our lives much easier in some respects, the pace of life has greatly increased. It’s important to give yourself a ‘brain break’ from time to time, but it’s impossible to relax and focus if your home environment is cluttered, chaotic and unwelcoming. Taking a little time to create tranquil spaces at home in which you can unwind and start to focus on the present is crucial – your goal is to create a peaceful sanctuary you can retreat to at the end of a long day, where you can reconnect with the natural world and take some time out – without distractions. Interior designers share their favourite ways to create a ‘happy home’.
1. INTRODUCE ARTWORK
‘Every home and design should have some sort of story attached to it. If the design doesn’t tell a story about the homeowner, the house or the surrounding area, it can then lack depth and connection. Whether it be a design around an inherited piece of art or a celebration of the classical features of a property, this will help create the soul and character of a home and make it different to any other house,’ says Camilla Clarke, Creative Director of Albion Nord.
2. EVOKE JOY WITH COLOUR
‘Homes are the backdrop to life so it’s essential that the whole family feels literally ‘at home’ – comfortable in the idea that it reflects who they are. It’s always important that there is an overall design vision to a scheme. And it’s a mistake to compromise on everything so that nobody is happy. Look at plenty of design books and go easy on the big things like bold wall colour which will have a huge impact,’ says Martin Waller, Founder of Andrew Martin.
3. SIT COMFORTABLY
It is important to have somewhere to relax and unwind when you are at home. ‘Everybody sits differently, so sofas and chairs must be picked with individuals in mind not just on looks,’ explains Martin. Small decorative pieces can add so much to a room from a cushion in a tribal textile to an antique French mirror – collect things together which build a store of memories, rather than just furnishings.
4. LET IN LIGHT
Your home and well-being will benefit from a brighter space that makes the most of all available natural light. Being at the mercies of a climate, which is fair to describe as challenging, it is no surprise that the British have taken the modern approach to home design to heart, using expanses of glass to let in as much daylight as possible. Natural light has a huge effect on mood and wellbeing so it makes sense to make the most of it in your home.
Skylights are often a good choice as the pitch of the roof usually makes it difficult for neighbours to peer in, even in the most built up areas. Where privacy is not an issue, consider extending glazing or even adding double doors to provide a picturesque view as well as plentiful light. On smaller scale, architects and designer are often keen to steal light from an adjoining rooms. ‘Use mirrors to reflect and amplify natural light, making the space feel brighter and more open,’ says Lesley Taylor, design director of Taylor’s Etc.
5. REVEL IN NATURE
Even small or awkwardly shaped outdoor spaces can be transformed with a considered layout and creative planting. Small gardens, city terraces, balconies and even unloved corners can all make enticing outdoor spaces with a little care and attention. Visual tricks, good lighting, interesting planting and comfortable seating will play to the strengths of the most awkward or compact of gardens. Use planting to soften hard features. In smaller spaces, a sculpted, streamlined look can work best, such as stone paved terraces, or other materials, whether brick or paint, that that reference the property, combining inside with outside. Alternatively, bring nature indoors with the best houseplants to assist with oxygen circulation and air purification.