Decorate With Intention: Let Your House Help You De-Stress

With the light waning earlier each evening as I write this in early November, it’s natural to be craving more downtime. After the seemingly endless shopping, working and errand running, it’s a relief to come home and finally rest up — but when we slip into that all-too-familiar routine of screen time and snacks right up until bed, our bodies and minds don’t have a chance to fully recharge. By setting up your space with care and establishing a few simple new routines, you can choose to replenish your energy instead. Take these 12 tips to heart and add your own favorite ways to undo stress in the Comments section.

1. Tend to green plants and fresh flowers. Living plants add fresh oxygen to the air and remove toxins, which is especially important for our homes in fall and winter, when we open our windows less often. But beyond plants’ air-purifying effect, the act of tending to living plants or arranging cut flowers is a wonderful way to let go of stress.

Decorate With Intention: Let Your House Help You De-Stress

2. Do something that recharges you beforeturning on the TV. If you are having trouble cutting back on a TV-watching habit, try this instead: Tell yourself that you are free to watch as much TV as you want, but first you must do something unplugged. Make a list of little treat activities you never seem to find the time for and pick one of them to try each night.
 3. Engage your senses.Create a haven for your senses with a fluffy rug and luscious textiles, beautiful music, favorite art and photography books, and a delicious room fragrance. Close your laptop, shut off the TV and allow yourself the simple pleasure of delighting your senses.

Decorate With Intention: Let Your House Help You De-Stress

4. Lower the lights before bed. Artificial light can throw off our natural sleep rhythms, especially at this time of year. Try getting out in the sun a bit each day and gradually lowering the lights for an hour or so before bed for a sounder sleep.

5. Establish boundaries between work and home.A fact of modern life for many of us is that we simply cannot leave work at work. But even if you must do some work at home, setting limits will go far toward preserving your personal space. Setting a cutoff time works well for many people (for example, no work after 9 p.m.), but try to give yourself a whole day completely without work as well.

Decorate With Intention: Let Your House Help You De-Stress

6. Set up a staging area near the door. Make a point of putting down everything you come in the door with — coat, bag, shoes and so on — as soon as you come in. Changing into comfy slippers and leaving your work and mail behind you will help signal a shift from outside worries to the comforts of home.

7. Fill your fridge and pantry with real food. When our schedules are overfilled, it seems easier to rely on takeout, but having healthy ingredients for meals and snacks on hand is often faster and cheaper than going to pick up food from a restaurant. If you’re truly strapped for time, perhaps try swapping out a few takeout meals with healthy snacks and high-quality ready-made food from the market.

Decorate With Intention: Let Your House Help You De-Stress

8. Set your table every night. No matter what you are serving, setting the table with real dishes, cloth napkins and candles nourishes more than just our bellies; it signals us to slow down and appreciate what we have.

9. Practice mindfulness while doing small chores. After dinner, instead of dreading the cleanup, view it as an opportunity to start a mini meditation practice. Focus on your breathing as you attend to the task at hand; when you notice your mind wandering, gently remind yourself to refocus on your breath.

10. Get social. Shake up your weeknight routine by inviting a friend over to share coffee and dessert, or even start a group around a common interest. If a book club sounds too serious, get creative — how about a wine- and cheese-tasting club, a periodical society to discuss favorite magazines, a film club or a crafts night?

Decorate With Intention: Let Your House Help You De-Stress

11. Make your bed every morning. Sometimes one simple thing can make your whole day go more smoothly, and I’ve found that making the bed is definitely one of those things. No matter how rushed your mornings, taking a moment to smooth those covers will give you a sense that things are in order.

12. Develop a simple 10-minute bedtime routine. Before turning in, take just 10 minutes to walk through the house putting things in their places. Run the dishwasher, toss laundry in baskets, put away books and papers, and set out your clothes and bag for the next day.

How to Decorate an Oddly Shaped Room

All those features the realtor called “distinctive” before you bought the house have a tendency to turn just plain obnoxious when the time comes to decorate. But not everyone has the space and resources to go all HGTV on their floor plan. Learn to love (or tolerate) your not-so-standard spaces with these tips.

Fireplace-and-furniture-placement-1285For a long, narrow room

If you have a bowling alley of a room, you’re not necessarily out of luck. The trick? Just because there isn’t a wall somewhere in the middle doesn’t mean you have to think of this room as one continuous space.

Use furniture to make a division of sorts, or area rugs to block out each end into its own space.  Also keep in mind that light, cool colors tend to recede, while warm, dark colors pop forward. Using them in combination (on the long walls and short walls, respectively) can help balance out the room.

2315705263_31d3aa21ba_zFor a small room

The trick to keeping a small room from looking even smaller is to pay attention to the size and scale of your furniture—anything that takes up a lot of perceived space can dwarf the whole room by comparison.

If your small room is a bedroom, wave goodbye to king-sized beds and giant wardrobes. In a living room, get used to curling up on a loveseat instead of an over-stuffed, full sized couch.  Avoid full-sized coffee tables and table lamps, and even large-printed bedspreads or carpets. Light colors on the wall can help a room feel airy, but keep in mind that too many colors can make a small room seem more cluttered than actually it is.

Dormer-windows-attic-bedroomFor a room with slanted walls/ceilings

If you live in an older house, odds are you have a couple wonky places where your upstairs living space meets the roof.  These slants can make a room feel more cramped, but that doesn’t mean you’re missing out on usable space–don’t be afraid to put it to work. Tuck a bench into a dormer window or a desk under that wall on which you would normally crack your head.

Some people choose to play up features like these by painting the dormer or slant a slightly different color than the rest of the room, but you may just want it to disappear, especially if the room is already small. Carrying a light, neutral wall color onto the ceiling (or a ceiling color onto the walls) can help a lot. Without a second color to break up the wall, your eye travels upward much easier, making the room feel taller.

97For one big room. (And that’s it)

Studio apartments, right? If you’re in a big city, they can be some of the most affordable living spaces around, but also the most intimidating to decorate. Like with a long narrow room, you’re going to need to stop thinking about your studio as a single room and start breaking it up into smaller living spaces.

This might seem counter-intuitive, as many studios are also tight on room, but having a few clearly defined living areas can actually make your apartment flow better. So instead of pushing all your furniture against the walls, position your couch perpendicular to one and section off the living room, or use a bookcase to separate your eating area from your bedroom.

One good takeaway from all this? Play to your “unique” room’s positives and try to avoid thinking that by treating it like a more standard space, it will become one.

How to Decorate an Oddly Shaped Room

All those features the realtor called “distinctive” before you bought the house have a tendency to turn just plain obnoxious when the time comes to decorate. But not everyone has the space and resources to go all HGTV on their floor plan. Learn to love (or tolerate) your not-so-standard spaces with these tips.

Fireplace-and-furniture-placement-1285For a long, narrow room

If you have a bowling alley of a room, you’re not necessarily out of luck. The trick? Just because there isn’t a wall somewhere in the middle doesn’t mean you have to think of this room as one continuous space.

Use furniture to make a division of sorts, or area rugs to block out each end into its own space.  Also keep in mind that light, cool colors tend to recede, while warm, dark colors pop forward. Using them in combination (on the long walls and short walls, respectively) can help balance out the room.

2315705263_31d3aa21ba_zFor a small room

The trick to keeping a small room from looking even smaller is to pay attention to the size and scale of your furniture—anything that takes up a lot of perceived space can dwarf the whole room by comparison.

If your small room is a bedroom, wave goodbye to king-sized beds and giant wardrobes. In a living room, get used to curling up on a loveseat instead of an over-stuffed, full sized couch.  Avoid full-sized coffee tables and table lamps, and even large-printed bedspreads or carpets. Light colors on the wall can help a room feel airy, but keep in mind that too many colors can make a small room seem more cluttered than actually it is.

Dormer-windows-attic-bedroomFor a room with slanted walls/ceilings

If you live in an older house, odds are you have a couple wonky places where your upstairs living space meets the roof.  These slants can make a room feel more cramped, but that doesn’t mean you’re missing out on usable space–don’t be afraid to put it to work. Tuck a bench into a dormer window or a desk under that wall on which you would normally crack your head.

Some people choose to play up features like these by painting the dormer or slant a slightly different color than the rest of the room, but you may just want it to disappear, especially if the room is already small. Carrying a light, neutral wall color onto the ceiling (or a ceiling color onto the walls) can help a lot. Without a second color to break up the wall, your eye travels upward much easier, making the room feel taller.

97For one big room. (And that’s it)

Studio apartments, right? If you’re in a big city, they can be some of the most affordable living spaces around, but also the most intimidating to decorate. Like with a long narrow room, you’re going to need to stop thinking about your studio as a single room and start breaking it up into smaller living spaces.

This might seem counter-intuitive, as many studios are also tight on room, but having a few clearly defined living areas can actually make your apartment flow better. So instead of pushing all your furniture against the walls, position your couch perpendicular to one and section off the living room, or use a bookcase to separate your eating area from your bedroom.

One good takeaway from all this? Play to your “unique” room’s positives and try to avoid thinking that by treating it like a more standard space, it will become one.

Decorate to Make Your Rental Feel Like Home with These Tips!

Even if your home sweet rental home isn’t 100% your own, you can still make it feel like home by adding some personal touches to your decorating.

Read on to make your rental house more “you” in minutes!

It’s a good idea, of course, to check your lease or consult with your landlord or community manager before you make any permanent changes to your rental home.

Feature your friends
There’s no easier way to personalize your rental house than by putting up a boatload of photos of your friends and family. Why not try a new framing technique like getting photos printed on canvas with an easy service like CanvasPop or inviting your best buds to help you create handcrafted artwork? Painting parties likeSocial Artworking are a fun way to include your friends in your home decorating and a great excuse to get together. Combine your art party with your housewarming party to kill two creative birds with one stone!

Personalize with plants

Adding a living, breathing element to your rental home will make it feel homier in an instant. Incorporate your favorite plants into your decor to add a nice personal touch. Plus, you can enjoy watching your plants grow as you get settled into your new space. While indoor plants bring a pop of color to your interior, consider adding container plants to your porch, patio or window box. Creating a beautiful containercan be a fun project that will make you smile every time you come home.

Get creative with camouflage

So far we’ve talked about adding your own personal touch to your rental house decor, but what if your new home is a little less attractive on the surface? Not to worry, just cover it up! If there is a spot you don’t like, camouflage it with something you really like. Create a temporary countertop cover with a pretty oilcloth, for instance.

When you see an area that is unappealing to you, get creative with your solutions to cover it up. If there’s a wall you’d like to dress up, try a little disguise with panel curtains. (You don’t need a real window, just pretend.) Panel curtains can actually solve a lot of problems, like unsightly closet doors. Removable wall decals are another non-permanent option.

Unstick the style

We’ll admit that sometimes there are situations that you can’t cover up. In cases like these, you need to unstick the style by adding your own flavor to it. Light fixtures can make a room look dated, but they are fairly easy to replace. Just remember to keep the old fixtures so you can put them back in place before you move! Often, if you are willing to foot the bill, your property manager might even appreciate you making a fixture fix-up.

Before you write off an outdated style, think of ways you can make it retro cool. Are you faced with an avocado green bathtub or appliances? Balance these shades with neutral tones. Try taupe bath towels, kitchen towels and other accessories. If you add enough of a color you like, you’ll barely notice the offender.

Little things matter

Finally, here’s one simple purchase that can make your rental home feel like your happy place: a welcome mat that shows off your style. A personalized, funny orpretty doormat will have a positive impact on everyone who crosses the threshold, including you!