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A home should be a sanctuary – a place to relax and feel calm, especially after a long or busy day. Too often though life gets busy and our homes start to become the opposite.
This is something I’ve experienced in our own home. As soon as a room starts to fill up with paperwork, piles of washing, or things that don’t belong, it can quickly get out of control.
If your home is starting to feel unwelcoming, now’s a great time to tackle it. With some small changes you can replace those feelings of overwhelm and stress with a more relaxed and calming atmosphere.
Here are 12 ways you can de-stress a room and bring it back to life.
How to de-stress a room
Declutter and organise
One of the biggest influences on how a room makes you feel is what’s inside it. If it’s been a while since you last tackled a room, it’s likely that there’s a lot of clutter and miscellaneous objects there that you can either move, store away, or get rid of.
I’ve talked before about how decluttering your home can be life-changing, and I really do mean it. A room that’s organised and with minimal distractions goes a long way towards feeling calmer and more relaxed.
It can be overwhelming to tackle a whole room, so start in one corner or with one type of object. If you want to de-stress your kitchen, for example, start by clearing everything off your worktops. Find a home for that tin of soup or tidy away that school letter. Once your worktop is clear it’s easier to work through another part of the room, like organising your fridge or sorting through your cupboards.
You can make this process as light or as thorough as you like – do what works best for you. At its simplest, you can declutter your space by:
- Putting all of your clutter in one place or pile
- Creating different piles for ‘keep’, ‘donate/reuse/recycle’, and ‘move to a different room’
- Sort through your clutter and organise it into piles
- For anything that’s being kept or moved to a different room, do that now (rather than later)
- For anything that’s being donated or recycled, bag it up ready to go
At the end of this step your room should be feeling lighter and less overwhelming.
Clean from top to bottom
Once your room is less cluttered, it’s much easier to clean.
If you can, take some time to give your room a thorough clean from top to bottom. Focus on all the areas that you might miss in a quick mid-week clean, like dusting skirting boards or cleaning under objects.
In each room there might be different things to clean. If you want to de-stress a room like your bedroom, now might be a great time to give inside your wardrobes a dust and clean too. In your bathroom, do the same with your under-sink storage or vanity units.
When you’re done, vacuum your room – you could even use something like Shake ‘n Vac* to refresh and scent your carpet. If you’re tackling your kitchen or somewhere with asuitable solid floor, try using a product like Zoflora* on your floor to clean and leave a lasting scent.
Consider your layout
Now that your room is clean and tidy, think about your furniture and the layout of the room. Is there a table that’s just not working in the space? Could you make the room feel more inviting by changing the position of the sofa?
Moving furniture around and designing your space is pretty exciting, and often prompts you to feel differently about a room. Our bedroom doubles up as my home office, and we recently changed the direction of the desk. It was only a small change but it completely transformed the flow of the space.
Before you start moving heavy items around, use a tool like Plan Your Room to design your space. You can drag and drop sofas, tables, wardrobes, beds, and just about any furniture you can think of. Move things around and see which layout offers you the most space to move around. Also consider the practicalities of the room – like whether you can see the TV from the sofa, and whether there’s enough space to open wardrobes or drawers.
One of the best ways to de-stress a room is to flood it with natural light. There’s something about light streaming through a window in the morning, or the setting sun in the evening, that really changes a room.
If it’s not already, make it one of your daily habits to open your curtains or blinds in every room in the morning. Even in the darkest of spaces this can be a big change.
For some spaces, like basements or darker rooms, natural light won’t be enough. Introduce more lighting into your space by changing a lampshade for one which allows more light through, and consider switching to brighter daylight bulbs.
As well as being functional, lighting can transform the atmosphere of a room. For a cosy, warming living space you could introduce a floor lamp by the sofa with a warmer bulb. One of our new favourites is our smart lighting kit from IKEA, which allows us to change the colour temperature and dim a light with a remote.
Introduce a calmer colour scheme
To really de-stress a room, you want to make it light, bright, and relaxing. That’s easy to do with a warm white on the walls, but harder if your walls are painted dark or feature a busy wallpaper.
If your room feels dark or cluttered even when it’s minimal, it’s time to think about repainting and introducing a lighter colour scheme. Choose a light, calm colour for your walls and repaint over a long weekend or in the evenings.
The majority of the walls in our new home are white, and it’s the perfect colour if you’re undecided on a colour scheme or theme for a room. In our bedroom we’ve chosen a pale grey-blue, one of the most calming shades and one that’s said to help you de-stress.
If in doubt, go for a warm white – our favourite is Dulux Timeless*.
Remove patterns and clashing prints
This works in tandem with Step 5, and it’s all about making a space feel more relaxing. A quick way to de-stress a room is to remove any unnecessary patterns, clashing colours, or loud prints.
You don’t want to remove all the personality from your room, but you do want it to feel calming. A room that has busy wallpaper, cushions in five different colours, and a collection of quirky artwork can easily tip the scale from fun to overwhelming.
Take a look around your room and remove anything that’s overly bold, bright, or busy. Live with the space for a day or two, and if it feels too stark, add things back piece by piece. If you have the budget, try replacing cushions or decor items with something more natural or muted.
Add softness through texture
While you’re thinking about decor items and accessories, consider whether they feel harsh and surprising, or soft and welcoming.
A great way to make a room feel more calm is to introduce softness and textures which feel nice to touch, like silk, velvet, or brushed cotton. One of the best ways to add softness to a room is with a rug, like we’ve done recently in our living room.
You can also introduce a sense of softness and calm through other textiles including curtains, bed linen, cushions, and table dressings.
Bring nature in
Want to de-stress a room quickly? Add a plant (or two)!
There’s something very relaxing about being surrounded by carefully-chosen plants, especially if their green leaves are set against a backdrop of white or pastel shades. There are so many amazing houseplants to choose from, but my favourites include the chinese money plant and the rubber plant.
If the idea of taking care of plants feels overwhelming, opt for an artificial plant instead. You can get some affordable versions of popular plants these days, like this artificial chinese money plant from IKEA.
Another alternative to adding plants to your room is to display fresh flowers. Not only do they brighten up a room, they’re a lovely way to treat yourself and feel good. It doesn’t have to be expensive either – look for your local greengrocers or market and you’ll find stems at an affordable price.
Have you ever walked into a place and been wowed by the way it smelled? Whether it’s the tempting smells of food cooking at a restaurant or a spritz of perfume as you pass a beauty counter, the right scent can lift our moods and set an atmosphere.
At home, one of my favourite ways to introduce scents is through candles and reed diffusers. I love the quality and range of scents from Wax Lyrical (here’s a post I wrote about their Lakes Collection), but you can also pick up scented candles from supermarkets or somewhere affordable like Primark.
If you don’t want to burn candles, reed diffusers are a great alternative. There’s also essential oils – we have a burner in the kitchen and the citrus-y scents are perfect for refreshing the room after cooking.
Share your memories
All of us have memories that make us smile, so bring some of those good times into your rooms through photographs, canvases, and mementos. While a clutter-free, minimal space is something I work towards, a family photo feels like it’s part of a room.
Find an evening where you have some time free, sit down, and look through your photos on your phone or camera. Choose your favourites, or even some that just make you smile, and order some prints. I used to love flicking through photo albums but these days we rarely print photos, so when we do it feels like they’re extra special.
When your prints are ready, source some beautiful frames to display them in. You could go for larger prints and create a gallery wall, or something more minimallike these pastel coloured House by John Lewis frames*.
Use technology wisely
When thinking about how to de-stress a room it can be tempting to banish technology almost completely. We all know how distracting our mobile phones can be, or how tempting it is to sit down in front of the TV instead of be productive.
I’m firmly in the camp that technology can be good, and can be especially helpful in creating a calming space. Take the smart lights I mentioned earlier for example – being able to dim the lights and make them warmer in the evenings means that cosy, film nights are that bit more atmospheric.
Another great use of technology is in the bedroom, where something like the Lumie Bodyclock* can help you to wake up in a more natural way.
Once you’ve successfully created a calming, relaxing room, you’ll want to keep it that way, right? My last tip is on how to de-stress a room for life, and that’s by setting rules. These aren’t boring, stressful, or strict rules – more ways that you want to live.
My favourite ‘rule’ for keeping a home clutter-free is that everything goes back in its place at the end of the day. That means that the kids’ room floor is free from toys, and the dining table is cleared of papers and school clutter. Other rules could include no dirty laundry in the bedroom, or that freshly washed clothes get put straight away.
See whether a few simple household rules could help you keep your rooms feeling calm and de-stressed.
Good luck with your next challenge
I’d love to know how you’re getting on with transforming your rooms into a more relaxing sanctuary. Leave a comment and tell me which room you’re focusing on, or share a win with the rest of us.
For ideas on how to keep your space de-stressed and organised, see my post on how to keep your home clean and tidy.