10 Ways to Make Your Home a Haven
Updated: Aug 12, 2019
You know those home shows where the couple has to tour houses and choose between three? What amazes me about those shows is how obsessed people get over the same few things—double sinks, walk-in closets and “man caves”. Leaving aside the ridiculousness of a man needing a whole room to himself, it’s interesting that a familiar pattern emerges in these couples about what is a deal-breaker. It got me thinking about all the places I’ve lived, and the things that make me happiest. I love a big closet as much as the next person, but over time I’ve realized that more space invites more stuff and—for me—that makes it harder to relax and take care of myself. Plus I grew up in a household that didn’t have the luxury of worrying about double sinks...a lot of the time, my parents were just trying to pay the water bill.
My friends and I talk a lot about self-care, and in a recent conversation we started daydreaming about the best hotel rooms we have ever stayed in. As we listed our favorite things, we realized that there were tweaks we can make to our own homes that could help make it a safe place to find peace. Why did we have to drop loads of money just to be in a space that brings us joy and allows us to breathe deeply?
So, in no particular order, here are ten of my friend-sourced methods for making your house a haven! Some of them are practices, some are things. When possible, I’ve linked to some of my favorite finds. Remember there is no single thing that could ever replace paying attention to your mental health—but these things can help make life a little brighter.
1. Shower Spray (and more generally, smelling good)
There really is nothing better than walking into your home and getting hit with a scent that instantly calms you. There’s also nothing worse than layers and layers of different artificial scents on top of each other, so find something you love and stay in that same family—either the botanicals (Jasmine, Eucalyptus), citrus or sugary (Vanilla, Cinnamon), but not all three at once! Also don’t forget the power of steam; I recently discovered the amazingness of shower sprays, like this one I just picked up (but I’m guessing it wouldn’t be hard to make your own!)
If you’re already a VIP club member at The Container Store, you can skip this part. But if you’re like me and most of the people you know, you sometimes drool over Pinterest boards of expertly curated pantries full of highly organized containers. To get your mind right, it really helps to get your stuffright… but don’t try to do it all at once. It can get super overwhelming. Pick ONE place (for me it was my makeup drawer) and get down to business. Throw things away, get some cute containers, and bask in your clean space.
3. A better alarm clock
Please, STOP letting your alarm clock (whether on your phone or otherwise) scream at you to wake up every morning. It can’t be a good way to start your day, having a mini heart attack. Do a quick search for “gentle alarm clock” on the web and you’ll get tons of options, some of which even sync up with your sleep patterns. I have one that even has a light that fades on as the pleasant sounds ramp up slowly, while a few of my friends have alarm apps that make them do a small puzzle to turn it off, to get their brains working a little to start their day.
4. Greenery and citrus
This one is simple. Real or fake, who doesn’t love looking at a plant or a bowl of lemons? Science says it’s important to your health!
5. Tech free corner
You knew this one was coming, right? Now I’m not gonna nag at you to not take your phone to bed, or to leave it off the dinner table. You do you! I am going to gently suggest, though, that you name one part of your home as a tech-free space. This is where you can come for quiet, meditation, focus or even just flipping through a magazine without the constant threat of notifications. For me, I have one small chaise lounge in a corner next to a bookshelf and next to a window. Sometimes, all I do there is stare out at the sky.
6. Something pretty
Everyone has different tastes, but everyone has somethingthey like to look at. It might not even be functional or useful—it’s ok to have things that are purely decorative! This should be something that just instantly makes you smile. My thing is this awesome gold white board but one of my friend’s “thing” is a sequined stuffed pig she keeps on her dresser. To each their own!
7. Clean air
You can’t take care of yourself if you can’t breathe. Check your air filters and keep an eye out for mold. Indoor air quality can affect your physical and mental health, even if you can’t seethe culprits.
8. Notepads, Sticky Notes, Pens
There are a couple reasons I like to keep a collection of notepads and stickies around. First, I like to stash hotel notepads and pens when I travel for work, so that I can remember the cute (or not so cute) places I’ve stayed. I think self-care relies on fond memories we can be grateful for, so anything that triggers those is a good thing to keep around. I love having a pen on hand everywhere to capture random thoughts, and I especially love sticky notes for leaving myself or loved ones kind words. Plus, there are some super cute sticky notesout there these days.
It’s called mood lighting for a reason. My greatest nightmare is being trapped in a flourescent lit room. During the winter, I swear by my UV Lamp to ward off bouts of seasonal depression. I’ve been drooling over the Hue Lightslately, but they are pricey little things and are totally out of my price range for the number of track lights in my apartment! Luckily I found some super affordable stand-in light bulbs at IKEAthat not only make my heart happy, they make me look real good in selfies.
10. Clean water, always. Good ice. One real glass.
I have to admit, I need to use an app to remind me to drink water, even though I know how important it is. I know it might sound boring or obvious, but if you always have water at hand in your home, you’re more likely to have consistent energy levels and resist the urge to stress eat! If—like me—you need a little extra incentive to get hydrated and stop binging the coffee, get yourself a good filter pitcher or one of those awesome infusion pitchers. And in no wayshould you underestimate the power of the perfect ice cube.