The end of the year is approaching fast and before you know it holidays,  travelling to visit family or family visiting with you and inevitable Christmas and New Year parties, will be upon us. After a busy year and in preparation for the holiday celebratory season we thought it would be a good time to talk about how to turn your home into a retreat where you can relieve your stress and feel a sense of tranquility and peace.  We have provided some ideas, insights and discuss the science behind making the changes in your home to accomplish this!

There is a reason we feel the way we do when we walk into a space whether it is in your work place, shopping centre or home.  Environmental Psychology "examines the way in which the natural environment and our built environments shape us as individuals." Basically, it is how the built environment influences our mood and behaviours.  

Biophilic design is a concept adopted by the building industry to "increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions." (Wikipedia)  It incorporates natural elements like wood, plants, and stone – and it can actually help to improve your overall health.  This supports studies that believe decorating with natural materials may be just as important as diet, exercise, and good rest in helping to reduce feelings of stress and improving creativity and mental clarity.

Lindsay T. Graham PhD, is a research specialist at the Centre for the Built Environment at the University of California at Berkeley, she says “Our homes can be incredibly important tools for shaping our daily experiences... How they’re organised, decorated and furnished can be curated to evoke a varied palette of feelings."

Colours, textures, furniture and soft furnishings, lighting, the scents used in your home and having an outdoor space, can have an impact on your mood.  Hopefully some of the following ideas can bring some inspiration and motivation to help create beautiful and relaxing improvements to your home...

1.  Colours are so important, they can induce different physical, emotional and psychological effects. Studies have shown that colours can have an impact on our mood and how we perceive the world by relieving anxiety and boost your confidence. Use colours that are soothing and relaxing to reduce stress or bright and cheerful colours to invoke feelings of happiness.  Colours that make you feel calm and balanced are great for spaces where you relax and unwind such as bathrooms and bedrooms.  

  • Green is quiet and restful, green is a soothing colour that can invite harmony and diffuse anxiety.
  • Blue is a peaceful colour that lowers blood pressure and evokes a sense of calm so can help manage stress, it makes you feel safe and relaxed. 
  • Purple is a tranquil and soothing colour that helps in the reduction of stress.
  • Yellow  is a cheerful colour that can improve your mood and therefore counteract stress.

2.  As we touched on earlier biophilic design promotes the use of nature's elements. The natural world is full of beauty, so let your home reflect that! If you have plants or flowers in your home, make sure they are placed in areas where they get plenty of sunlight and water.  Flowers improve your mood, even arranging flowers is a soothing, calming activity.  It is the combination of colour, smell and touch that contributes to the stress release.

Then try incorporating other natural elements into your design—such as wood or stone—to give your space an earthy, organic feel that will encourage relaxation.  Bathrooms in particular are an ideal space to make use of these elements.  You can create a spa-like retreat using tiles, basins, counter tops and mirrors in a combination of stone and timber finishes to achieve this feel.

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3.  The right kind of soft furnishings can create a feeling of peace in your home. It's all about the way the colours and textures interact with one another and creating a space again where you can unwind and relax.  Select cushions and throws that invite you to sit down - not ones that are merely ornamental and uncomfortable.  Choose fabrics for cushions that are comfortable and feather inserts to make them soft to lean against, and add throws that are made of faux fur, wool or cotton that look great and you can also snuggle into during the colder months.  

Soft furnishings are all about comfort and relaxation. They're a way for us to get away from the stressors of our everyday lives and just relax for a little while. There's no better way to do this than by curling up on a couch or chair in your favourite room with some soft blankets wrapped around you, or maybe even laying down on a soft rug in front of the fireplace. It doesn't matter where it is—what matters is that when we're surrounded by soft furnishings like these, we feel at ease and relaxed. And when we feel relaxed, we can focus better on the things that matter most: family time, self-care rituals.


4.  Lighting is another important area to consider in making your home a tranquil haven. Your primary light source will always be the ceiling fixture, but you can achieve an ambience and mood in a room by adding either a table lamp, floor lamp, candles or a fireplace.  They all provide a warmth and relaxation-inducing atmosphere that encourages you to enter a room, sit down and relax.   

 5.  Also, the power of smell is so important in helping you to decompress and release all those stressful factors in your life. Use essential oils in candles and diffusers to make your home smell beautiful as soon as you walk through your front door.  As with colours, different smells can help invoke different moods. 

    • Rosemary can reduce feelings of mental and physical tiredness due to its stimulating properties.
    • Lavender can help with emotional stress and improves tension, depression and headaches.
    • Lemon, orange and grapefruit can improve concentration and have calming properties and they are energising and uplifting.
    • Jasmine is well known to soothe tension and promote relaxation.
    • Ylang ylang can help calm you down after a stressful day and soothe negative moods.

6.   Finally, create an outdoor oasis where you can retreat to, by applying all of the above tips to this space.  You can make this area your own mini resort or spa hide-away.  At Design Den Down Under we can help with comfortable, stylish and more importantly, weatherproof cushions to help furnish and make this space both inviting and relaxing.  You just need to add the lighting and choice of scent to set the mood you wish to create.

  Sensate Interiors