Be your best self in the place that matters most. Follow these simple design steps and create a mindful home that promotes positivity, boosts wellbeing and encourages relaxation.
Words: Róisín Carabine
Home is where the heart is – until it isn’t. If lockdown has got you looking at your home as less of a haven, and more like a prison, it’s time to adopt a new attitude and a new way of decorating. Cue mindfulness, a practice that focuses on improving good mental health and wellbeing by paying attention to the present moment, our bodies and our surroundings. In interior design terms, it translates as a simple, uncluttered, balanced, authentic home that reflects who you are – your needs, interests and values – and makes you feel good about yourself.
We’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help you feel more at ease in your space and survive staying-at-home. No crazy scientific claims—just some pretty product picks and strategic mindful design moves.
Image: The Organised Store
Craft the Clutter
There’s a reason why the KonMari Method (by tidy expert Marie Kondo) works: a tidy home really does equal a tidy mind. But tidying isn’t just about decluttering; it’s also about how you organise those things that ‘spark joy’, and that means getting creative with your storage solutions. We love this custom Elfa wardrobe system (from Organisedstore.ie) with gliding drawers, racks and shelving -perfectly discreet for open plan spaces.
Create open spaces
To channel the sort of calm reflection a mindful home is meant to attain, it’s not enough to declutter. Try to create an open floor plan with sight lines through your home to the garden. Swap solid doors for glazed ones and punch out openings in walls to create through-views. Consider too, low-to-the-ground furniture, positioned away from walls (like this Unwind left-hand facing sofa, €3,769, DFS) which will make rooms feel more expansive – and soothing.
Maximise natural light
Exposure to natural light can help boost mood, increase energy levels and improve sleep, according to the experts. To ensure maximum exposure indoors, get rid of curtains or consider switching to sheer panels or blinds (pictured: Tetbury Natural Roman blind, from €135, including measuring and fitting, Hillarys.ie). Installing light therapy lamps to combat the lack of light in winter months can improve the symptoms of SAD among sufferers by up to 80 per cent.
Image: Garden Trading
Find beauty in everything
A mindful home sees beauty everywhere. Translate this philosophy into your design by giving a makeover to items that are traditionally considered less appealing – like plastic waste bins, laundry baskets, ironing boards and clothes airers. We love this beech Zig Zag dryer from €45, Gardentrading.co.uk.
Image: S Alternative
Decorate with natural materials
While a mindful home is all about perfecting a zen interior, sometimes a minimalist approach can make a space feel cold and sterile. Add warmth and calm with natural materials – wooden furniture, bamboo flooring, wool rugs, rattan storage, marble worktops – sustainably sourced from companies that engage in ethical practices. This Mariana cupboard, made from pine wood with rattan doors, by Bloomingville (€799, Salternativefurniture.ie) is the perfect natural pick-me-up.
A mindful home is one that is free from toxins. The best way to achieve this, according to the experts at NASA, is to fill your home with plants. Not only do plants neutralise toxins, they pump out fresh oxygen and have a calming and healing effect on the mind to boot. For advice on which plants work best where (and with pets) read How to Grow Fresh Air by ex NASA scientist (and principal investigator of its Clean Air Study) Bill Wolverton.
Harness the power of sleep
A simple mindfulness exercise involves paying attention to your breathing and listening to the sounds around you. Get rid of tech (TVs, laptops, mobile phones – anything that emits blue light and noise), choose calming colours and invest in breathable bedlinen (like this 100% cotton Claybourne duvet set (Blush) with two pillowcases from €30, Harveynorman.ie). Transforming your bedroom into the ultimate sleep sanctuary will allow you to get the best rest possible.
Image: EZ Living Interiors
Focus on comfort
As well as simplicity and utility. Don’t crowd a space with too many pieces. Instead focus on a few standout things that you really love – a statement sofa (Scott green velvet two and half seater sofa, €1.199, Ezliving-interiors.ie), custom storage or an eye-catching light. Adopt a ‘buy once, buy well’ approach to design and consider an item’s usefulness (and longevity) before you let it into your home.
Embrace neutral colours
As well as showing off your home’s furnishings and architectural details, neutral colours also have the added benefit of making rooms feel brighter and airer. That plus calming vibes. Add interest by layering different hues of the same tone (this living room mixes Dulux Brave Ground with Vintage Coins and Cacao Nibs) and experimenting with finishes; offset matt with gloss and chalky with satin.
Image: Tubs and Tiles
Make space for selfcare
Mindfulness is all about selfcare. In interior design that translates as thoughtfully planned spaces designed to boost wellbeing. Optimise your home for health and happiness by transforming a spare bedroom into a gym, making space for a hot tub in the garden or redesigning your bathroom into an at-home spa complete with giant tub (à la this inspiring suite from Tubstiles.ie).
Image: Hicken Lighting
Be more energy efficient
By making a few energy-efficient changes in your home, you can create a more positive, mindful environment. Consider using a clothes horse instead of a dryer, open curtains to maximise solar gain, switch to LED lights on dimmers (Där Lighting Liden three-light bar pendant, Hickenlighting.com) and install a smart metre to help you reduce energy consumption.
Reinforce the positive
Creating a ‘positivity’ gallery wall – filled with beautiful images, inspirational quotes and affirmations – is a brilliant way to boost your confidence and can even help you achieve your goals. According to Healthyplace.com, ‘it’s easier to think more positively when you are faced with visual reminders that make you feel good’. Create your own wall at home with images from Desenio.ie, from just €3.71.
Image: The Pickleson Co.
Pick the right paint
Picking the right paint for your home isn’t just about colour and finishes. Consider paints that are low in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), antimicrobial (The Pickleson Co.’s new Protego Antimicrobial paint protects against fungi, mould and can even reduce SARS-COV-2) and breathable. Crown’s new Breatheasy Matt and Silk emulsions (pictured) are 99% solvent free and certified allergy and asthma friendly.
“As the centre of household activity, kitchens can easily become all about the practical.,” says Neptune’s in-house stylist, Meaghan Hunter. She advises cultivating harmony by organising cabinets by purpose and introducing decorative elements, like paintings and plants to open shelves. “Thinking about the way you vary heights, materials, shapes and orientations around your shelves too will breathe visually balanced sentiment into the space, allowing the kitchen to step forward as a comfortable and engaging room.”
Incorporate a ‘me’ space
Whether it’s a room, a stolen spot on the landing or a chair by a window in the bedroom (Wilson accent chair, €430, Next.ie), it’s important to claim a space for yourself within your home - somewhere you can read a book, meditate or just chill. Mental health professionals recommend spending at least 20 minutes a day doing something for yourself.
5 of the best…. Home fragrances
5 natural scents to uplift your senses and clean the air
Lavender & Eucalyptus room spray with essential oil, €18.15, Cleanslate.ie
Bay Leaf & Bergamot (travel size) natural soy candle, €12.95, Somasstudio.com
All is Calm, Burnt Amber & Patchouli, natural soy candle, €30 Janedarcy.ie
Mandarin 100% pure essential oil, €11, Thenatureofthings.ie
La Bougie Mission Fig salt diffuser, €33, Meadowsandbyrne.com
What the pros know!
Writer, TV presenter and ‘Happy Inside’ author Michelle Ogundehin shares her seven starter steps to a healthy, happy home…
- Most of us do not need more space to live well, we need less stuff and a rethink of the space that we do have.
- Your homeis a reflection ofyou. Look at what you own with new eyes. Which colours uplift you? Which materials do you always reach out to touch?
- This personal and favourite collection of materials,coloursand prints, is your palette, the cornerstone of the happy inside home philosophy. In my book I detail precisely how to pull this together.
- Anything thatcan'tbe upcycled, converted or brought into line with this palette needs to be marked for removal. What you have left must then be curated. Get tough and jettison what's not essential, personal, or considered beautiful.
- Dispatch too things that might inadvertently pollute your home. Paraffin wax candles. Toxic cleaning solutions. High VOC paints. Anything syntheticegcarpets or fabrics.
- Remember that you too are part of the energy metric of your home.Somake 30 minutes of daily exercise as habitual as cleaning your teeth.
- Finally, never forget that this isyourhome, so in this most private corner of the world do whatever lights your decorative fire. Be bold. Be brave. Be you!
Happy Inside: How to Harness the Power of Home for Health and Happiness, published by Ebury Press, €23