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It may sound strange coming from someone who edited ELLE Decoration magazine for 13 years, but I don’t care what color you paint your walls or what wallpaper you choose.
What I really care about is that you enjoy it – in other words, your home makes you feel relaxed and happy. The good news is that even according to Instagram, Design for Happiness is one of the top interior trends this year.
We have finally seen the light! Color of the year decorations are being replaced by designing your home for fun, not for showing off.
It has never been more important. Due to the pandemic, many of us have spent the last two years mostly at home. We are also in the middle of what has been called the “age of anxiety.” Despite all our technology, we are primal, emotional beings at heart, and we need to feel safe and secure in order to be happy.
In short, a happy home is a healthy home. So, from throwing out the toaster to replacing the lights, here’s my quick guide to creating a happy, healthy home.
The key to creating a happy home is the palette – the combination of materials, finishes and colors that you want to surround yourself with (file photo)
COLORS OF HAPPINESS IN THE HOUSE
The key to creating a happy home is the palette – the mix of materials, finishes and colors you want to surround yourself with.
Scientists at the Flory Institute of Neurology and Mental Health in Melbourne have found that the color you paint a room with can make you feel calm, happy or sad. My golden rule is to choose six primary colors for the whole house.
Use these tones for walls and upholstery, then choose two accent colors for more dramatic hues that you use sparingly or for small accessories. The result will be harmonious, without any restrictions in terms of design.
BUY YOUR BEAUTIFUL BASICS
If “touchpoints”—those smaller, more important components of your home, from doorknobs to knives—are too small, awkward, or inadequate, they will be annoying on a daily basis.
Find designs that feel good in your hand and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. This is the only thing I would recommend you shell out for. However, quality handles, light switches, faucets, and handles can be expensive, so replace old ones gradually if your budget allows.
IT’S ALL ABOUT ADDED TEXTURE
When you pet an animal or enjoy a hug, it triggers the release of oxytocin, the love hormone. Thus, a true combination of textures that can be touched at home is vital to our well-being.
When you pet an animal or enjoy a hug, it triggers the release of oxytocin, the love hormone. Therefore, a true combination of textures that can be touched at home is vital to our well-being (file photo)
After all, why use identical flat cotton cushions on a sofa when you can use linen, wool, knit and sheepskin? You can never have too many pillows – they should be soft and comfortable, not immaculately cut in the middle like a fortune cookie.
Don’t forget about natural textures like sisal, rattan, plywood and cork. They are incredibly grounding because they connect you directly to the natural world. Finally, tiles. Never send them just to the kitchen or bathroom.
OPEN THE WINDOWS VERY WIDE
Daylight increases the levels of serotonin, our happiness hormone, so it’s important to have as much natural light as possible in the room. My favorite trick is to install very wide eaves so that the open curtains do not touch the glass.
If you have curtains, be sure to ask for it as this is not standard practice.
This is especially important in small rooms where you focus on the outside. And wash the windows! It’s so easy to do, but can let in 50 percent more light.
Daylight increases levels of serotonin, our happiness hormone, so it’s important to have as much natural light as possible in the room. (File photo)
CREATE AN EASY PLAN TO BE LATE
Along with natural light, artificial lighting can have a huge impact on our health—so much so that designers have begun to explore the concept of circadian lighting, which matches our natural sleep and wake cycles in tone and brightness.
Such systems are still in their infancy, but there are other ways to work with your body clock. Just follow the light outside – when it gets dark, turn off your overhead light and use smaller table lamps to help your body relax.
CHOOSE YOUR KITCHEN GADGETS
A UCLA study found that cluttered and unorganized homes increase stress hormone levels (file photo)
Clutter is the sworn enemy of peace. A UCLA study found that cluttered and unorganized homes increase stress hormone levels.
Nowhere is this more true than in the kitchen. To find out what you really use, empty all your cabinets of kitchen utensils and equipment. Put it all together and for the next ten days, select only what you need from this pile, and then put these items back into empty cabinets after use.
It is imperative that when you are preparing your next meal, choose only what has been replaced in these cabinets.
See what’s left at the end of this period and ask yourself how much of it you really need to keep.
THROW THIS “TOXIC” TOASTER
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), indoor air should contain no more than 25 micrograms of fine particles (toxic particles) per cubic meter, with the average toaster emitting 300-400, and burnt toast increasing this amount to 3000-4000. That’s more than 150 times the WHO limit (file photo)
It may seem controversial, but if you have a grill in your oven, throw out the toaster.
Why? Because, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), indoor air should contain no more than 25 micrograms of fine particles (toxic particles) per cubic meter, and the average toaster emits 300-400, and burnt toast increases this amount to 3000-4000. . This is more than 150 times the WHO limit!
The banned list also includes scented paraffin-based candles. Paraffin is a by-product of the oil industry, and inhaling its fumes is supposedly as bad for you as smoking cigarette smoke.
For cleaner burning, choose candles with cotton or paper wicks, which are made from non-GMO beeswax or soy wax and scented with only pure, natural essential oils.
ENJOY LEAF GREEN
Luckily, indoor plants are real air-purifying ninjas. NASA studies show that they can remove up to 87 percent of toxins from the air within 24 hours.
Try introducing the areca palm or snake plant (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue), which releases oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide at night, making it ideal for bedrooms.
And if you’re hopeless at keeping real plants alive, don’t worry—studies show that simply looking at images of foliage lowers your blood pressure. Instead, cover the wall with green wallpaper.
Try planting an areca palm or snake plant (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue), which releases oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide at night, making it ideal for bedrooms (file photo).
GET RID OF THE GAME ROOM
There is nothing sadder than virgin children’s rooms, decorated in the same style as the rest of the adult house.
Kids need to express themselves – let them choose the color of the walls (often bright), attach all their photos (often shaky) and display valuable items.
Likewise, ditch the playroom—separating children’s spaces from “adult” spaces deprives them of their rightful place in the heart of the family.
By all means, look out for a beautiful vault to collect everything at the end of the day.
USE THE BEST CHINA EVERY DAY
Keeping the “best” cutlery or crockery for “special occasions” when you have guests over means you don’t deserve to use it.
This is a subtle dig that gets right to the heart of self-esteem. Start dining like a champ with this fine china every day—every moment can be a “special event,” if you let it.
Michelle’s Happy Inside: How to Harness the Power of Home for Health and Happiness (Ebury, £20) is out now.