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Designing for Well-being: Creating a Sanctuary at Home

In today's fast-paced world, finding moments of peace and tranquillity can feel like a luxury. As busy individuals balancing work, family, and social commitments, prioritizing our well-being often takes a back seat to our hectic schedules. If I can just squeeze one more task in before I have to dash off to the school pick up? Or if I multi-task cooking dinner, doing the washing and paying my tax bill it'll mean I can get to my Pilates class. Exhausting right?

However, creating a sanctuary at home where you can unwind, recharge, and reconnect with yourself is essential for maintaining that elusive balance and harmony in your life. So how can you design your home to promote well-being and create a nurturing environment that supports your physical, emotional, and spiritual health? And make sure that it's ticking all the boxes for everyone who lives there? Without having full burn out getting it right...

The Challenges of Modern Living. We face so many challenges in today's modern world, from balancing career aspirations with family commitments, managing stress and anxiety, and finding time for self-care amidst our overly busy schedules. It can feel really hard to manage everything, let alone prioritize our health and happiness. Whether you're single, with a partner, with a family or any other combination, finding time to prioritise you alone is hard. It's the holy grail really. Actual time with no commitments other than to yourself? Well that needs to be grabbed with both hands any chance you can.

How you ask? Starting small and getting your home organised is a great starting point. Declutter, get storage sorted and have a home for everything. Not searching for your phone charger every morning will give you that extra 5 minutes to just breathe...

The Importance of Creating a Sanctuary at Home. Despite the demands of modern life (or maybe because of it), carving out space for self-care and relaxation is essential. We all know we overdo it sometimes and it's becoming so much more important to prevent burn out and insist we take some time out for ourselves. Your home should be a sanctuary where you can escape from the chaos of the outside world and reconnect with yourself. Whether that is a place to quietly read a book in peace, somewhere to cook and create, your own yoga space or running machine to run away from your chores. We each have our own ways of relaxing and that needs to be accommodated in your home.

Enter the multi functional room. A room that can be part office, part yoga studio, part guest room. Or the living room with a dedicated reading area and lighting. Think about your rooms and how you might be able to adapt spaces to give them more than one purpose. It's a way of making your house bigger without increasing the footprint. Sneaky but brilliant right?

Biophilic design. What this means is tying in with nature. Aiming to reconnect humans with nature by incorporating natural elements and patterns into the built environment. It can be a struggle to find time to connect with nature amidst our busy schedules, and biophilic design offers an opportunity to bring the outdoors inside and reap the benefits of nature's healing properties.

The physical design of your home can also impact your physical health. For example, access to natural light and outdoor views has been linked to improved mood and cognitive function, while indoor air quality can affect respiratory health and overall wellbeing.

So throw open the curtains and clean the windows to bring in as much natural light as possible, nurture those indoor plants, and take time to stop and look at the views of nature. Relax, reduce your stress levels, and improve your well-being.

Quiet focus. In a hectic world filled with constant stimulation and distractions, having designated zones for relaxation and rejuvenation is essential for maintaining balance and harmony in your life.

Look to create cosy nooks and quiet corners where you can unwind with a book, practice mindfulness meditation, or simply enjoy a moment of solitude. Design these spaces with comfort, tranquillity, and serenity in mind, using soft lighting, plush furnishings, and soothing colours. And start forming habits with those spaces. Go to that cosy nook each day for 15 minutes of reading and after a while it will become muscle memory for you.

By creating a comfortable and inviting home environment, it can help reduce stress levels. Research conducted by the American Psychological Association found that individuals who described their home environment as cluttered or disorganized reported higher levels of cortisol, that pesky stress hormone, compared to those who described their home as tidy and organized. So I know it's boring to say it and even more boring to constantly do, but keeping your home tidy is going to really help you long term. If you struggle with this and don't know where to start then think about your storage. If everything has a home then it can go away somewhere. Simple right?

Indoor air quality can have a significant impact on our health and well-being. There are many ways to easily prioritize indoor air quality by incorporating natural ventilation (yes throw open those windows - even if it's for 15 minutes in the winter, get some air-purifying plants, and if you're redecorating then look at the wide range of low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints. If you're about to renovate or new build then consider installing a whole-house air filtration system to remove airborne pollutants and allergens.

Relaxing is a must. So to get the chilled vibes then our homes should be both comfortable and functional. That means making your furniture work hard for you supporting your daily activities and routines. But also making sure that it fits well into your home's style and feels aesthetically pleasing.

Think about comfort and ergonomics, and make sure that the furniture in your space allows movement and flow. Consider incorporating versatile and multi-functional pieces that can adapt to your changing needs and lifestyles, and try to prioritize clutter-free living (I know, easier said than done) to create a sense of space and serenity in your home.

Studies have shown that living in a well-designed and aesthetically pleasing environment can have a positive impact on mental health. According to research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, individuals who reported higher levels of satisfaction with their home environment also reported higher levels of psychological well-being. So might be worth a try?

And if relaxing equates to sleeping for you...then quality of sleep will be top of your agenda. The design and layout of your bedroom can significantly impact the quality of your sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, creating a calm and relaxing sleep environment, free from distractions and clutter, can help promote better sleep quality and improve overall wellbeing.

Have a look at your bedroom, can you clear some space? When you look at beautiful bedroom designs they all tend to have the bed as the focal point, plenty of wardrobes (unless you are lucky enough to have your own dressing area too), window dressing, lots of linens and cushions and layered lighting. That's it. No squeezing in tons of furniture, no piles of washing, no boxes of returns stacked up.

A Sense of Belonging. Creating a home environment that reflects your personality and values can foster a sense of belonging and connectedness. According to research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, individuals who felt a strong sense of attachment to their home reported higher levels of life satisfaction and wellbeing.

So think about what you have surrounding you (and without going too Marie Kondo on you) ask if they bring you joy? Do they have memories attached to them, do they lift your spirits, do they make you smile? Whatever these things are (and not just your kids) surround yourself with them.

Social Interaction. We all need it. Whether it's a now and again thing or you thrive on company - we all want to talk and share. A well-designed home can also facilitate social interaction and connection with others. Whether it's hosting gatherings with friends and family or simply having a comfortable space to relax and chat over a coffee, the design of your home can play a significant role in fostering social connections and relationships.

A great way to add flexible seating options to your home is by adding in stools that can act as side tables when not in use as an extra seat. It means you can easily accommodate people without having to move chairs from room to room. I'm all about the quick wins and this way you spend more time getting to socialise rather than fretting about how to cram everyone in!

Overall, creating a home environment that feels good and supports your health and wellbeing is a must for us all.  We need to nurture all aspects of ourselves, incorporating elements that promote relaxation, creativity, connection, and joy. Whether it's through thoughtful design choices, decluttering and organizing, or incorporating elements of nature and natural light, investing in your home environment can have a profound impact on your overall quality of life.

And as always if you need any help working out how to make your home your sanctuary then give me a shout. As you can tell I rather love a chat.

Photo credits: Andrea Goldman Design, Bloshom DK, Colombe, Mada Living, West of Main, The Nord Room, Apartment Therapy, Architectural Digest, AXXla. Daily Dream Decor, DGEXP home, Erika Interiors, Hendel and Hendel, Home Edit, House of Hackney, Jonathan Scott, Nymphs Workshop, Melanie Jade Design, Maie Parker, Pushka Home, The Identite, SH Nordic

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