Here's how to create a well-designed space that gives you the best chance at a happy and tranquil life

We are hearing a lot about self-care these days—meditation, exercise and eating well all falling under that umbrella. But how can we change our environment to help that process? I’m a believer in surrounding yourself with things and people that make you happy.

In my business, my goal is to ensure that your space is offering you the best self-care it can give, so here are my top tips for creating a happy home. Let’s look at it from the perspective of the five senses...

 

1. Sight

SightTrevor CooperThere’s a lot to be said about the visual. In fact, just looking at a pristine lake can lower your stress levels. Your home needs to make you feel that way as well.

Colour has a big impact on our moods: blue, green, grey, pink, violet and white all encourage a peaceful environment. Incorporate colour into your space through furniture, decor, art and paint. I like to keep my furniture pieces neutral and add colour with beautiful art and decor. It allows me to change things up once in a while.

Art is an excellent mood lifter as well. Consider a picture of a stormy sea—it likely doesn't evoke great feelings of joy. Instead, choose uplifting images. Another form of art is photos of your family. Have them framed properly and take the time to choose the best sized frames for the location you are hanging them in. I love seeing photographs of my kids when they were little—it helps me to be a better mom when they get on my nerves!

Coming home to a clean and organized space makes people feel calmer, too. I spend a great deal of time planning those details for clients. For example, I like to put cubbies in an office to hide those items you haven’t had time to file. I also install drawers where clutter collects, and place counters near the back door for storing purses and phones.

Closet design is very important as well. You need to be able to see what you own—otherwise, you won’t use your belongings.

 

2. Sound

trish isabeyWhen it comes to sound, it's all about location, location, location. If you live near a busy highway, hospital or airport you will likely hear of noise. Conversely, if your house is near a bubbling stream or backed onto a forest, you'll hear sounds that inspire tranquility and peace

Therefore, a water feature can be a very calming sound—you can even have these indoors. They can be visually appealing and provide the benefit of the soothing sounds of nature. Sound-proofing rooms with insulation can be beneficial as well, especially for sleep. In my case, I like to have friends over for dinner parties but we have young kids. As a result, we decided to insulate the walls of our bedrooms and planned our house to have separation between the sleeping areas and our main level. This ensures that sound doesn't travel as easily to the children's rooms.

When done properly, window coverings are a great addition. I can’t tell you how many homes I’ve worked on where the homeowners have scrimped on window coverings. This is an investment that makes a great impact in terms of privacy, sound reduction, insulation and style. It’s big bang for your buck!

Music can also be a big mood changer, so a great home sound system also has benefits. Consider wiring your home for in-ceiling speakers or looking into wireless options. Choose high-quality speakers for the best audio experience.

 

3. Touch

TouchTrevor CooperThe fabric on your couch, the sheets on your bed, the carpet under your feet—all of these things make a difference in how your home feels. Even walking on an unheated tile floor can be uncomfortable. Small details make a big impact.

Choose the fabric for your furniture carefully. For example, performance fabrics can alleviate worries over spilling, so you can relax when you are having people over or just enjoying some family time. How your furniture is constructed also makes a big difference—we’ve all sat on couches that sag or didn’t support our backs properly.

I’m a big believer in investing in quality pieces. You can always reupholster something if you get tired of the fabric. The same goes for a great mattress—it's likely one of, if not the, most important item in your home. So much of life is determined by a quality sleep. Don’t underestimate the importance of good bedding either. You (hopefully!) spend eight hours a day in your bed, so this is not an area you should scrimp on.

Area rugs can really warm up a space, too. I like to use them under beds—that way, you don’t step onto a cold floor when you wake up in the morning. If you don’t have heated floors in your tiled areas, you can always use area carpets to make the space a little cozier. 

 

4. Smell

SmellThe sense of smell can transport you to different memories. It can make you feel good or bad. Here are a few ways you can make sure your home is filled with good smells.

It’s important to invest in a good hood fan in your kitchen. You don’t want to be smelling your dinner for days on end.

I also like to put the same scent diffuser throughout different levels of my home. It’s very subtle, but smells really beautiful. It's such a great welcome when you walk in the door!

A closet lined in cedar can be both practical (to keep moths at bay) and also provides a delightful aroma.

At the same time, you need to protect your home from bad smellsproper fans in bathrooms, laundry storage as well as garbage, recycling and compost areasare details you can’t ignore.

Odour-reducing plants can also help. They remove toxins and add oxygen to the air. Small plants won’t sufficechoose 6- to 8-inch plants. Peace lilies and green spider plants are a good example. Studies show that 15 to18 plants are effective for an 1800-square-foot home (holy, that’s a lot!), so hopefully you have a green thumb or you’re a quick study. Of course, the benefit to having plants is visual as well.

 

4. Taste

kitchenColin JewallInterior design doesn't directly impact your sense of taste, per se, but you can certainly improve cooking experiences by ensuring your kitchen and dining space are done properly. The layout of your kitchen is key: it will make you much more efficient when you are working in it, which should make it more likely that you will want to cook!

The area you eat in is important as well. I try to encourage my clients to plan for face-to-face meals—I’m old-fashioned this way. I believe that you need time every day to break bread with your family, to talk about your day and unwind. If I could make this an Internet-free zone, I would!

Lighting is key in both the dining and kitchen areas. You need great task lighting above your prep area in your kitchen, and the rest of the room needs proper lighting as well. As for elements that affect the actual sense of taste, those are up to you! Hopefully, you’re a good cook!

As they say, home is where you hang your hat. So hang your hat in a well-designed space that gives you the best chance at a happy and tranquil life.