Interiors

10 Interior Updates To Make Your Home More Relaxing

Designer Sarah Solis focuses on giving each space – and its inhabitants – room to breathe

The impact of space and environment on our wellbeing is undeniable, so how do we weave elements of self-care into the fabric of our homes? We asked five design experts to share their recommendations and personal self-care spins for uplifting interiors. By KATIE BERRINGTON

Lifestyle

Establish what makes you feel relaxed

“In order to create a home that caters to your wellbeing, it’s important to consider how you like to relax,” says Sophie Ashby, founder of Studio Ashby. “Is it by cooking, taking a long bath, reading on the sofa or entertaining friends? Once you’ve established that, design your space around it.” For Ashby, a key element within her home is “to be surrounded by lots of beautiful books so I can deep-dive into another world to help disconnect and engage my imagination in a way other than with work.”

Dedicate a space to self-care

It’s unlikely that the entirety of your home can be taken over by your most relaxing pursuits, so try to dedicate a particular spot to calming activities. “Carve out a relaxation spot,” suggests Courtney McLeod of New York design studio Right Meets Left. “For me, it’s a comfy chair where I like to curl up with a book and a glass of wine; I never work or do anything stressful in that spot. It can be anywhere in your home – perhaps baking relaxes you, so it’s a spot in the kitchen with all your supplies and recipe books, or it’s the place where you love to knit and listen to music.”

Sarah Solis, founder of her eponymous LA-based design studio, agrees. “Dedicated space for self-care can come in many forms. In my own life, I create a meditation space, reading space, art space and play space.”

Sarah Solis suggests creating dedicated spaces for meditation, relaxation and play
Utilize a soothing palette and natural textures to create a calming environment

Recognize the restorative power of homemaking

Michelle Ogundehin, author of Happy Inside: How to Harness the Power of Home for Health and Happiness, identifies just how essential our homes are to wellbeing. “[Your surroundings] impact every fiber of your being: your ability to focus and concentrate, your ability to relax and reboot, even your ability to sleep. And these are the bedrocks of wellbeing,” she says.

“At the end of the day, it’s a lot harder to make healthy food in a hectic kitchen, meditate in a space that’s dark, drab or messy, or work in an office that’s overcrowded or noisy. Happy Inside is my call to arms; my declaration that environment matters in the pursuit of wellbeing. And that homemaking isn’t fickle – it’s fundamental to good health and happiness.”

Sophie Ashby recommends upgrading small details to improve your space, such as displaying fresh flowers all year round
I’ve found that certain things – little changes to upgrade the ordinary – are important to me: treating myself to fresh, seasonal flowers, taking care of lots of plants, sleeping in crisp linens…
Sophie Ashby

Start with the small touches

It’s easy to assume that a total overhaul is necessary to elevate the level of tranquillity in your home, but there are plenty of quick ways to make a difference, shares Ashby. “I’ve found that certain things – little changes to upgrade the ordinary – are important to me: treating myself to fresh, seasonal flowers, taking care of lots of plants, sleeping in crisp linens, and making sure my daily rituals, like the morning cup of coffee, are done right.”

She suggests replacing standard bedsheets with white, high-thread-count sheets for an “instantly rejuvenating” update. For those with the time, resources and inclination, “making all lighting dimmable changes the mood of a space and can create a more relaxing and inviting home”, too.

I bring the feeling of calm through an organized floor plan, soothing color palette of varying neutrals with singular bold moments of color, and luxurious textures and materials
Sarah Solis

Listen to your senses

“The most important elements of my space are calming, inspiring and comfortable – and considering all your senses is key,” says Solis. “I bring the feeling of calm through an organized floor plan, soothing color palette of varying neutrals with singular bold moments of color, and luxurious textures and materials. All the lighting in my home is dimmable and scent is curated to each room or space, allowing for all senses to be experienced.”

Stay true to your style

Ogundehin encourages “cultivating the desire to have home as a place where you can be free to express yourself; to [literally] be ‘at home’ with yourself. To surround yourself with colors, fabrics, mementos and artworks that have personal meaning to you (rather than pieces dictated by external influences); to really take ownership of this, your personal corner of the world. This [will help to] create a space that supports and sustains you.”

Less clutter makes for a meaningful space, particularly when it comes to work areas, say Michelle Ogundehin and Sarah Solis
Hilton Carter describes his leafy approach to interior styling as embodying “full-on jungle tranquillity”

Bring the outside in

Plants always make a positive addition to your space, “not just because the vibrant greenery and inherent ‘aliveness’ make you in turn feel alive, but because they give you that all-important connection to nature,” Ashby believes. “At any given moment, I can tell you how many leaves there are on my rubber plant. I’ve had it for years and it’s a simple pleasure to water it, dust it, take care of it and watch it grow.”

Hilton Carter – a plant and interior stylist, and author of Wild at Home – is a talented “creator of green interiors” and champions an aesthetic of “full-on jungle tranquillity… I have green life wherever there is light, and wherever there is green life is where you can find me.” However, it is important to ensure that this doesn’t end up feeling like an extra chore. “The only thing to avoid in my case is bringing in too many plants and [therefore] making it hard for yourself to care for them.”

Minimize mess and elevate your storage

“The main thing I avoid, because I find it stressful, is mess and clutter,” says Ashby. “I am a big advocate of not wasting space by housing superfluous things I don’t really need. I am not a minimalist, but I only keep things that have significant meaning for me. Clever storage solutions are also vital in keeping the house and myself feeling harmonious.”

Similarly, “I look to avoid the use of energizing colors or layers of patterns in large areas,” says Solis. “I love the way it looks in photos, but find it uncomfortable to live with on a day-to-day basis. I also stray from using lots of pillows and layers of accessories – I prefer to have less clutter and intentionally allow for more space.”

‘Considered living’ is not about taking a minimalist approach, explains Michelle Ogundehin. Yet, paring back your palette and possessions will help you reset, says Sarah Solis

Consider ‘considered living’

“Do a clutter clear,” advises Ogundehin. “It’s about what I call ‘considered living’: limiting the distractions around you while increasing [the things that] support you, so that you can focus fully on living a purposeful life.”

Prioritize your sleeping space

It may not be the room you spend most of your waking hours in, but the place you lay your head is the space that could hold the most restorative potential. Carter has created a space in his bedroom that is covered in plants, “to make me feel as if I’m out in the wild, camping. Being at one with nature while you’re sleeping is complete peace.”

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