Happy Home: 9 Design Tricks That May Bring More Joy to Your Interiors

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What makes a happy home? The people you share it with? The things you do inside it? The way it looks and feels? Most likely, it’s all of the above. While these first two factors are more specific to each family and household, there are certain design tricks that can make great strides in improving the third. From styling hacks to simple organization techniques, these 9 designer-approved pointers may help bring just a bit more joy inside your walls. Below, AD talks with Raffaela Perrone, director of the Design Department at IED Barcelona and graphic and interior designer Rocío Olmo about 9 simple design changes that can help make a happy home.

1. Take advantage of natural light

“The sun is life, and when a home is filled with sunlight, it’s a gift. The more natural light, direct or indirect, in a home, the better,” says Perrone. Research has shown that exposure to sunlight stimulates our defenses, strengthens our bones thanks to the assimilation of vitamin D, improves our mood, and relieves pain. In fact there’s an entire form of therapy, heliotherapy, based on the healing properties of sunbathing. For this reason, it can be beneficial to create lots of inviting spaces near the light. Consider placing an armchair to read, a desk to work at, or simply a bench to sit and relax in next to a window.

2. Get rid of overhead lighting

If you have a typical ceiling lamp in the middle of a room, it might be time to upgrade your lighting design. Or, at least, make sure that the light is projected towards the ceiling itself, which is Perrone’s advice. Olmo agrees and recommends using three to four different light sources which can create “a cozy, pleasant, and comfortable atmosphere.”

3. Make repairs as needed

Many of us get used to only using a certain faucet so that the water doesn’t spray across a bathroom or not turning on certain lights to avoid a short circuit. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to put an end to these little inconveniences? Gretchen Rubin, author of the bestseller The Happiness Project, says that not addressing little tasks like these ends up sapping your energy. In her method for leading a happier life, she says it’s best to make these repairs as soon as possible. All you need is a little free time and a toolbox—or the name of a handyman to help—and you’ll feel pleased with yourself every time you use that faucet or turn on that light in the future.

4. Open up the space

Though not as simple as some of the interior design tricks on the list, consider Olmo and Perrone’s next piece of advice as a long-term goal. “Houses with visually connected spaces, which avoid corridors and too many separate rooms, are more cheerful,” says Olmo. “You avoid having dark rooms and, visually, you enlarge the space.” Perrone agrees: “It’s better to have a few large, multifunctional rooms than many small rooms.”

5. Discard what you don’t need

It’s already a popular rallying call: Many of us have too much stuff, and not enough of it gets put to use. Marie Kondo, Fay Wolf, and Andrea Dekker are just a few of the many who equate orderly rooms with happier lives.

6. Highlight treasured objects

Nonetheless, a home doesn’t have to be near empty to make you happy. In fact, this purging should be done only so you can emphasize all of your collected treasures that “generate satisfaction, excitement, and warm memories,” says Perrone. If you infuse a space with your personality, you’ll feel more connected to it: “If you don’t identify with your home, you will never be happy in it; you’ll feel like an intruder in your home!” adds Olmo.

7. Go green

“Flowers and plants are the decorative ‘object’ that can [often] bring us the most happiness: they reflect the freedom of nature, are a natural air freshener, oxygenate our homes, and also introduce color and movement,” says Olmo. If you don’t have a green thumb, you can still find some hardy plants that don’t require too much work or expertise.

8. Follow your nose

Spas are designed to make you relax—and aromatherapy is partly responsible for that. Calming smells are just one one of the many subtle ways spas tell your brain and body that it’s time to take a breather. So why not apply this simple technique to your home as well? “Smells are very important at an emotional level, and fusing them with visual perception is an optimal combination,” Perrone says. Scented candles, handmade soaps, and essential oil diffusers can provide a home with a fragrance that evokes relaxation and comfort. Consider smells such as lavender, vanilla, or lemongrass, which are known to provide a cool, calm atmosphere. Of course, you can ultimately opt for any scent that makes you feel good.

9. Always make your bed

It may sound very overly simple, but, according to Rubin, incorporating a bed-making routine into your morning can be one of the most important, happiness-generating changes. Likewise, in The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg cites scientific studies that explain how carrying out this task is related to improved productivity throughout the day. It can even help train you with the discipline required to stay within a household budget. In addition, this simple gesture has a positive influence on our mood and encourages us to keep the rest of our home in order. “Tidying up is often a liberating act,” says Perrone, who adds that it also helps us to “navigate unsettling moments of change.”

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