One of my greatest desires for my home is that it is a sanctuary for all who enter – friends, family, heck, even the guy who came to replace our water softener. More than my desire for it to be updated or clean, what I want most is for my home to feel cozy and calm. I’ve learned over the years that what meets the needs of my friends and family is not a picture perfect home or a five star meal, but lots of love dished out in a relaxing setting. Here are 10 simple things I do to help create an atmosphere that allows us to all relax and unwind.
blankets – I’m a sucker for a cozy blanket (said every girl, ever, I know…). I love having them spread around the house for easy access when I want to snuggle up on the sofa with a good book or one of the kiddos…or both! Truth me told, it is a constant battle to keep them off the floor because of said kiddos, but one I gladly engage in on a daily basis because blankets are the ultimate cozy factor in my book!
plants – They are great for your air quality which is great for your brain which is great for your unwinding attempts. Plus they look pretty.
music – I have Spotify or Amazon Music (my latest and greatest discovery) cast on our tv nonstop when we are home. Music really sets the stage for the kind of environment you hope to create, so I tend to go with beats that are uplifting without being too intense. Kids are really susceptible to music, even if they don’t acknowledge it. On days where they are particularly whiney or crazy, I try to match my tunes with the desired effect I want to have; i.e., the crazier their behavior, the more mellow the music!
clean counter tops – At this point in my life, my house might start out clean when we all get up in the morning and will look like a tornado hit exactly 2.5 seconds after my boys’ feet hit the ground. That’s just a reality. It’s a little pointless to try and keep the floors spotless during their waking hours, but one thing that goes a long way in creating a sense of clean and calm is keeping the countertops clutter free all day long (in both the kitchen and bathroom). This takes more intention than it does hard work, especially since the counters are more my workspace than anybody else’s. Taking five minutes to clear and clean the counters instantly refreshes the room and reduces the sense of calamity.
clean dining room table – Same goes for my dining room table. As tempting as it might be to leave the table a mess, it helps improve my mood and add a sense of order when I take the time to clear away the dishes and wipe the table down after every use.
something simmering on the stove – Vanilla and water, an orange peel and cinnamon, a soup for dinner, heck – even a pot roast. It doesn’t matter what, but pleasant smells bubbling on the stove instantly makes the house feel like “home.”
baskets – I am a basket collector. Show me a pile of baskets at a thrift store and I’ll show them the way into my cart. Seriously. Wicker, hemp, jute, I don’t discriminate. I love how tossing my cloth napkins or Beatrice’s burp cloths into a basket not only adds order to a room, but instantly adds a cozy factor. Ugly remotes? Toss em in a basket! The three books I inevitably have going at all times? Look so cozy in a basket beside my sofa! What’s better than a pile of throw blankets? A pile of throw blankets in a huge wicker basket!
add a chair to your bedroom – I don’t know why, but I’m pretty sure it’s like a design rule or something that if you have a cool chair in your bedroom in will instantly make your bedroom look both cozy and chic. Win-win.
soft lighting, bright natural light – I like my room full of natural sunlight by day and lamps that cast a soft glow by night. Lighting is perhaps the single greatest way to add cheer to a room.
a central place to hide the toys – Oh boy, is this a big one. First of all, we hate having too many toys. Books, games, and crafting supplies I will welcome in spades, but toys are another story. We try to keep the collection simple and intentional, and I am constantly purging the toy box of broken pieces, trash, and toys that I thought were ok but the boys have since turned into a weapon and must be thrown out (sigh). We have all the boys’ toys in a toy box that my maternal grandfather made me, and Mike simply added a hinge on it that keeps the lid up to avoid smashed fingers. At the end of the day, it’s the boys’ responsibility to go throughout the house and put their toys away in this one, central location.
(Additional tip: If we get to the point where there are too many toys to fit in the toy box, that is our immediate clue that it’s time to purge again!)
flowers and something easy to pull out for last minute guests: Fresh flowers will instantly perk up and pull together a room. It’s as classy and timeless a look as Grace Kelly herself. I buy a bouquet every other week when I’m out grocery shopping. I also try to have something on hand, either in the freezer or in the cupboard, that I can pull out to offer last minute guests. As much as I’d always like to have something homemade to share, that just isn’t always realistic at this point in my life. But pull out a box of brightly colored macrons, place them on your prettiest serving tray, and plop them down on your cleared kitchen table next to your fresh flowers while your music is streaming, and PRESTO! Cozy, calm, collected. Enjoy.