Are big life changes adding stress to your day-to-day life? Maybe you’re facing a big move or career change, or perhaps your kids are getting ready to head to college or you’re just starting a family. Or maybe, like many of us, you’re just feeling overwhelmed by current events!

The world can feel chaotic and overwhelming, but your home doesn’t have to be. In fact, a well-designed home can be a grounding, centering space where we can process and even momentarily escape some of the stressors of life.

Want some help transforming your home into a peaceful and calming zen space? Read this list of 10 interior design tips to transform your home into a haven away from the world’s stresses.

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1. Use a Neutral Color Palette

When it comes to interior design, neutral tones are easier on the eye than bright colors. As such, using a neutral color palette can help promote a sense of calm in your home—making it feel like a true sanctuary. However, make sure your neutrals aren’t too stark; add some warm neutrals, like gold, pale tan, or faded yellow to keep your space from looking sterile. Another great way to add visual warmth is to decorate with textures and natural materials. This helps balance out white or brighter neutral tones, adding warmth and visual interest.

“Neutral, neutral, neutral! Don’t worry—everything doesn’t have to be beige! To create a calming ambiance you can pull in a few colors like blue-grays, pale greens, or dusty mauves. The trick is to keep the palette light and airy to lift the spirit and the mood!” –Shelly S., Modsy Designer

“A light neutral palette is uplifting and leaves space for whatever emotion is being processed at the time.” –Peter C., Modsy Designer

2. Add a Pop of Punchy Color

Just because you opt for a neutral color palette doesn’t mean you have to avoid vibrant colors! In fact, pops of color can promote feelings of happiness and positivity! So, add in a few brightly colored accessories such as pillows, vases, or artwork. If you want to make even more of a visual statement, cluster a few colored pieces of decor together to create a focal point that maximizes the joyful effect in your space. Adding punchy pops of color in small amounts throughout your home allows you to have a moment of joy every time you pass by it. Another way to add pops of color? Natural greenery! Plants can add color throughout your home while also boosting your mood!

“If neutrals leave you feeling a little ‘meh,’ try incorporating little pops of color. Color therapy can have a tremendous effect on seasonal mood disorder and depression, so adding bold color in art, decorative accents, or even books helps create a space that feels cheerful and optimistic with little commitment and cost.” –Hope C., Modsy Designer

“Greenery is a must! Plants have been clinically shown to promote a better sense of well-being and reduce stress. Adding natural elements grounds the space, looks beautiful, and brings some soul to the space!” –Shelly S., Modsy Designer

3. Display Personal Photos

When it comes to wall art and tabletop decor, consider incorporating personal photos. Framed photos of the people you love, pets, or places you’ve traveled can take your mind to pleasant places! Keeping images of loved ones on display can also have a grounding, calming effect. Not into displaying personal photos? Store them in easily accessible albums or boxes so you can access them whenever you need a boost!

“Personal photos can add a sense of ownership to your space and bring you a lot of joy. If you have some favorite photos from a vacation or moment in your life, take the time to print them out, properly frame them, and display them in a place that makes sense to you. Guests will love seeing them too!” –Katherine B., Modsy Designer

4. Soften Your Space with Textiles

Textiles like blankets, throw pillows, and drapes are a great way to add visual depth and texture to your space. Purposefully long curtains that pool on the floor, loose-fitting slipcovers, and comfy throw pillows all add a sense of ease and livability to a room. And materials such as knits, linen, velvet, and suede can look and feel particularly relaxing.

“Layer those natural and cozy textures. I love mixing natural textures (rattan, jute, wood) with those that I find plush and cozy (cotton, boucle, faux fur, and even linen). Make sure to not introduce too many layers, though, as this can start to detract from the calming effect we’re looking to create. For example, if you’re hoping to bring more peace into your bedroom, start out by mixing a natural woven bed frame with a plush rug or swap that idea with a linen upholstered bed frame and a jute rug.” –Becky S., Modsy Designer

Designer Tip: With throw pillows, use a variety of shapes and sizes, and don’t be afraid to move them around regularly to refresh your look without spending any money! Pillow covers are also a great piece to swap out seasonally to refresh a room’s color scheme!

5. Bring in Visual Warmth with Candles

Who doesn’t love candles? Their flickering flames create a cozy, soothing ambiance, and scented candles can elevate their calming effect even more. (Hello, aromatherapy! More on that next.)

“Lighting is everything! The right lighting can take your well-designed space to the next level! Using a soft yellowish hue produces a sense of calm. If you don’t know where to start incorporate some candles too to create a calming mood.” –Shelly S., Modsy Designer

Designer Tip: Instead of just buying a single candle when you want or need one, we love keeping a substantial supply of tapers, pillars, and votives on-hand, as well as several favorite candleholders. That way you’ll have plenty on hand whenever you want them and you never have to be stingy about using them!

6. Indulge in Aromatherapy

Using your sense of smell is one of the quickest routes to relaxation and is great for creating a sense of well-being. So, fill the air of your home with your favorite scents! As we just mentioned, candles are a great way to add some calming scents to your home. But you could also try an essential oil diffuser if you don’t want to worry about monitoring an open flame! Or simply bring in some fresh eucalyptus or fragrant flowers into the rooms you use the most for a natural, light fragrance.

Some scents that are particularly calming and relaxing are:

  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Bergamont
  • Chamomile
  • Geranium
  • Rose

“I use scents to mark the transition of time throughout the day. For example, I diffuse lavender in the morning to help cultivate a calming vibe for the day ahead. When it’s time to transition into the evening, I’ll light a favorite candle while making dinner. It’s a lovely little ritual that helps me transition throughout the day more intentionally.” –Karina L., Modsy Designer

7. Separate Work and Play

While mixed-use spaces are prevalent and hard to avoid, especially in today’s world, they can cause undue stress. After all, if your home office is situated within your living room, it can be difficult to relax at the end of the day. Work/life balance definitely has a mental and emotional component, but physical spaces do impact our ability to compartmentalize different parts of our lives.

In general, single-use, designated spaces are better for creating a relaxing home, if they’re achievable. By designating specific areas for various activities, you are subconsciously allowing yourself to move with ease and purpose within your home. This also allows you to be more intentional when designing your home since you can decorate with each room’s function in mind. Can’t avoid mixed-use spaces? Utilize closed storage to help create some separation between uses and activities.

“Closed storage is essential for visually calming or ‘de-stressing’ a space. Putting away functional items when they’re not in use can help reset a space and produce a feeling of accomplishment.” –Peter C., Modsy Designer

8. Create a Comfort Zone

Speaking of single-use spaces—creating an area of your home specifically for relaxation is a great way to create calm. It could be a reading nook, a space to turn on a record and listen to music, or perhaps a meditation corner. You don’t need to set aside an entire room; just select a spot that’s out of the way! You can separate this space by putting a barrier between you and possible distractions. Folding screens are a great way to divide an open space and create zones with unique purposes. Plus, they can block out distracting, unwanted views and redirect foot traffic away from your relaxation zone!

“What hobbies do you have that promote your own wellness? Yoga, reading, meditation? If space allows, why not create a dedicated area for this activity! Keep these spaces free of clutter, but include elements that help you focus on the activity at hand. Candles, sound machines, a few of your favorite books, or cozy pillows can help do the trick!” –Becky S. Modsy Designer

9. Strike a Balance

Visual balance can bring harmony into your space, making your home feel more inviting. It’s a simple way to create a sense of calm in your home. And that balance can be found in several ways—from using symmetry when arranging furniture and decor to creating contrast with light and dark pieces or playing with height when arranging tabletop decor. Check out our guide to feng shui for more tips.

“Symmetry and scale bring a sense of balance to a space, which can actually help to mute feelings of low-level anxiety. If your room has a lot of sharp corners or right angles, consider adding some softer shapes to help break up the lines and support the flow of energy.” –Hope C., Modsy Designer

10. Avoid Perfection

A space that feels too perfect and overly designed isn’t welcoming or homey—in fact, it can feel downright uninviting. To keep your home from becoming a showpiece, seek balance between order and livability—mixing organization and beautiful, polished pieces with practical items that you’ll use everyday. The idea is that making your space look like it’s lived in will further invite you to truly live and relax in your space! (Just be sure to avoid clutter, which is definitely stress-inducing!)

“Keep things to just the necessities to create a relaxing and clutter-free look—but make each piece aesthetically pleasing and purposeful. Marie Kondo has it right; every piece in your home should ‘spark joy.’ That’s just as important as function!” –Mackenzie R., Modsy Designer

What do you think? Will you implement any of these tips in your space to enhance your sense of calm? Are there any new ideas you’re going to try out? And don’t be afraid to share if there’s anything we missed and let us know in the comments! We’re always looking for more tips for creating a calm and peaceful home!

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