Create a sanctuary in your home
By Barbara Pierce
As so much of our lives are chaotic, our home should be a sanctuary with outdoor swing chairs, a place that brings us calm and helps us get our life back on track.
Our home should be a place we love — a place that makes us feel joy; a place that brings us peace and reduces our stress level. It is what surrounds us during our greatest, or our worst moments. It is where we shelter our children.
“Our homes are sanctuaries, our place of rest and a safe haven for each member of the family,” said Tara D’Amico, real estate and design adviser. “A place where we can truly relax and create memories and traditions.”
D’Amico is an independent interior design adviser and realtor for Coldwell Banker Sexton. She lives in Clinton with her husband and three children.
The ability to create a calm haven of our home doesn’t come naturally for most of us. D’Amico helps people achieve that feeling of serenity in their homes, making their home a clean, safe, uncluttered and relaxing space.
“My philosophy is based on the three C’s: clutter, cleaning and color. Our brain reacts negatively to heavy clutter and dirty environments, and it’s over-stimulated with too much color.
Here are a few simple tips to get you started:
— Clutter: Messy homes and workspaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Clutter is a significant source of stress in our lives and has a profound effect on our mood and self-esteem. The more stuff, the more stress we feel.
Though D’Amico understands that clutter is the hardest for most of us, it is one of the easiest life stressors to fix.
“Clutter is oppressive. But once you get it, your home will be liberated,” she said.
“Start by pretending you’re moving,” she recommends. “At least once a year, clean out your drawers, cabinets and closets. Keep only what you love and truly need. Give away or sell the rest!”
“Keep a limit of three to five items on your surfaces. This small practice makes a big difference in the clutter department,” she added. A cluttered space with too many knick-knacks is a chaotic space.
Cleaning demands discipline
— Cleaning: “Don’t dread it, just do it!” says D’Amico. Let’s be honest, the continuous ritual of putting things away, dusting, vacuuming, or making an effort to keep things tidy is extremely important to maintaining both mental and physical health.
Keeping your home clean is one of the easiest ways to deter stress. Walking into a dirty, cluttered house can instantly put you in a bad mood; piles of clutter and disorganization can trigger brain fog and depression.
“If you don’t love to clean, set a day and time and give yourself a phone reminder,” suggests D’Amico. “Make it once a week — vacuum, dust, and clean the bathrooms.”
“If you have children, I’m a firm believer in including them. It teaches them to value their home and take care of their things. It also communicates that you need them, which is a wonderful feeling. They’ll feel more comfortable at home and want to be there,” she added.
— Color: Color can be a mood lifter or depressor.
“My home is about 10 different shades of white,” says D’Amico. “People say, ‘You’re so brave, having so much white with three kids!’ But here’s a secret: White is the easiest color to clean and it doesn’t fade! Not to mention it’s very soothing. I think it’s almost heavenly.”
“Neutral, neutral, neutral, when it comes to painting walls, furniture, and décor — Whites, creams, grays and tans, the lighter the better. Neutrals last the longest. Also, they’re peaceful colors for our minds to process. And they’re most versatile — you can interchange pieces throughout your home,” D’Amico said.
“Neutrals are a great choice for us Central New Yorkers. When it’s dreary outdoors, they help to make our indoors a comfortable and happy place,” she noted.
“As for beautifying, this is where your personal style comes in,” added D’Amico. “Everyone has their own style. One tip is to use photography and quotes that you love. Turn your families’ highlights and memories into artistic decor.”
“Use your own photos or enlarge photos from a photo website and find stylish frames. This is inexpensive and has proven to be comforting to children living in the home. Studies show it boosts their self-esteem and creates a safe and comfortable environment. As a bonus, it also sparks creativity,” she said.
Small changes can shift the way we feel in our home. And if we feel better in our home, our entire lives improve.
No matter where you live, when you shift the environment in your home, it helps boost your level of happiness.
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