It seems like everyone wants a home that feels like a retreat: an environment that’s soothing, uplifting, and beautiful. Many of us are taking inspiration from the Danish word hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), which is all about creating a cozy home that inspires connection and a sense of well-being. Natural fibers, pale colors, and lights with a soft, warm glow are hallmarks of this style.
Others are embracing minimalism, paring down their possessions to the essentials that make them happy, as advised by Marie Kondo. As she likes to say, only surround yourself with objects that "spark joy." The idea has been so popular that charities received record levels of clothing and housewares donations in 2018 and 2019.
8 Tips For Creating a Relaxing Home
Whether you live in a studio apartment, condo, or house, it’s easy to make your home an oasis of calm by following these strategies.
1. Eliminate Clutter
There are many reasons to have an organized, clutter-free home. You’ll save time because you can find your keys and phone easily. And you won’t waste money buying duplicate items because you can't find the other one! Did you know clutter in the home can even create anxiety?
Start by decluttering main areas like the kitchen, office, living room, dining room, and bedrooms. Bag up anything you haven’t used in a year or two; chances are you won’t even miss it. Tackle the closet with a good friend, and donate clothes that don’t fit, are out of style, or are unflattering.
Consider getting rid of anything that doesn’t make you smile or bring a pleasant memory or thought — even if it was a gift. You can still be grateful for the spirit behind the gift without keeping the object.
Donate everything to charity and feel good knowing someone else can benefit from your former treasures. You’ll be left with a home full of lovely items that make you feel good when you see them.
2. Embrace Cozy: The Hygge Way
The Danes have a concept known as hygge, which — while not easily translated to a single word — embraces the notion of "cozy." From a warm cup of tea to gathering around the fire, the concept of hygge makes Denmark’s long winters more pleasant.
It’s such a defining part of the Danish way of life that Meik Wiking, author of "The Little Book of Hygge" and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, wrote that hygge is to Danes what freedom is to Americans.
Hygge is about keeping things simple and inviting warmth and friendship. It’s no wonder that Denmark ranks among the happiest countries in the world! Though conceptualized for winters, you can practice hygge year-round. The decor involves a minimalist style with natural fabrics and pale neutrals.
Fire and warmth are essential components of hygge. Having a fireplace is great, but candles are an important component as well. Throw blankets are another easy, cost-effective way to add coziness and comfort to your home.
Some things don’t create a sense of hygge, such as staring at your phone all day. Instead, wrap up with your cozy knit throw around a fire, put on some thick socks, and spend the evening reading or catching up with a friend.
3. Employ the Healing Power of Nature
Let the sunlight in! Also, open the windows regularly to refresh the air in your home. The healing power of nature is one component of the hygge approach. Many of the same tenets underlie biophilic design, a science-backed approach focused on natural materials that support wellness.
Opt for pillows, rugs, towels, and clothing made from minimally processed wool, silk, cotton, and linen. Stock your kitchen with glass and ceramics, rather than plastics. Extend that same ethos to your furniture, seeking out pieces made from wood and natural fabrics, which look timeless. Plus, minimally processed natural materials won’t release harmful volatile organic compounds.
Choose cotton or silk sheets with a wool mattress topper to draw heat and moisture away from your body. A bed topped with wool, silk, or cotton will keep you cooler than foam, which holds heat. Plus, foam is made with petroleum, so it releases toxins and bad smells.
Green plants are an essential part of a soothing home environment. Just seeing ferns and other green plants can make you feel calmer and happier.
4. Decorate With Harmonious Colors
Painting your entire home with a complementary color palette helps set a tranquil tone. "If you have a lot of bright colors and there’s no continuity, it creates a clashing feeling," says Curt F., a residential developer who lives in California’s Sonoma wine country. "Each room should flow from one room to the next, so everything works together."
Some designers suggest choosing a favorite piece of fabric you like and drawing all the colors in your home from that palette. If you like pale colors, choose non-toxic white paint colors with different tints, mixed with neutrals such as tan, taupe, and wood tones.
Blue, a primary color from the sky and ocean, instills a peaceful atmosphere, and blue light during the day can help your body relax more quickly.
5. Turn Your Bath Into a Spa
Even when you’re doing everything you can to stay balanced and healthy, life’s little aggravations can get to you. When that happens, unwind by turning your bath into a mini spa.
Put houseplants and naturally-scented candles in your bathroom. Draw a hot bath and add a few drops of your favorite calming essential oils like lavender, chamomile, rose, or ylang-ylang. Next, dump a cup of plain Epsom salt in the water — they’re loaded with magnesium to relax your muscles.
Dim the light, turn on your relaxation playlist, and sip some tulsi tea, which one researcher called "liquid yoga" for its calming and mind-clearing effects.[3, 4] You can also try valerian, a time-tested herb for restful slumber. Global Healing’s Organic Valerian Raw Herbal Extract™ can help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer, without any grogginess the next day.
Afterward, put on a soft cotton robe, settle into a comfy chair, and spritz your face with Aquaspirit®, our refreshing facial mist.
6. Design the Perfect Bedroom
Think of your bedroom as a sanctuary for sleep and sex — that’s it. Banish the TV from your sleeping space, and charge your phone elsewhere. Electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) from phones and tablets can disrupt brain waves in some people. Others even turn off their Wi-Fi signal during sleep hours.
Consider painting the walls of your bedroom a deep, dreamy shade of blue, which encourages relaxation. Up the ante with blackout curtains. As bedtime approaches, unwind by reading a book while sipping tea with a few drops of valerian extract.
Boost your relaxation level with an eye mask or a scent diffuser with lavender essential oil. And be sure to keep things cool in the bedroom, since it’s easier to drift off to sleep when the temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Set the Mood With Sound
Listening to soothing music, whether you like New Age, classical, or folk, can reduce the heart rate. Create a playlist of your favorite soothing songs — anything with 60 to 80 beats per minute induces relaxation.
"To me, music really creates a mood. Life should have a soundtrack," says Curt F. "I like to start out the day with music that’s going to give a sense of peace, calm, and tranquility," he says of his playlist, which is similar to spa music.
If you want to create a soothing soundscape that’s less distracting than music, try nature sounds of wind, water, or chirping birds. Listening to sounds like these shifts the brain from the stressed-out fight-or-flight status to calm parasympathetic mode. The tenser you are, the bigger the potential drop in heart rate and blood pressure. Not to mention that listening to nature leads to better sleep.
8. Prime Yourself to Relax
One of the essential steps in creating a relaxing home is priming yourself to reap the benefits — which include less stress and better sleep. Make sure you’re taking care of your mind, body, and spirit.
Eat a balanced diet with lots of organic vegetables and fruit, along with probiotics and gut-friendly foods. Did you know that having a healthy population of flora in your digestive tract can have a powerful effect on your mood and mental state? Then you can relax in your home environment, making the most of your days and evenings.
Consider resetting your system with a colon cleanse if you’ve been overeating meat, sugary foods, alcohol, or bread. Set aside time regularly for meditation, a spiritual practice, and physical exercise, such as yoga, Pilates, or a brisk walk in nature.
Remember that all these suggestions are cumulative. Once you start clearing out the clutter, bringing in nature, and making other changes, you’ll notice that you’re feeling calmer at home.
Points to Remember
There are many things you can do to create a more relaxing home. Eliminate clutter and unneeded possessions, then decorate with cooling, comfortable natural materials like cotton, wool, silk, and wood. Use green plants liberally. Paint your entire home in harmonious colors so rooms flow together seamlessly.
When tension mounts, unwind in a spa-style bath with essential oils, Epsom salt, and tulsi tea. Make your bedroom a tech-free sanctuary that’s dark, cool, and only for sleep or intimacy. Create a calm mood with a playlist of songs with 60 to 80 beats per minute.
Most of these steps will work best to relax you if you prime your body and mind for relaxation by eating healthfully and getting regular exercise. Follow these steps, and your home will become an inviting, tranquil, and healing space.
- Roster C, et al. The dark side of home: Assessing possession ‘clutter’ on subjective well-being. J Environ Psychol. 2016;46:32.
- Minguillon J, et al. Blue lighting accelerates post-stress relaxation: Results of a preliminary study. PLoS One. 2017;12(10):e0186399.
- Cohen, MM. Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: An herb for all reasons. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014;5(4):251-259.
- Bhattacharyya D, et al. Controlled programmed trial of Ocimum sanctum leaf on generalized anxiety disorders. Nepal Med Coll J. 2008 Sep;10(3):176-179.
- Danker-Hopfe H, et al. Effects of mobile phone exposure (GSM 900 and WCDMA/UMTS) on polysomnography based sleep quality: An intra- and inter-individual perspective. Environ Res. 2016;145:50-60.
- Pall ML. WiFi is an important threat to human health. Environ Res. 2018;164:405-416
- Costa M, et al. Interior color and psychological functioning in a university residence hall. Front Psychol. 2018;9:1580.
- Tan YZ, et al. The effect of relaxing music on heart rate and heart rate variability during ECG gated -myocardial perfusion scintigraphy. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2015 May;21(2):137-140.
- Gould van Praag C, et al. Mind-wandering and alterations to default mode network connectivity when listening to naturalistic versus artificial sounds. Sci Rep. 2017;7:45273.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.