"The Englishman's home is his castle" — This saying best exemplifies the idea that one's home is our most important refuge from the hostilities of the outside world. At the end of a long, hard day, all that we want to do is to reach home, close the door, and relax in comfort.
However, being able to truly relax after a day of work is much easier when you consciously set out to create a stress-free atmosphere in your home. Most of the time, we regard our homes simply as a functional space for eating, sleeping or entertaining — not for relaxing. It might even be a stressful place where you are expected to work on next day's presentation late into the night. Maybe the truly relaxing place you can think of is your bathroom! But that is surely insufficient; with a little effort, you can transform your entire home into a palace for the soul.
A stress-free environment can be achieved firstly by cutting down on the clutter, especially if space is at a premium. Remove all non-essential objects and ornaments from your home. This is especially important for your living room, the first place you see when you enter your home. Invest in proper storage spaces for your cds, books and keepsakes neatly, such as shelves and cabinets. This will reduce the feeling of claustrophobia, especially when your home is of a moderate size, and improve air flow, which will in turn help you to feel refreshed.
You can also choose to paint walls in pale colours, or chose drapes and curtains in pastels to add a feeling of calm. Of course, removing all non-essential items does not mean you have to turn your home into a purely functional, sterile environment. Comfortable-looking furniture, accessories such as throw cushions, rugs, and flowers all help to make your home more pleasant and inviting. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind the balance of space in your home. Too much open space, and your home will appear cold and sterile. Too little, and it feels cramped. Pick a few distinctive pieces of furniture. Create little nooks and corners to make your home more inviting, without sacrificing space. Hang a favourite photograph on the wall. Make use of small tables, or shelves to display a few items of interest, or to indulge in some aromatherapy.
Though the kitchen is usually a place of activity, you can make it a more comfortable place by ensuring that the utensils are neatly put away. Built-in cookers and ovens give a more streamlined look as well. Use materials, such as wood whenever possible, to accentuate the homely atmosphere. Other natural materials such as stone, or marble — maybe a marble countertop — can add beauty, and achieve a more laid-back look, to counter the frenzy of activity in a kitchen.
Give your bedroom a softer, cosier atmosphere through the use of warm colours, soft fabrics such as cotton or linen, while still keeping its basic components simple.
Lighting deserves a special mention. Having to move around in your home in the glare of overly intense lighting, for example, from florescent lights, may interfere with your circadian rhythms, making it difficult to relax. It might even interfere with your sleep. Avoid this by using lamps with incandescent bulbs instead. A small bedside lamp that emits soft, warm light is very effective, as are candles, to give your bedroom a more romantic and intimate setting.
In other places, use a variety of lighting to add interest—perhaps to highlight a display cabinet, or brighten a dark corner. Lamps, for example, table lamps or floor lamps, especially one in an interesting shape or colour, can add warmth and interest to any room.
Explore the various types of lighting that are available: spotlights to highlight a favourite painting or photograph; lampshades made of paper or cloth for a softer, more homely feel; or even a sparkling chandelier for a touch of luxury. Candlelight, as in the bedroom, can add a hint of mystery or romance to the mood of the room.