Designing a Feel-Good Home
Is your home bringing you down? As anyone who has lived in cramped, dark or tight quarters knows, your living space can have a big effect on your mood.Posted — Updated
Is your home bringing you down? As anyone who has lived in cramped, dark or tight quarters knows, your living space can have a big effect on your mood.
For ideas on how to bring positive energy — and style — into your home, we talked to Justina Blakeney, the designer behind the Instagram hit Jungalow and the author of “The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home to Good Vibes.”
Blakeney, 38, is a firm believer in using design to improve the quality of your life. Her own home, a 1926 bungalow in Los Angeles, is filled with color, pattern and greenery, which she said improves her mood and enhances productivity and relaxation. She offered some tips for creating a home that supports well-being.
“The front door couldn’t open fully,” she said. “I didn’t realize the effect it was having on me until it was gone. That was a revelation to me. Here I was thinking I was very clever using a coat rack behind the door as a space-saving solution, when it was creating this clogged artery.”
The same attention should be paid to furniture you keep running into, like that odd-shaped coffee table or the corner of your bed.
“All these tiny, little things on their own are not a big deal,” she said, but taken together, they can damage your mood. “All of a sudden you’re annoyed, and you don’t even know why. It might be you need a round coffee table instead of a square one or a different landing pad for your stroller and coats.”
“I’m a very nostalgic person, and I like to hold on to things,” Blakeney said. But after a bad breakup, she added, she once purged her apartment, even scrubbing down the exterior windows: “It immediately lifted my spirits in sort of a magical way. All of a sudden, you could see the sunbeams coming through. It felt spiritual in a way, and I really felt renewed.”
She also got rid of all the photos, gifts and mementos that reminded her of her ex. “It’s not just sort of the physical action of cleaning,” she said. “It’s an emotional letting go.”
When she and her husband moved into their 1,100-square-foot home in Los Angeles, for example, she wanted the master bedroom to feel like a romantic retreat: “It’s a small room, and we just have our big king-size bed, where we do all our snuggling and hanging out, and built-in bedside tables. And that’s it.”
A few other design details contribute to making it feel “like a boutique hotel,” she said: A significant part of the bedroom was turned into a walk-in closet to hide clutter; glittering gold wallpaper with palm trees lines the walls; and antique French doors that open to the backyard were installed to let in light. “Every single time I go into my bedroom,” she said, “I feel like I’m on vacation.”
If adding a window is not an option, she recommended hanging mirrors in strategic places to reflect whatever natural light you have.
The colors you associate with positive feelings, she explained, can be used to create “an emotionally supportive environment.” An example from her own home is the bright blue master bathroom inspired by a trip to Lake Tahoe: “I had never seen blue like that until I was in Tahoe, and I wanted to bring a feeling of freshness and our vacation into that bathroom.”
Don’t have a color in your memory bank? “Look at colors that you already collect” — in your closet, on your car, in your Pinterest feed. You may already be tapping into shades that evoke positive feelings without even thinking about it.
This may explain why she has 52 houseplants in the tiny home she shares with a husband, a child and a cat. The plants, which range from small succulents to large palms, appear in every room, adding a touch of whimsy and life.
“Living energy in your home is positive energy,” she said. “It’s people, pets and plants that make a home.”
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