10 Decorating Tips for a Stress-Free Home

Transform your home into a healing, relaxing zone with these little home makeover ideas. Transform your home into a healing, relaxing zone with these little home makeover ideas. Here's a good reason to do some low-cost redecorating: The choices you make can result in enhanced mood, less stress, and better sleep. To turn your space into a healing haven, follow these easy 10 decorating tips for a stress-free home.

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IN THE ENTRYWAY
1. Create a feel-good focal point. The first thing you see when you enter your home should be something you love, whether that's a piece of art, a vase of flowers, or a special souvenir, says Stephanie Roberts, author of Fast Feng Shui: 9 Simple Principles for Transforming Your Life by Energizing Your Home. "A beautiful first impression helps you relax from the get-go."

2. Organize daily debris. If you see old newspapers on the floor and bags of Goodwill donations waiting to be dropped off, you're going to think obligation, not relaxation. "Piles of stuff at your entryway send the message that there's more mess and chaos inside, and who wants to walk into that?" Roberts says. "Have a designated place for every item that enters and exits your house," recommends Paige Rien, an interior designer in New Jersey appearing on HGTV's Hidden Potential. She suggests placing a couple of chic containers near the front door, one for outgoing items and one for incoming things.

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IN THE LIVING ROOM
3. Create space. "Our anxiety builds in small spaces if there's too much stuff," says Rien. To reduce the clutter and make the room feel larger, ask yourself if you really need all those end tables or picture frames, and cut anything deemed nonessential. Consider painting a table or bookshelf the same color (or a similar one) as the wall it's up against, so it "disappears" into it. Painting walls white or a light color will also make a smaller room feel more spacious.

4. Light up locations, not whole rooms. "Bright overhead light can make it difficult to wind down at the end of the day. Think about how a casino's lights keep you revved up," says Katherine Grace Morris, PhD, a psychologist in Maryland who specializes in making over people's home and work environments. Use spot lighting for areas where you need brightness, such as next to the sofa where you read, and put overhead lights on dimmers. Also, switch to full-spectrum bulbs, which mimic natural light better than standard ones do. "They cost a bit more, but they're worth it because they create a more soothing natural atmosphere," says Dr. Morris.

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5. Create pedestrian-friendly paths. "If you can barely get into a chair without banging your leg on the coffee table, or if the path from the sofa to the door is cramped, rearrange your furniture," says Roberts. "Not being able to safely and easily move about produces anxiety--not to mention an easy way to trip or stub a toe."

6. Simplify your color scheme. Use restraint with patterns and loud colors. If you mix patterns, keep their color schemes similar, and if you like lots of colors, keep patterns to a minimum. "If you have too many bright colors or high-contrast patterns in a room, your eyes are going to be drawn all over the place, making it difficult to relax," says Dr. Morris. Simple designs and colors, on the other hand, are soothing. "The less-is-more rule applies to shelves and tabletops too," adds Rien. "Don't fill them just because they're there. Instead, display just a few pieces that are meaningful."

7. Bring the outdoors in. Being surrounded by natural elements encourages friendlier interactions with others, found a University of Rochester study. For a more peaceful home, bring in a couple of houseplants or hang a mirror across from your largest window to maximize outdoor vantage points. If your view includes more buildings than trees, hang landscape photographs on the walls, says Roberts.

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IN THE BEDROOM
8. Use soothing hues. "Generally, we find cool shades of blue and green and neutral earth tones to be relaxing because they remind us of nature," says color expert Leatrice Eiseman, author of Color: Messages and Meanings. If you're not ready to commit to new paint, incorporate a few accessories, such as throw pillows, a quilt, or lamp shades, in calming colors.

9. Switch off electronics.
To rest easier, remove all televisions and computers from your bedroom. The light emitted by these devices signals the brain to stay awake, interfering with a good night's sleep and leaving you with elevated levels of stress hormones in the morning. If you must keep these gadgets where you sleep, Rien recommends placing the TV in a cabinet and putting a screen between your bed and the computer.

10. Bring your fantasy to life.
Think about what paradise looks like to you. If it's a tropical island, add sand and sea shades and tropical touches, such as wicker side tables or a sea grass rug. Prefer a mountain cabin or country home? Then add colors, textures, and accessories to your bedroom decor that call those settings to mind. "Design is highly individual, so mine your past experiences and flip through design magazines to identify what elements make a room feel relaxing to you," says Rien.

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-By Celeste Perron, Prevention

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