Our homes are so much more than just a place to rest our heads after a busy day.

They are our sanctuaries from the storms of life, the place where we recharge our batteries, grow our families, celebrate triumphs, nurse hurts, become creative and host our friends and families. These days we ask the spaces around us to do so much – to be supremely functional and also stylish. Many of us see our homes as the ultimate extension of ourselves; reflecting our values in on-trend Farrow & Ball paint colors and Swoon Editions sofas.

Science supports this too, as research has shown that our homes have a significant impact on our sense of well-being, our outlook on life and our productivity. The good news is, we’re mainly in control of our home environments, and from easy little tweaks to large-scale design projects, we can generally change up what we have to make it fit our needs better. So let your home become a catalyst for positive change in your life, starting with these tips below!

Create Spaces For Experiences At Home

Time and again, scientists have found that spending our money on experiences makes us happier than spending it on material objects. So if you are going to spend on your house – or even just fancy some simple no-cost layout changes – then design that space around experiences that you want your home to facilitate.

For instance, do you love getting the family together for cozy movie nights? A basement conversion to include a home cinema room will allow you to do many more. Or do you need to add more open plan space to an older house to enable you to host bigger gatherings? Similarly, are you using your garden to its full potential as an entertaining space – or could adding some built-in seating and a barbecue area or pizza oven make more of your weekends? If you have family and friends who live all over the place, could you make it easier for them to stay over when visiting by revamping the guest bedroom and creating space for an en-suite to make them feel more at home?

It doesn’t have to be a big design project though – sometimes just changing the function of a room slightly, adding different seating and lighting options or simple plans like sliding door repairs can bring back to life an under-used area of your existing space. It could even be making over your dining space to bring the family together at meal times.

Make a Display Area For Your Most Treasured Memories

Having better experiences don’t just make us happy in the moment of having them – a good amount of pleasure comes from anticipation, planning and then afterward remembering the experience. Too many of us rely on social media to curate our memories when we should be weaving them into the fabric of the place we love most – home.

So consider ways you can display things better around your living space. What those are depends on you individually, and that is what will help to bring a personal touch in. It could be a gallery wall with black and white prints of your family members stretching back through the ages all grouped for maximum impact. If you could invest in some shadow boxes, then you can also display 3D objects that hold positive memories or even consider framing vinyl records that remind you of pivotal times in your life.

Make Decluttering a Regular Activity

Our homes have the power to affect our energy, and having lots of unwanted and unloved clutter lying around is not good for you – especially if you live in a smaller space. It’s easy for things to build up without us noticing, and if you have small children, after key times like Christmas when there are lots of new toys and gifts incoming, it can quickly get out of control.

Get back on top by scheduling regular clean outs. If you have space, designate an ‘unsure drawer’ where things that you are undecided about live. If anything stays in there three months or longer, it’s time to donate or recycle it. Similarly, with clothes, you can try the hanger hack. Turn every garment in your wardrobe so that the hanger is facing away as you reach in. As you wear them, flip them back around. After six months, if anything is still facing the wrong way, you’ll know that you haven’t been wearing them and its time to reconsider if you still need to hang on to them. If storage is an issue, you can find some great home storage solutions online.

Practise Simple Habits

Sometimes our environments don’t appear their best because we feel that we lack the time to properly care for them. If we’re busy with work or we have small children creating mess faster than we can clear it up, it can be tricky to keep our homes looking the way we’d like. A few simple practices can really help here.

First of all, following the simple rule of keeping cleaning supplies at the source can help you keep on top of chores. If you have that cleaning spray and a sponge where you need it, you can try to multi-task – cleaning the sink and shower while the kids are in the bath, for instance. If you don’t already, get into the habit of making your bed as soon as you get out of it in the morning. Bestselling book The Happiness Project outlines how this two-minute task can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on your wellbeing. Similarly, make sure you have a place for everything to return to. If there are recurring clutter hotspots in your house, identify why – is it as simple as getting more hooks for coats in the hallway?

Try to get into practices that make keeping the home tidy easier for you –  it could be never going up or down the stairs without carrying something that needs to be put away, or setting aside three minutes before you leave each room to bring it back up to a tidier state. Having a clearer home will create a much more stress-free and happier environment for you and your family.

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This is a contributed article written for WhimMagazine.com 

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