Relaxing Decor

20 ideas for creating soothing, stress-free spaces to enjoy every day.
Five Ways to Use Color and Light
Use warm whites to create a sense
of ease.

Go with White. Some experts say white is the most soothing hue on the spectrum. As with every color, however, the choice is purely personal.

If white or light-toned neutrals (such as cream, off-white, or taupe) appeal to your calming instincts, use plenty of texture: Flat white walls and smooth white furnishings can readily blend into boredom. And add shades of warmth: Use gold, pale tans, or faded yellows to keep white from looking too sterile.

fireplace with hand molds The freshness of children's art
lifts the spirits and warms the

Create a Cluster of Color. Pottery in a favorite color, brightly-hued artworks, or a jewel-toned vase -- items of intense color, especially favorite objects, attract the eye and focus the mind.

Maximize the comforting effect of favorite pieces by clustering them together to create a focal point. That way every time you pass by, you'll take in the collective joy of the items. Be sure to choose a place you notice every day, such as a fireplace mantel.

Surrounded with art, books, and
greenery, this fireplace beckons
one to sit and enjoy the setting.

Maximize the Appeal of a Fireplace. Go one step further and make the most of the relaxing appeal of the entire hearth area. Extend the decorating scheme to the walls around and the floor below a fireplace to create a vignette.

Make sure to include a decorative screen, a cluster of birch branches, or a silk flower arrangement for the firebox when the fireplace is not in use. Otherwise, the dark, empty spot will detract from the relaxing effect of your arrangement.

container candles A clutch of candles casts a
mesmerizing glow.

Warm an Area with Candles. The soft glow of candles adds a sense of ease to any space; they're conducive to both quiet thoughts and lively conversation, so use them generously throughout your house.

Be it tapers, pillars, or votives, keep a substantial supply on hand. Also collect several favorite candleholders so you'll have fresh candles and clean holders on hand when you want them.

velvet-vine couch with mirror Extend the reach of soothing
sunlight or lamplight with mirrors.

Work with Light. Most every day, the sun casts an evolving, flowing pattern of light through the rooms of your house. Take advantage of nature's gift by throwing back the blinds and enjoying the sunlight that rushes in.

And create a lighting scheme for the evening hours that's just as appealing as nature's warm rays. A room will have a more peaceful feeling with fixtures and bulbs that cast a gentle, friendly light. For these areas, avoid the harsh glare and buzzing sound of fluorescent bulbs.

Continued on page 2:  Five Ways to Use Sight, Sound, and Scent