How I Designed My Home To Better My Mental Health
The alarm sounds, met by my exhausted hand fumbling in the dark, searching for the “off” button. A quick kiss for my sleepy husband and my toes hit the soft rug on the floor next to our bed. While he turns on our Bluetooth-enabled lights — on the “wake up” mode of course — I make my way to the kitchen in search of the only thing that will remedy being awake at this hour: coffee.
I pour black cold brew for him and an iced chai with oat milk for me under the dim light of our kitchen lamp. With messy hair and wrinkled PJs, I make my way back to our bedroom to deliver the goods.
Back into bed I crawl, inviting our dogs up for mandatory morning snuggles.
“Hey Google, what’s the weather today?”
More rain. A high of 80 and a low of 64. And now I feel equipped to pick my outfit for the day. Surrounded still by the faint glow of our bedroom lighting, I choose a matching workout set and tie my hair back. I sit down at my secondhand vanity to do my makeup while he scrolls in bed and our dogs seek shelter under a blanket because the AC is on high. There’s nothing worse than waking up sweaty.
Image via Mackenzie Edwards
Our mornings are like a choreographed dance: in sync to a rhythm we’ve created, in a home we’ve curated.
From the lighting to the thermostat, each selection in our home supports this sequence. And those are the little things that we consciously — or not — rely on to make us feel at home.
That’s probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the past three years. When the world shut down and we were stuck inside, I started to notice the things in my home that gave me peace, motivation, purpose, even, as well as the things that were slowly draining me. I learned that the spaces we occupy, whether permanent or temporary, impact our mindset.
The trouble comes when offering “tips” for a more productive home, because as I’ve learned, not much is universal. For my husband, a slow morning filled with monotonous chores, loud music, and nothing but natural sunlight is the slow ramp up he needs to start his day. While I prefer to turn on all the lights and sit at my computer by the window tracking my progress. We compromise with small lamps and a podcast.
The pockets of our home are undeniably working for us or against us. The way we feel when we walk in, the colors on the walls, the textures of our bed, the street noise, they’re all contributing to how productive, happy, and at peace we feel each day.
And thus my borderline obsession with finding the optimal furniture placement or lighting or function of a space was born. With each tweak, I found myself more and more settled, with a clear mind and perhaps even more confidence?
Image via Mackenzie Edwards
To anyone and everyone, I enlist them to take a good look at their environment and the person it’s shaping you to be. Of course, on a budget and without professional design training, I was forced to look for the needs not the wants. The desk that allows me to stand up halfway through my day. The window treatments that remind me of a hotel lobby. The coffee bar for mid-day treats. They’re more than just things — they’re the makings of the backdrop of my life.
With intention, we selected each piece of our home to tell the story of the life we want. Our home begets rituals which guide our steps. The pouring of the coffee. The outlet by my favorite workspace. The flipping of a record. The rug that grounds me. Choices in style and mindset.
The journey to curate my ideal space is slow. The before and afters are few, and often nothing to post about — but I know, I see, I feel the difference. My home is working for me, not the other way around.
For the overwhelmed, I recommend picking just one space where you spend a significant time in your home. Your bed. Your workspace. Your TV area. Ask yourself how it makes you feel and how you wish it made you feel. Scroll inspiration on your app of choice and follow your feelings. There are plenty of objectively beautiful spaces that would be a nightmare to live in. Instead search for spaces that make you want to kick off your shoes and unload after a long day. What in those designs bring you peace, calm, certainty?
Use all of your senses. So much of design centers on what it looks like, but how does it feel under your feet? How does it smell when you take a deep breath? What do you wish it sounded like? Atmosphere is made by individuals.
Forget the rules of design and the trends you see while scrolling, and instead create a space for who you want to be in three years. What does she look like? Sound like? Feel like? The answers are endless and never wrong — a freedom you deserve.
Your home equals your mindset. Dress it accordingly.
How do you design your home for your lifestyle? Let us know on Twitter and in the comments!
Header image via Mackenzie Edwards