Have you ever noticed how relaxing it is to stay away from home? Now, I know that’s a loaded question, as I have stayed a few places that I wouldn’t return to if someone paid me. But I’m talking about the feeling that you get when you stay at a nice hotel. It’s clean, it’s comfortable, and there are usually multiple fresh towels in every size, folded and hung just so. And if it’s a really nice hotel, they even crease the next sheet of toilet paper into an arrow, which almost reminds me of the tip of a tie.. and that makes it feel fancy!
After years of traveling together, Robert and I started to notice how enjoyable it was to stay away from home, and how even though I cleaned our house from top to bottom before we left (yes, I’m one of those), we felt bummed to have to come back at the end of our trip. Coming back to work or having to leave someplace really special probably also played a role in this disappointment. But also the thought of returning to an old bed with frumpy sheets and an unexciting bathroom with scratchy towels didn’t exactly have us rushing to get home. So I started to ponder, what made our vacation stays so enjoyable? And why couldn’t we try to make our own house feel just the same?
I started taking inventory of all the things we enjoyed when staying away from home. First was the bed. The bed we were sleeping on at the time was a who-knows-how-old, hand me down mattress with the cheapest bed in a bag combo that we could find and no head board to boot. This was perfect for us when we were just starting out, since we were young and broke and our spinal columns were still fully lubricated and agile. But as we grew older the aches grew too, and getting out of bed in the morning left much to be desired from the previous night’s sleep. So,
Step 1: Invest in the best sleeping arrangement that you can afford.
Find a mattress that provides the type of support that you and your partner need. And get the pillows to match! Spend the extra money on the Egyptian cotton or bamboo sheets or heck, even flannel sheets if that’s what is most comfortable to you. Put together a resting place that makes you excited to jump into it every night. Purchase mattress and pillow covers to extend the life of your set up and wash or dry clean per their instructions. Rotate your mattress every couple of months to prevent divots and to evenly distribute the wear. Trust me on this, having a comfortable bed that blesses you with a good night’s sleep is worth every penny and it is sure to have you looking forward to returning home every time you leave.
Step 2: Choose your color palette carefully.
I’m sure you’ve heard that certain colors provoke certain feelings when you look at them.. such as yellow being associated with happiness, blue with calmness and red with energy. When bringing color into your home, think long and hard about the feeling that you wish to achieve. How is that navy blue accent wall going to make you feel? Or that bright orange area rug? If you’re going for a lively, energetic household.. then by all means carry on with your bold and vibrant colors! But if you’re looking for a peaceful and calming retreat, it’s best to stick with the neutral tones. Grays, whites, beige, light blues and greens.. are all great choices. Having these colors on your walls create a clean canvas for simple decor that may or may not provide a pop of color as you see fit. Linens in these tones provide that clean and inviting feeling that you get from most hotel rooms. Dishes that are in simple neutral shades are beautiful stacked in cabinets or even on shelves for display. And don’t forget about lighting! The tone that your lighting is displaying can play a huge role on your mood and energy. Utilize natural lighting as much as possible. There’s nothing else that can compare with the magic of sunlight. Use lamps in the evenings to create a relaxing ambiance that help to wind you down at the end of the day. Choosing cool white light bulbs will liven up a room, where as bulbs with warmer tones will create a more calming affect. Think salt lamps. My thoughts are: keep your palette simple and fresh so that it’s timeless and can change easily with each season.. you can add interest through your decor. Which leads me to my next tip..
Step 3: When it comes to decor, less is more.
I love home decor. There, I said it. I love putting on my comfy shoes, grabbing a cup of coffee and going to Hobby Lobby to spend hours on end carefully reviewing every single item in their decor department. Which, if you’ve never been to a Hobby Lobby (bless your heart), decor makes up more than half of their store. I’ve always giggled a bit, thinking of the name “Hobby Lobby”. It’s a place filled to the brim with florals, fabrics, crafting supplies of every color, shape and size, and finally home decor. But hey, for some (me, I’m some) decorating is a hobby. But, there is a such thing as too much decorating. *gasp! I know. Buying every farmhouse item that the store displays will not magically turn your home into a farmhouse, it will make it into a fun house.
The thing that attracts us to the homes in magazines and on HGTV, is the simplicity of the decor. You never see a featured home with walls so crowded with crooked picture frames that you can’t determine the color of paint behind them. Instead, the tables have a center piece that’s simplistic such as a bowl of fruit or a vase with flowers. The couches have just a few pillows, maybe bringing in that pop of color, but are also functional for when Old Man Sand decides to pay a visit. And speaking of functionality, why not have items that you use every day double as decorations? Place coffees and spices in canisters that can be displayed neatly on shelves or countertops. Use indoor plants to provide that luscious splash of green while allowing it to filter your air and if you choose correctly, provide a pleasant scent. Add a water feature that makes a trickling melody that plays all day long. Place baskets in areas where items tend to collect. (Notice the pile of junk in ours in the picture below. Pretty sneaky, huh?) Use only items that give you a feeling of peace and/or have a purpose. Remember, the more you have on display.. the more you have to keep clean.
Step 4: Cleanliness is crucial.
Yuck. The step that nobody wants to hear. Not even me.. but it is so important when trying to create a peaceful retreat. When you stay away from home, what’s the first thing you notice about the place you’re staying? Is it clean or not? Whether it is or isn’t will make or break your entire experience. You peel back the sheets and check to make sure they’ve been washed before you slip yourself down into them at night. No? Just me? Maybe I’m a little obsessive when it comes to a clean living space, but it has been proven time and time again that people focus better, sleep better and overall feel better in a clean and orderly environment. Clutter is a thief of creativity and energy. Though you may be in no hurry to pick up the pile of dirty clothes strewn about your bedroom floor, subconsciously your energy is being zapped by the mental to do list that you’re avoiding. You know it needs to be done but decide to wait until tomorrow. As you lay in bed tossing and turning, you wonder why you can’t seem to turn your mind off. The pile of clothes might not be the sole culprit, but that mental to do list that has been racking up won’t allow you to forget it.
Keeping a clean household will make you feel better mentally and physically too, as you’re removing allergens and bacterias that could also be disturbing your peace. The best way to achieve a home that is (basically) always clean, is to do something every single day. Shriek! I said something. Not the whole dang thing, so help you God. Come up with a time every day that you can devote to a small task that will take less than an hour to complete. You can check out a basic lineup of my daily cleaning routine here. I’ll post a more detailed plan in the future for all you fellow neat freaks. Do your chosen chore every day, along with the necessary jobs like the dishes, and you will start to notice how fresh and inviting your home feels at any given moment during the week. There’s nothing like being able to relax in a candle lit, salt infused bath (with fresh clean neutral colored towels near by) at the end of a long hard day, and not having to remove the dead skin ring from the last time you used it before hand!
Step 5: Good Vibrations
Finally, my last tip and probably the most important. We’ve covered all of the physically and visually pleasing aspects of a peaceful retreat. Now to cover the spiritual side. Wait, don’t hang up! I’m not here to preach or to convert you to some hippy dippy voo doo.. but I do believe that it is very important to protect the energy of your home. Whether that looks like not allowing certain guests and their negativity to stop by, or turning the channel when a horror movie advertisement comes on (*raises hand). Make your family aware of the things you want to avoid, such as yelling in the house, slamming doors and arguing. Work together to try to eliminate the negativity as much as possible. Also, while trying to remove the peace stealers, collaborate together to do the things that bring positivity and lifts your family’s spirits. Whether it be game or puzzle night, donating unused items or just cuddling on the couch, find peaceful ways to set the intentions of your home.
Start a gratitude practice, where every evening each family member shares 5 things from the day (that day only) that they are thankful for. It will help each person to actively be looking for the good in every day. I’ll share my family’s experience in doing this practice in the future. Start every morning with prayer. Fill the air with positive music like instrumentals, nature sounds or Christian radio. (Where my K-Love fans at??) Set goals, make plans, give hugs before separating. Start noticing the things that bring you happiness, joy and peace.. and make it your mission to weave them into your nest. With a little bit of time and effort, even the nicest hotel won’t compare to the comforts of your own place. It’s true what they say, there’s no place like home!
Do you have any other tips and tricks that make your home second to none? Please share your thoughts and inspiration below!