My custom title

8 Ways to Zen Out at Home

26 Jul 2021

Tips & Advice

Is the pandemic giving you panic attacks? Anxious about community transmission, vaccination side-effects, new sneaky strains, climate change, the future in general? You’re not alone. Take a deep breath and follow these simple steps to making your home a haven from the troubles outside.

A neutral palette, an absence of clutter, green accents and soft furnishings create a calm and tranquil ambience in this HDB 5-room flat by Starry Homestead Pte Ltd. Photo courtesy of HomeRenoGuru Annual 2021

#1. Soften Your Lighting

Nothing sets the mood of a room more than lighting. Basically, bright direct light has a stimulating effect while dim indirect light has a calming effect. On top of that, cool white light can induce feelings of stress, while warm golden light creates a cosy and comforting atmosphere.

So, simply change your cool lightbulbs to warm ones – make them energy-saving LED ones for the sake of planet and pocket. While you’re at it, look at your light fittings. The retro industrial chic trend of naked lightbulbs can be jarring. Consider semi-opaque spherical shades or ones with negative and positive panels to diffuse the light.

Filtered natural light and warm lightbulbs creates a relaxing ambience in this 3-room HDB flat by Aart Boxx Interior. Photo courtesy of HomeRenoGuru Annual 2021

#2. Tidy and Edit. Regularly.

Mess in your home can mess with your head. While curated cluttercore has its charm, chaotic clutter does not. Especially in open concept layouts where the kitchen is visible from the living room, and the dining room doubles as a WFH station, dirty dishes, piles of paperwork and half-eaten packets of snacks are unsightly from all directions.

At the end of each workday, and the end of every evening, make a point of loading the dishwasher and putting stuff away. You’ll wake up to an orderly house and face the day with a clearer head.

#3. Pick a Neutral Palette

Though we are all for bold, fearless design, the science of colour psychology confirms that colours have a direct effect on mood. The safest way to create a calming ambience is to opt for a warm neutral palette of beige and tan, accented with green. The green can come in the form of furnishings and accessories, or indoor plants.

You feel relaxed just looking at the beige and tan living room of this HDB executive maisonette at Pasir Ris, designed by D’Initial Concept. Photo courtesy of HomeRenoGuru Annual 2021

That brings us to Tip #4.

#4. Bring the Outdoors In with Plants

Indoor plants have skyrocketed in online searches. Perhaps we’ve been pining for nature. Maybe watching something grow assures us that yes, time is really passing. Either way, indoor plants have never been more popular. What’s more, they purify the air and look beautiful in a way that no artificial plant can. If you weren’t blessed with a green thumb, opt for hardy species like monstera and devil’s ivy. Caring for them is a daily exercise in mindfulness that can add structure to an otherwise shapeless day.

If you have the wall space, you could consider a vertical green wall. Green walls offer all the benefits of potted plates, only ‘upsized’. They absorb noise as well as toxins, make a beautiful backdrop for a dining table or a yoga mat, and exude a tranquil forest vibe.

Far lovelier than any landscape painting, this lush green HyGro™ wall ups the Zen factor in the living and dining area of a Ghim Moh Link flat. Photo courtesy of home-grown Vertical Green.

#5. Get Touchy-feely with Textures

Fun fact: ‘Cocooning’ only became a verb in 1981, when it was first coined by trend forecaster Faith Popcorn to describe the practice of staying inside one’s home, protected from the dangers lurking outside. Of course, it’s become a way of life since the pandemic hit. Just as a cocoon envelops a fragile butterfly-to-be during metamorphosis, tactile textiles can create a feeling of safety and comfort.

Layer your armchairs and sofas with throws and cushions, and line your floors with rugs. Go for natural fibres like wool and cotton – the softer the better. Then kick off your shoes, hug a cushion, cosy up with a blankie… and cocoon the night away.

Cushions and throws are perfect for nights cocooning at home in this 4-room HDB flat in Shunfu Road, designed by United Team Lifestyle Pte Ltd. Photo courtesy of HomeRenoGuru Annual 2021

#6. Reflect on Your Mirrors

Though we love the way a strategically-hung mirror can create the illusion of added space in a room, too many or ill-placed mirrors can be disorientating. Fengshui experts have firm views on where and where not to hang them. These include: avoid hanging them directly over beds, chairs and sofas, and never have them in the kitchen.

Hang your mirrors with care, avoiding chairs, sofas and beds

Fengshui aside, a mirror that reflects a lovely scenic view is clearly calming, while a mirror that reflects a cluttered space literally doubles the impression of chaos. In short, check your mirrors.

#7. Scent Your Surroundings

A whole industry has been built on the transformative power of scent. And it’s no bohemian ‘new age’ novelty. Scientific studies show that when we inhale a fragrance, the scent receptors in our noses send messages to our brains that measurably lower levels of cortisol, the so-called ‘stress hormone’.

Relax your mind via the scent receptors in your nose and your favourite home scent

Reed diffusers, electric diffusers, scented candles, room sprays and pre-mixed potpourri are all lovely ways to infuse your interiors. In general, floral and herbal scents like lavender, rosemary, jasmine and ylang ylang have a calming effect, while zesty and citrusy scents like peppermint and lemon have a stimulating effect.

#8. Make Your Bed. Every Morning.

A poll by America’s National Sleep Foundation found that people sleep better in a bed that’s been made. Moreover, tumbling into an unmade bed is just a reminder of everything you didn’t do throughout your day.

Optimise the quality of your sleep with a well-made bed such as the one in this 4-room HDB flat’s master bedroom at Bidadari, designed by DC Vision. Photo courtesy of HomeRenoGuru Annual 2021

Make a point of making your bed every morning. It takes about two minutes, max, and can help improve the quality of your entire night’s sleep. Like tending your plants, it’s also a brief exercise in mindfulness that can add order to your morning routine and set the tone of the day ahead.

Recipe for an Anxiety-free Renovation

Finally, if you’re contemplating a renovation, be sure to visit HomeRenoGuru, Singapore’s No. 1 renovation portal. It’s a great way to do your homework while cutting down on the legwork. What’s more, if you engage your ID through HomeRenoGuru, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing your investment is protected by the HRG Guarantee. It covers your renovation deposit and up to 50% of your contract amount, up to $50,000, in the event that the ID company winds up. It even comes with free legal advice should you need it.

Check out HomeRenoGuru, and Zen out.

whataspp icon