20 Relaxing Home Decor Ideas to Create a Calming Sanctuary

20 Relaxing Home Decor Ideas to Create a Calming Sanctuary


When life feels chaotic — filled with too many smartphone notifications, stresses at work, and interpersonal problems — it can be easy to go into full-on meltdown mode. Unplugging isn’t always an option, and we’d be kidding ourselves if we believed the kids would let us check out for a second. Getting some serenity seems nearly impossible. But what if the design of our homes could actually help us to navigate life's bumpy roads? CafeMom has consulted design and meditation experts on how to build a tranquil sanctuary at home: an essential step to leading a calmer and more relaxed lifestyle.

Before one can get to relaxing, achieving zen requires a smidgen of work. Designing a home that doubles as a sanctuary means that everything — from paint color to furniture texture and even how our junk is stored — should be taken into consideration. 

"What we want to do in any room of the home is engage our senses in a way that will feel peaceful," Lisa Melone Cloughen, an interior designer/yogi and owner of Melone Cloughen Interiors, Inc. told CafeMom. "Create peace on the outside so we can internalize that peace."

Keep scrolling to discover 20 design and decor tips for creating a sanctuary at home from Melone Cloughen; Joy Rains, author of "Meditation Illuminated: Simple Ways to Manage Your Busy Mind" and Mina Fies, CEO of Synergy Design & Construction. Remember, zen enthusiasts: our inner tranquility should match the curtains and knick knacks!

  • Encourage Natural Lighting 


    Sunlight is, of course, a natural mood booster, and proper window hangings can let in more natural light that can offset dark or unnaturally-lit rooms. 

    "I like the idea of a sheer shade that can be pulled back all the way to bring in as much light as needed," Cloughen suggested. 

  • Keep Harsh Lights to a Minimum 


    No one feels their best under the white glare of fluorescent lighting. Melone Cloughen suggests playing with lightbulb wattage and color, and making sure that the chosen light fixtures come with dimmers.

    "Lighting goes hand-in-hand with ambience," she said. "Try to buy lightbulbs in warmer, rather than cooler tones."

  • Try a Neutral Color Palette


    The color schemes in our homes, unsurprisingly can be mood lifters or depressors:

    "Consider a serene color palette for the [home] and of course, choose colors that are pleasing and relaxing," Melone Cloughen said. "Overly vivid, bright or highly contrasting paint or wallpaper detracts from the vibe and over-stimulates the mind and body."

  • Pick Soothing Visuals 


    Picking the right patterns for bedding and upholstery is an important — and very personal — choice that completely shifts the timbre of a home.

    "Optical art patterns may be stressful, for instance, but maybe floral prints would inspire someone who finds gardening peaceful," Joy Rains told CafeMom. "It's super important to trust our gut."

  • Keep Fresh Flowers in the House


    Sometimes all we need to brighten up a space is to head down to the local florist once a week and keep a bouquet in the kitchen or dining room.

    "I love bringing in plants and flowers," Cloughen said. "Flowers don't need to b expensive! They change the temperature of the space and make us feel good when we look at them."

  • Use Aromatherapy


    In a tranquil home, all five senses are stimulated. For a house that smells peaceful (and like salted caramel cupcakes) keep aromatherapy candles lit on a regular basis, Rains suggested. 

  • Install an Indoor Water Fountain 


    The sound of trickling water relaxes the auditory senses, so Rains suggests installing a nature-inspired Buddha water fountain. Buying a relaxing noise machine for the bedroom with sounds of ocean waves and birdsongs can also have a calming effect.

  • Choose Soft Fabrics


    "We want to use soothing fabrics, but that will be different for different people," Rains said. "Velours and other soft fabrics are comforting but someone else might like satin sheets."

  • Use Wood as a Primary Material


    Like most interior design choices, choosing a comforting primary material is a matter of personal preference, but for Rains, wood is a good start.

    "I personally like hardwood floors with deep, rich colors," she said. "I find wood very warm and inviting."

  • Draw Inspiration From Nature


    Nature is the perfect decor inspiration for the calm mind. 

    "Most of us naturally feel a sense of peace when we’re in nature," Mina Fies told CafeMom. "Try bringing stone, natural wood and earth-toned colors in for a woods-inspired getaway or driftwood and seashells for a beach-inspired theme."

  • Set Aside a Meditation Room 


    Setting aside a fixed meditation room or area of the house trains the mind to enter a relaxed state upon entering the room.

    "Remember, no abode is too small for a meditation space!" Rains said. "Pick a favorite chair and set a few inspirational items like candles and a book on a table nearby to create a sanctuary in a small apartment."

  • Display Fresh Produce — Not Gadgets — in the Kitchen 


    Clear the clutter in a kitchen for a more inviting feel:

    "In a zen kitchen, I don't want to see things like the toaster or coffeemaker out,"  Melone Cloughenon said. "On my island, I keep things visually organized and almost always have a platter of fruits or vegetables out."

  • Embrace the Junk Drawer


    The kitchen might be as neat as a pin but those spools of string, pencils, and school supplies still need a place to go.

    "Do not ignore the need for the junk drawer's existence!" Fies said. "We all need to have easy access to tape, scissors and a pad of paper so make sure to plan for those when planning out cabinets."

  • Keep Extra Stuff in Storage Baskets


    There's no reason why storage solutions shouldn't be attractive and fit the decor of a household.

    "Much of the time, I use baskets," Melone Cloughenon said. "They are not expensive and can hold lots of stuff. Plus, it easily keeps things tucked away and on a shelf."

  • Make the Living Room Cozy and Inviting 


    In the past, living rooms were formal spaces for company and special occasions only, but that should not be the case for a tranquil home.

    "I’m a big fan of having lots of comfortable throws and pillows," Melone Cloughenon said. "A living room should not feel like a still life painting."

  • Ban Electronics From the Bedroom


    It might be difficult, but keeping TVs, smart phones, and other devices out of bed is a good idea.

    "The bedroom should be a visual cue for rest and relaxation,"Fies said. "The more stimulus that's in it, the harder it will be to fall and stay asleep."

  • Avoid Busy Design Trends


    A cluttered space with too many accessories, knick-knacks and flooring materials is a chaotic space, Fies explained.

    "Most of us are collectors by nature and, as the years pass, we tend to accumulate more than we need," she said. "I suggest changing out keepsakes seasonally."

  • Display a Vase Full of Meditation Stones


    River rocks or stones as decoration can double as meditation accessories:

    "I keep smooth river stones to hold in my hand as an object of focus," Rains said. "I keep a basket of them in my meditation space."

  • Choose Wall Decorations That Evoke Memories


    When choosing wall decorations, it's important to pick prints or paintings that stir happy memories, Rains said. She suggested hanging wall decorations that remind us of calming locations like the ocean or woods. 

  • Get the Kids Involved


    Teach kids the art of beautiful organization to make a peaceful home even easier to achieve. 

    "When my kids were young, they knew that they needed to make their beds and tidy up their rooms by the end of the day," Melone Cloughenon said. "Eventually its second-nature."

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