We’re thrilled to welcome marriage and family therapist (and past Glitter Guide interviewee!), Chrissy Powers, today to speak on a subject near and dear to so many of our hearts: Home sweet home. Since sharing her space with us late last year, Chrissy has been hard at work making conscientious tweaks in order to celebrate thoughtful functionality. Below, she explains more about her quest to add style- and psychology-based joy to her home, and how you can do the same in your own space!
There is something that happens in every human brain when it feels joy. When the pleasure center of the brain (specifically, the nucleus accumbens) is activated, neurons fire, endorphins are released and joy is felt. I’ve spent quite a few years as a marriage and family therapist learning to help others find joy in healthy ways by letting go of bad habits and forming good relationships resulting in a better quality of life. However, it occurred to me recently that some of the most basic ways to increase joy in our lives might be as simple as changing pillowcases.
Believe it or not, joy can be linked to good design. That does not mean we all need “Live, laugh, love” decals or encouraging cat posters on our walls. It means that we should pay attention to design and the items in our home that breathe life back into us. Aristotle wrote, “Happiness is activity of the soul in accordance with virtue.” This idea is rather abstract, but it’s not far-fetched to think we can find virtue in our home décor. Guided by such inspiration, my experimental journey to find joy in my own home began. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the principles I’ve followed while redesigning my own family space.
1. Declutter your excess stuff.
Start by looking at the cluttered or busy spaces in your home and challenge yourself to get rid of 50 percent of those items. I did this with our mantle, shelves and coffee table. I can’t tell you how much I love having more negative space in our home. It’s freeing and adds a sense of peace to areas that were too busy. I know it’s been said many times before, but having less is more because you end up enjoying the quality items you have.
2. Out with the old, in with the new.
Get rid of things that you associate with negative experiences. It may sound odd, but our old couch was something that was given to my husband before we were married and it never really felt like mine. Investing in a good couch that represents our whole family, yet still didn’t break our budget, was key. Our new sofa from Article transformed our living room. We then updated other key areas of our home with simple pieces like new coordinating accent chairs and a rose gold coffee table.
3. Invest in quality handmade pieces.
Knowing the materials that went into your home accents and who crafted them adds value to your home. I found a beautiful alpaca wool hand-knotted throw from Broadwick Fibers and a handmade lamp and triangle mirror made by Kylle Sebree, both of which add so much life and vitality to our space.
4. Bring the outdoors in.
It might go without saying, but decorate with plants everywhere! Indoor plants have a host of mental and physical benefits. Plants fight indoor pollution and remove chemicals from the air. Some plants—like the purple waffle plant, English ivy, variegated wax plant and asparagus fern—can actually remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from indoor air. Just a few other benefits from studies done include: Improved mood and well-being; reduced stress, anxiety and depression; and increased feelings of calm, relaxation and creativity—and all simply from bringing more greenery into your home. Pretty amazing right?! My favorites include succulents, cacti, hanging air plants (especially in small places) and philodendron, which drape gracefully and grow to great lengths.
5. Don’t be afraid to decorate with white.
Try adding white to the bedroom for clarity. White reflects natural light, which can give any home a more open feel. On a physiology note, natural light can be a benefit to your wake and sleep cycle, making you feel more refreshed. White is easily bleached or touched up with paint if needed, and color pops against a neutral palette. As someone who loves vibrant pieces and a lot of flair, I have learned that adding texture and colorful tones balances a white background. Having two boys of my own, our white walls get their share of marks and scuffs, but usually it’s nothing a Magic Eraser can’t buff out.
6. Mix adult and kid-friendly accents.
In children’s rooms, add whimsy with a mixture of mature items. You may find it more fun to play in a room that is catered to children with adult accents that they can grow into. Designing and decorating children’s rooms is always a process because they continue to grow. I’m constantly getting rid of old toys and trying to make room for actual play. Key pieces like a rope lamp from The Land of Nod look equally as great in any room because it features a timeless quality. I’m in love with the dip-dye denim teepee and floor bins in our son’s room because they can easily be moved from room to room for play and easy clean up.
7. Fill your home with meaningful art.
Add prints in unexpected places, like the kitchen or bathroom. Lively prints and artwork can brighten utilitarian spaces. We live in a time when it’s never been easier to find an artist that you connect with. The Internet has taken out the difficulty in commissioning original pieces, and companies like Framebridge make it a snap to turn your favorite captures from your phone or desktop into lasting artwork. For unique finds, I love searching through Etsy and thrift shops. The most meaningful art in our home is a hand-me-down oil painting from my grandmother, surfboards made by my husband and prints from The Spanish Lady Shop that I commissioned based on my family’s style and interests. I also love when people collect and showcase unexpected items like an old ladder, interesting tapestry, a beautiful hat or vintage baskets. Art is subjective, so fill your home with pieces that speak to you, open your eyes and stimulate your mind.
8. Treat organization like an art form.
Organize and create themed areas in your space. A gallery wall with family photos and inspiring artwork is more impactful when designated to one spot. Stash cleaning items in an easily accessible area, like a cute bin or catch-all basket that hides basic everyday objects. Since applying these principles of design to our own home, the spaces have become more streamlined, easier to clean and more true to our family aesthetic.
- Grey knit blanket
- Arm chairs
- Coffee table
- Square framed prints
- Shibori tea towel
- California tea towel
- Wave tapestry
- Nesting robots
- Teepee, baskets and rope lamp
- Bath time print
- Herbs print
- ‘Be Still,’ ‘Salty Air Beach Hair’ and beach scene print
- Shibori pillow cases
- Shower curtain
- Ceramic planter and stand
- Alpaca wool hand-knotted throw
- Handmade lamp and triangle mirror
- Bathmat and white towels
- Long dress
- Zeke’s overalls
- Zeke’s shoes