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I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but we’ve been spending a lot of time at home. Ever since our world shrunk down, the home has subsumed everything from office space, recreational centres and dining establishments, to gyms and schools. And we realised that now, more than ever, we need our homes to reflect what we’re missing in the world outside—calm, balance and nature, to provide us with a much-needed sense of wellness that our homes can bring us.
Here’s how you can make small modifications that make a big impact on your mental and emotional wellness:
Open up your space
For Kuldeep Kaur, founder of destination design store Serendipity Delhi, that takes the form of opening up space and reducing clutter. “Space is not so much of a constraint for people living in the country, but for a lot of us in cities, with our homes now being multi-tasked into pretty much everything, the need to expand interior space is essential.” She suggests putting away all non-essential clutter and paring down things in the home to what is actually needed and functional. “That would help open up space and facilitate a better flow of energy. With our brains already cross-wired and in overdrive with so much going on, a disorganised space only adds to the chaos, increasing our stress levels.”
Kaur also suggests opening up any access points to the outdoors that you might have closed off or not used before. Large windows that allow a lot of natural light into the house can be opened up and if you have the luxury of an inner courtyard or large family rooms, repurpose those as gathering areas for the family. This will help twofold: in creating a sense of familial connectivity and will serve as an inlet for fresh air and the elements. “If you have the luxury, then adding a skylight is a good way to keep that interaction with nature going,” says Kaur.
Use colours wisely
To create a sense of centered calm, colour will play a huge role. Strategically deploy paint based on your personality and the mood you want to achieve. For instance, look to low-intensity colours to bring in a gentle and nourishing feel; this will help you dial down in the areas of your home like the bedroom, where you need a low-key, relaxing vibe. Choose pairings of warm and cool colours to create a sense of balance and harmony.
In areas of the home where you need to nourish and nurture your creativity, mind, and body, mimic colours based on nature. Moody, mid-tones of blues and teals or cool greens, make you feel calm, restful, and inspired. To further enhance a sense of peace and relaxation, use quiet paint colors such as white, soft pastel blues, shades of mint, and butter as these definitely help in creating a serene environment. Kaur says to look to Havelis and old palaces in Rajasthan, or the beautiful 18th century buildings in Europe, for inspiration. “They all have a generous usage of soft calm colors especially white with mint and blue accents. Circle back to how you have felt every time you have walked into or past these structures—the vibe is always very positive and calming.”
Asian Paints has introduced a Wellness Palette to help with this process. This palette include pre-set colour schemes for homes that are bound to have a healing and calming effect on the mind. Colour schemes have been built around three different aspects of wellness - Celebrate (colours that bring joy), Rejuvenate (colours that make you feel calm) and Nurture (colours that bring a sense of balance).
The soft colours of Rejuvenate and Nurture on the walls can be accentuated with patterned flooring to give rest to the eyes and also add that tiny bit of drama, suggests Kaur. Alternatively, if you’re the type that loves a strong statement, bright colours from the Celebrate palette can bring joy, pep, and energy to a home. Bring these shades into play and family areas where high-spirited activities take place.
Use natural materials for furniture and accessories
If wellness is the end goal, the best materials to get you there will be nature-made. “Incorporating usage of natural elements in your interiors enhances a sense of simplicity and staying connected to our roots,” according to Kaur. Her picks are natural materials such as marble, terracotta or stone for flooring, wall finishes with a natural texture and ceilings with an exposed wooden beam, (you could cheat that and create a faux ceiling with natural wooden panels). She recommends taking a leaf from the Laurie Baker stylebook with having one feature wall in exposed brick.
Else, a stone paneled wall in common areas such as family rooms would serve to add that extra layer to your home that will ground your surroundings in nature and bring the outdoors in. Use the same care while selecting your finishing touches. A trendy, of-the-moment element but one with eternal appeal, is cane. Woven cane panels in furniture give the impression of your space being rooted in nature.
Kaur prefers handmade wooden furniture with a gleaming oil finish to perfectly showcase the natural grain of the wood, handwoven sustainable textiles for draperies and upholstery, and handmade decorative accessories such as terracotta vases and planters in the house to further tie everything together.
Complete the scene with foliage as décor elements
If you’re lucky enough to have any outdoor spaces in your home, be it a garden, patio, balcony, or terrace, infusing these spaces with plants, and greenery can work to reduce stress and induce a sense of calm. In that case, go for sweet-smelling flowering plants, so that one more of your senses can participate in the bounty of nature. Pick from night-blooming jasmine, Azores jasmine, lemon balm, lavender, and any varietal of rose, says Ekta Chaudhary of Garden Up. Growing edible plants like basil, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass give a sense of joy and achievement. Keep in mind flowering plants and edible ones need three to four hours of direct sun.
For maximum impact (and Instagram appeal), pick an areca palm or any kind of palm, a tall fiddle leaf fig or burgundy rubber plant. For homes with no direct sunlight, foliage plants are a good bet. Chaudhary suggests monstera deliciosa, caladium bicolour, euphorbias, coleus, or elephant ear. Other indoor plants that do well in low light are snake plant, dieffenbachia, ZZ plant, syngoniums, and peperomia.
Chaudhary says floor space is not a prerequisite to be a plant parent. Go vertical with creepers and hanging plants like philodendron erubescens, philodendron scandens, philodendron hederaceum, English ivy, string of pearls, or string of nickels.
For Kaur, equally impactful would be to move things around in the house so as to maximize any large windows overlooking a park, ridge, or even out to trees. “Nature, as they say, is the greatest healer,” she says.
A spot that is just yours
Kaur advises to create a small oasis, a go-to nook in your home where you can decompress. Build that space out around an interest or hobby, like creating a library, study, or an exercise room to read, paint, listen to music, or practice yoga. You don’t need a lot of square footage to do this; “make creative usage of attic space, your garage or even a small outdoor room such as a ‘barsaati’ on your terrace could perhaps be your retreat within your home, where you can just curl up and relax,” she adds.
Mainly, this is the time to focus on what’s truly essential. Put away those cool artworks you purchased on a whim and instead put up that handmade bagh textile which has been in your family for generations, or that sculpture purchased on one of your most memorable trips. “A little bit of nostalgia goes a long way in keeping memories alive, which is especially critical in dealing with a certain amount of trauma we are all are going through at a subconscious level,” says Kaur.
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