Mark your territory with clues to what you like and it will inspire you to get moving.
Photo Joanna Henderson © CICO Books and Ryland Peters & Small 2020.
Be thoughtful about what gets to be in your home, what brings you comfort.
Photo Debi Treloar © CICO Books and Ryland Peters & Small 2020.

Forget about trends, forget about the latest, greatest colours to paint your rooms. Instead, think about what would make you happier. And give this job to your home. This is the beginning of a journey that designer and author Rebecca West takes us on in her book Happy Starts at Home, Change Your Space, Transform Your Life. It could be a game changer for you. West says, “The truth is your home can directly improve your well-being and contentment. It can help decrease your anxiety level and increase your happiness.” Her book is about using her step by step approach to self-discovery as a tool to make change happen in your life.

Questionnaires throughout the book help you to decode what it is that you really want and need in your life and what’s stopping you from achieving your goals. Whether it’s the need for more sleep, healthier eating habits, and exercise, less time glued to ‘screens’ – TV, phone, social media, define the problem/s. By working with clients who share the same challenges as you and me, West has developed a unique take on rooting out the negative so that your home does its best to make you happy.

Anxiety makes people feel sick. And incomplete tasks create unconscious stress. Tackling some little tasks that you ignore can make a difference. A dusty blind that catches your eye when the sun shines, a squeaky door, a leaky faucet, burnt out lightbulbs are irritants that you might not think are bugging you, but they are. Fix them and see how much better you feel.

West states that clutter, even when it is hidden away in a closet or basement takes up space in our bodies. Is it guilt that stops you from discarding those old boxes of family photos, or that china collection of your great aunt’s that you hate? Visible clutter is damaging too. Piles of papers or clothes or dirty dishes are negatives that don’t help your mood. Bad habits such as over-eating or being a couch potato take hold.

Through a series of questions, West helps you to get to the root of what is not good and what will boost your self-esteem and happiness. Think about how you feel when you walk in the door, and how you want your friends to feel when they come over. Personal furnishing choices from sofas to lamps allow you to tell your story. Get rid of what you don’t like.

Having trouble sleeping? Ensure that your bedroom is a sanctuary that promotes rest. Distractions can include a TV, your phone, an uncomfortable mattress, too much or too little light (think blackout curtains), noise (from outside or inside).

Preparing food is a daily necessity. Design and equip your kitchen, no matter how small it is, to make this a pleasant experience. If you have no counter space to work on, or if your shelves are jammed and unorganized, cooking will be a frustrating and unwanted chore.

Check over your home, room by room, and create triggers that remind you to do the things you enjoy and want to pursue. If you invested in a treadmill and aren’t using it, ask yourself why. Is it stuck in a dark corner out of the way? Either move it or get rid of it; otherwise not using it will make you feel guilty. Instead have some fun such as painting a vignette shown here where a bike has been stenciled onto the wall and running shoes are at the ready. This is upbeat and promises to get you moving.