Right about now most design magazines are talking about the benefits of organizing, decluttering and refreshing your home. While those things are important, there are also subtle things you can do, based on ancient rituals and time-honored practices, that can add an immediate sense of rejuvenation, calm and beauty to your surroundings. Try a few of these suggestions to address more than just the physical aspects of your home.
After I went through some significant life changes in 2013, it was more important than ever to ensure that I cleared my home of not only tangible clutter but bad memories, negative energy and the overall sadness that had settled into the fabric of every room.
The steps that follow released negative energy from my home and helped to create a sense of peace and well-being in it.
Clear the Air
“Space clearing” is the feng shui art of clearing and revitalizing energies in buildings. Many believe that the process is as essential to the energy maintenance of a place as physical cleaning is to the physical maintenance.
If you’ve ever been in a place where something sad or angry has happened, you can often feel it hanging in the air long afterward, like a fog. Doing a deep cleaning takes away physical dust, and rearranging furniture freshens a look, but space clearing can remove unseen residual energy in the room.
There are many resources online for how to conduct a space clearing, but you can start with a simplified version. Clap loudly into all corners of the room. It is thought that this dislodges stuck energy. Afterward, light a smudge stick — a small hand-tied bundle of sage you can get at most health food stores — and wave it in the corners of the room from top to bottom, as well as around doorways and under furniture. If the smudge smoke bothers you, substitute a small bowl of essential oil and gently hold it in those same places for a moment.
It may sound silly, but give it a try. What have you got to lose but stuck energy?
Give Yourself Room to Breathe
I live in a small home and don’t have a meditation room, but I have a tiny area where I curl up and enjoy the sun through the window if that’s what I need to do. Everyone needs a space where they can go and empty their head.
Think of a place in your home where you can be still and quiet, and can relax. It can be a corner piled with pillows, a nook under a window or a separate room altogether.
When my daughter was young, I would snuggle her next to me on a giant beanbag and quietly read her stories. To us this was meditative. When she was overwrought, I would tell her to sit in our quiet space and get calm. Somehow this worked. I’m not saying it will work for everyone, but it did for her and for me.
To this day if I am stressed from work, need clarity or just want to chill, I go into my “nest” and be still. A quiet place is an easy, incredibly valuable thing.
Just Add Water
Water is a serene element that is not only life giving; it is life sustaining. Without it, we can’t survive. There is something incredibly calming about gazing into a still pond or watching a set of waves roll in. You can bring this serenity indoors by adding a water feature.
Many of us do not have large enough homes to incorporate an indoor pool, but there are a number of gorgeous water features available for even the smallest of spaces. I love the idea of using one in the entryway. They are also fantastic in a sleeping space to add white noise.
If the idea of an active water feature doesn’t appeal to you, fill a beautiful bowl with water, add a few drops of bleach to prevent algae, maybe some small chunks of amethyst or quartz crystal for the bottom, and float candles or garden flowers in it. You can change the water whenever you want; the theory is that it adds life to the room while absorbing negativity.
Add Soulful Artifacts
I have antique religious statues prominently displayed in my home. I find them both calming and meaningful. While I understand that many people do not want to seem overly religious or mix objects from different faiths, for many others these things seem to complete a home in a way other objects simply cannot.
I have collected religious artifacts most of my life, and my collection is a mixed bag of antiquities that invites conversation, contemplation and appreciation. There is a reason so many people are drawn to sacred objects: They are imbued with the love of whoever created them, and this trickles down through the ages.
I’m not saying you need to have a large concrete Virgin Mary in your living room (like I do), but you should consider adding something you find sacred to your main living spaces. It can be traditional, such as a wedding portrait of your great-grandmother or an ancestor’s framed love letter written in another language, or it can be something unexpected, like a tiny lock of hair from your child’s first haircut in a shadow box. Whatever you incorporate, it should be something that makes your heart feel good when you look at it.
Add Some Greenery
In Chinese culture the gift of a plant — specifically entwined bamboo shoots or a money tree — is common when someone moves to a new house, opens a business or starts a new job. These plants signify growth, life and luck. Plants also provide oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and add organic beauty to a room.
Every client I have tells me they can’t grow plants; they forget about them, or their animals eat them. I have turned each and every one into successful plant owners (although a couple have air plants). Introducing or refreshing greenery is a wonderful way to add life to a space. Houzz has a fantastic selection of ideabooks on the perfect indoor plants for any situation.
Each year I take small cuttings off my most prolific and hearty succulents and plant them in tiny vintage containers to give to my friends. It’s my way of sharing something meaningful I have lovingly cared for. They are super hard to kill and easy to replace.
The best way to remember how much to water your indoor plants is to set a reminder for yourself on your phone. It will keep you from under- or overwatering them. Not every plant is a good one, and most nurseries have a return policy, in case one dies soon after purchase. Be sure to check the policy wherever you buy.
Related: Happy Houseplants, Happy People
If you are averse to taking the plunge into plant ownership, invest in a fresh-cut bouquet each week. Nothing cheers up a room more than a beautiful arrangement. It doesn’t have to be an expensive bouquet — it can be cuttings from your garden, greens you gather on your morning walk or a bunch you grabbed from the local market. Just be sure to use your loveliest containers and change the water every two days.
When the flowers wilt or die, it’s important to remove them as soon as possible. In many cultures dead things are thought to bring bad luck and energy into a space, so check the flowers each time you change the water and add and subtract blooms as necessary. It’s worth a try to nurture something living.
Original article written by Melisa LaBancz-Bleasdale on Houzz.