Wednesday, June 29, 2022

One of my dearest friends is a professional organizer, and she excels at what she does. Recently she mentioned something about clutter and stress, and that started my thinking about whether décor can be utilized to help de-stress a home in a way similar to the positive effects achieved by decluttering.

Well, let’s start with clutter. Horizontal spaces can become traps for piles of stuff, and messiness causes anxiety. I convinced one client not to purchase the much-wanted shoe bench with hooks and shelves. Her small entryway was charming just as it was after we placed a reframed piece of art brought back from a special vacation and added a fabric blind for the narrow window next to the front door. Another place to dump items, however “practical” it may seem, would only have led to more clutter.

So pick an area—yes, the front hall—and begin there; it’s where guests form their first impression of your home. Perhaps a new light fixture will brighten up the area, and an attractive mirror will add a gleaming reflection.

If the next space is the living room, think about how decorative objects can help cluster items—a beautiful basket can hold all the throws, for example, and the blend of colors and textures will work together to add an attractive layer into the room. While you’re working in that area, look with fresh eyes and try rearranging furniture or maybe brighten up with slipcovers and some new pillows. I firmly believe that a wonderful new look doesn’t have to cost a lot. If you select pillows in a variety of shapes and with differing fabrics, if you choose your throws in interesting materials, the layering of textures adds a sense of comfort while being relatively easy to move around or to replace as desired.

Since we’re talking about comfort, don’t overlook nature as a decorative element. In a guest room that the homeowners and I did over, the finishing flourish was a simple vase with branches of cotton balls, organic and perfect for the blue-and-white room. So bring in some branches from a shrub like forsythia or add several plants to soothe the eye. If, like me, you don’t have a green thumb, there are companies that have beautiful silk plants to bring in a natural touch.

And while we’re at it, don’t overlook a lovely view from a window. Use window treatments wisely to frame the outlook. I particularly like using top down-bottom up shades for control of light and privacy, and I sometimes also add drapes for softness. For a finishing piece, I do like a valance to frame the overall effect.

Moving into the bedroom, I am sure that we all agree on the benefits of a good night’s sleep. What we might not realize is how our surroundings affect our rest. Beyond investing in sheets that provide a crisp, welcoming embrace, we need to focus on what should not be in our sleeping quarters. I personally advocate against a television in the bedroom, and I always pay attention to what is on the night table, too. Items that add a spa-like feel—such as luxurious hand lotion, a scented candle, a book of affirmations—all combine to help us drift away, and I use Alexa to provide sleep sounds. Also let’s remember that room color is key to helping us unwind, soft rugs muffle sound, and well-chosen artwork adds the top note.

Ah, relaxing. Maybe you meditate, or perhaps as I do, you love to listen to classical music. My favorite pastime, however, is reading, and I have carved a spot just for me to curl up with a wonderful book, a calming cup of tea and my special throw. Consider creating a space for yourself—it doesn’t have to be large—where you can block out interruptions. Choose an area with good lighting, perhaps a pretty view, and add a small side table and a comfy chair.

I hope that a few of these ideas resonate with you and help you to look at your home with a new perspective. It would be my pleasure and my privilege to work with you to achieve one specific goal or tackle a larger project. Budget is always a key consideration, and a project need not be expensive to be successful. Let’s try something together!

Dorene Richman lives in West Orange with her husband, Ron, and their furry family. She can easily be reached at 973.699.1462 or at [email protected]

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