By Lauren Piro
Life is too hectic for your home to not be a quiet respite from it all. We asked interior designers, professional organizers, and (of course!) real moms for their easy, practical advice on creating some breathing room each and every day.
1. Give everything in your entryway a home.
A calming vibe starts as soon as you step in the door, and a cluttered foyer can carry disarray and restlessness throughout your home, The solution? Make its organization brainless.
"I have a pretty stand to immediately place umbrellas in on a rainy day," says interior designer Keita Turner. "I installed a switchplate that has a key hook and also a place for mail. And in my coat closet, I hung hat and scarf hooks on the inside of the door."
2. Outsmart kiddie chaos with a little ingenuity.
"As mother of a creative, active toddler, I found a brilliant way to keep my son from writing all over the walls," says interior designer Laurie Haefele. "I installed a white board on the lower portion of the wall in my family room. Now he can have his creative freedom while my walls stay clean of any 'art.'"
3. Make clutter roll away (literally).
Thanks to piles of mail, craft supplies, and toy collections, decluttering is a process that's never really done. Instead of fighting it, try this way to hide it.
"My dining table used to a be a mess, since I was always using it to sort paperwork, mail, or whatever everyday stuff accumulated," says professional organizer Jaime Novak. "Now I use a rolling cart. I can roll it under the table or in a closet, or just toss a tablecloth over it when I have company. I also use a cart to move laundry from room to room, and another to roll food and dishes into the dining room from the kitchen. It's not that I have super-long hallways, but the carts allow me to take one trip instead of many."
4. Ensure that your day ends on a soothing, luxurious note.
"When all else fails, splurge on high-end sheets," says interior designer Dee Murphy. "There are days when not even well-placed flowers or a helpful basket can help take the edge off. So head to bed with the certainty of softness from your nose to your toes, and promise yourself a well-rested tomorrow."
5. Allow some space for mess.
You won't have a completely spotless and tidy home all the time (sorry to break it to you). But you can contain the clutter by having a dedicated space for it.
"Maybe you have a homework table for your kids, where they can throw backpacks and books," say feng shui expert Anjie Cho. Or, assign just one bin for forms and bills, or a basket where your family can drop bags, scarves, and whatever else they bring in every day — and know exactly where to find them later.
6. Employ music's power of suggestion.
"When tempers start to rise and crankiness emerges, I turn on relaxing classic music," says home mentor Lisa Luken. "Usually by dinnertime soothing music is playing! And on mornings when it's tough to get everyone moving, I play energetic music. It improves everyone's mood and gets us out the door (no missed busses!).
7. Place a small vase in every room.
"I consistently keep fresh flowers all over the house," says etiquette coach Heather Post. "Not matter how messy the house is, they add a touch of beauty and serenity, and it's a cheaper solution than you think. I buy one bouquet at the supermarket and divide it into small bunches. Even the process of changing out the flowers weekly has become its own calming ritual."
8. Be strict about no-phone zones.
Technology can certainly be helpful, but constant pings and alerts have a tendency to keep us on edge.
"Set boundaries for when and where tech can be used at home," says stress-reduction coach Melissa Heisler. "Try banning phones at the dinner table to allow time for your family to reconnect, or test turning your phone off before you go to bed. Constant notifications can keep you from sleeping, and take some time in the morning to wake up gently before you reach for your device and jump into the fray of your day."
9. Leave yourself soothing reminders.
"Plant cues that help elicit a relaxed feeling at home," says counselor Julie Kaminski. "A seashell from a vacation, the word 'breathe' in a piece of art, or using 'relax' as a computer password (among many other ideas) are small things that can really help create a peaceful environment."
10. Store everything you need within easy reach.
Your cabinets are stuffed with items, but you don't have to constantly battle cluttered shelves, dark corners, or catch-all storage to get to what you need.
"Put lazy Susans inside cabinets, and in your fridge to make condiments easy to grab," says designer Ali Livolsi.
"I have a set of basic cleaning supplies and roll of paper towels under each sink," says professional organizer Katherine Trezise. "I bought inexpensive paper towel holders and mounted them on inside of the cabinet doors, and added small plastic caddies for the cleaners. When company is coming, I can do a quick clean-up without having to hunt for supplies."