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Expert interior designer reveals the secrets of a happy home

From axing clutter to letting lights shine, Sarah Davison explains how to give your home the ultimate wellness makeover…
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Home, as they say, is where the heart is. So how can you make sure yours is a happy one?

In the words of interior designer Sarah Davison (from sarahdavison.com.au), it really can come down to “simple things that make every room feel better”.

Here, she provides some easy tips and tricks to turn your castle into an oasis…

It’s easy being green

The soothing, mood-lifting quality of nature can’t be underestimated. Plants and greenery can make your home feel like a living, occupied space. “A room isn’t finished unless there’s something alive in there,” says Sarah. “It doesn’t cost a lot of time and money. Go for scale – one big plant with some height, like a potted palm, might be better than lots of little ones.” For a simple arrangement, a big bunch of leaves will live for months.

Less clutter, more love

“Everything you need and nothing you don’t need,” is Sarah’s mantra. “Things do build up – even big things, like chairs you don’t sit in. Look at every room and decide what pieces add to the functionality and beauty.” Apart from that, try a statement piece in each room. Think one chair, table, lamp or item that really sets the tone (or acts as a counterpoint to it, such as a pop of colour in an otherwise neutral colour scheme).

Tip: Extend the philosophy to things you use all the time – cutlery, a coffee mug, a perfume bottle. We use only a small fraction of our possessions every day, so make those things count and luxe them up wherever you can.

Let it shine

Windows bring natural light into the home – a sure-fire mood booster – so let them do their job! You don’t have to swamp them with curtains and blinds, especially if they’re south-facing or not overlooked. “It’s amazing how many people have curtains and blinds that cover 30 percent of the window,” says Sarah. “It stunts the proportions of the room. I like to see the sky! Mount blinds above the window frame so that when they stack up, you don’t lose the top part.”

Make rooms feel different

There’s nothing like someone entering your home for the first time and saying, “This feels like you.” But individual rooms can have unique characteristics – so choose different materials, colours and furniture styles for various moods. Monochrome in one might lend a cool touch; pastels in another can warm it up. Likewise, a key piece of furniture will shed their style around it. “You want various spaces in your home – daytime rooms, night-time rooms,” says Sarah, “with a different energy in each one.”

Light-bulb moment

When it comes to interior illumination, the benefits of lamps versus overhead lighting have long been observed. But have you considered the effect that the colour of your bulbs, and whether they’re halogen or LED, has on the mood of a room? “It’s amazing how many people have a mix of warm and cool globes in the same room,” says Sarah.

“All the lighting should match. In houses I like warm globes, the colour of candles – technically that’s 2700 Kelvin [the colour of a regular incandescent or halogen light].”

A home for all seasons

“Like you change your wardrobe, you want a room to feel different in July from how it feels in February,” says Sarah. “You might have a spare set of cushion covers, with velvet in winter and linen in summer. Or richer colours and lighter colours. A few little tweaks are all it takes.” Likewise, it’s instructive to think how a room looks from day to night-time. If it faces east and is bathed in morning light, for example, whiter, brighter colours could be the go.

Sense of smell

“Homes should relate to all the senses,” says Sarah. “Find a scent you love, and use incense or an oil diffuser. It doesn’t have to be a $90 candle! Make your home smell beautiful and represent you.” Go for subtle rather than overpowering. And remember, just like soft furnishings, you can change the fragrance seasonally to suit the weather and atmosphere. If your rooms smell delightful all year round, your home will truly be heaven scent …

The heart of the home

We spend so much time cooking, entertaining and socialising in our kitchens that they are rightly seen as the focal point of the home. And if yours is in need of a refresh, there are two key things you should get right. “Benchtops, because you touch them, and work on them so much, and splashbacks because, being a vertical surface, they’re visually quite dominant in a kitchen,” Sarah says.

“Beyond that, I’d carefully consider cabinetry colour and finish and choose something classic and neutral. White is always a winner.”

Create a sleep sanctuary

Your bed – and certainly your mattress – deserves particular thought. “You can’t over-invest,” says Sarah. “They impact our sleep quality and general wellbeing so much. It’s important to consider and trial what kind of mattress suits best; I’m also a big fan of a bedhead to lean against.”

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