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    7 Pathways to Serenity in Your Home

    How Not to Feel Isolated While Isolating

    Confined indoors – when we’ve run out of craft projects and board games, and baked those fudge brownies and finished that 1000 piece puzzle for the hundredth time this week – perhaps it is time to realize that staying busy does not always lead to staying calm.

    Rather than focus on the confinement, why not enjoy the placidity? I bring you 7 simple steps to creating a serene home where one feels centered yet stimulated instead of bored or anxious.

    If you live in a zen gray and white minimalist loft or any other kind of monochromatic or earth-toned dwelling – you’re half-way there already! if not, it is not too late to start creating a peaceful space with some clever and affordable Interior Design tricks.

    I do not suggest that you start a major makeover in the middle of everything. For heaven’s sake, no….!

    What I do say is that you can have a tranquil environment, using what you have at hand, by introducing a few chosen elements that are known to create a calm and serene home, no matter what your style. Think about it as comfort food for your home when the going gets tough!

    7 easy pathways to achieving that serene abode in which you will enjoy staying indoors:

    Move Furniture Away From the Walls. Furniture items – sofas, loveseats, chairs should not be butted against each other. Leave a breathing room of 2 ft around furniture items to allow people to move around easily.  Keep traffic pathways open. The rule of thumb is leaving a 3 ft space in front of doors and entryways. This is crucial not just for the aesthetics but for reasons of safety and to achieve full functionality of the space.  Design that does not function well is flawed design. 

    In the bedroom, beds must not be pushed against a wall. When you push a bed up against the wall, apart from the difficulty of trying to make the bed each morning – it prevents the circulation of the energy evenly around the room and that is known to cause disruptions in our sleep patterns.

    Install dimmers for soft lighting in the living room, dining room and bedroom. It introduces calming vibes. You can get a wide selection of easy-to-install dimmer switches at Home Depot and Lowes.

    Deck the Walls – Well, not that kind of decking. It’s too early in the year for that!  Instead, gather all your vacation pictures, or a collection of your kid’s artwork. Then enlarge them. Next, frame them in carved wood frames or simple metal frames, depending on the vibe – traditional and elegant or modern and sleek – you want to create. Hang them up on the walls in an area such as a hallway or staircase where you will pass by them every day. If you do not want to have them framed opt to mount them on hand-hewn wooden stretcher or shadowbox frames. Keep in mind they must have a common theme – vacations – or family milestones such as birthdays, graduations, weddings etc. They should all be either within the same color scheme or have similar frames.

    Follow these 12 steps for hanging pictures:

    You will need – contact paper, scissors, duct tape, picture wire, picture hooks, a hammer, a soft art pencil, a level or straight-edged ruler and an eraser – apart from the framed photos you plan to hang.

    1. Lay each photo face down on a sheet of contact paper or newsprint and trace around the frame outline with a pencil. 
    2. Now put aside the photo and with a pair of scissors, cut out the shape you traced with the pencil to make a paper mock-up of the photo.
    3. Next, arrange the photos on the floor to create a grouping, spacing them out as you would like to place them on the wall.
    4. When you are satisfied with your arrangement on the floor, Start taping the paper mock-ups corresponding to each one of the photos in the exact same position as you planned on the floor with duct tape or painter’s tape.
    5. Once you have put up mock-ups to represent each photo in your grouping, trace around the outline of the paper with an art pencil.
    6. Then peel off the mock-up from the wall. You can see the shape of the photo outlined in pencil on the wall.
    7. Measure the center point on the top border.
    8. Next, measure 2 or 6 or 8 inches down (depending on how large the framed photo is ) from that top center point and mark it with an X.
    9. This X is the spot where you hammer in the picture hook to hang the photo.
    10. Once you’ve hammered in the picture hook, take an eraser and erase the pencil outline.
    11. Next, hang the photo.
    12. Repeat for each photo – one at a time.

    This can be a group project for an afternoon, with a task assigned to each family member. The photos (of a vacation or a special occasion) will remind the family of happy times and things that matter  – and help restore good spirits to your brood, some of whom may be feeling a bit cooped up.

    Another simple way of showcasing family photos is to prop the framed photos on a floating wall shelf and change them from time to time.

    A Company called pictureframes.com (easy to remember) can ship your frames in 4 business days for certain stocked items. Simply go to their website and choose a frame and they do the rest.

    Toss a Few Oversized Pillows on the sofa and armchairs. Large-sized pillows make the room feel inviting and cozy and are great for snuggling up for an afternoon nap. Have pairs in colors and patterns that go together – in complementary colors and patterns. They do not have to match.  Here’s one of my favorite tricks – in the category of affordable design – that I often share with my clients. Buy a few sturdy washable covers for your pillow inserts and change them from time to time – to keep your space from looking and feeling monotonous.   

    Cover a Wall in Fabric – Introduce cozy softness to your space by covering one wall of your room in a lightweight remnant fabric in a soft earth tone. No more living with builder’s grade Swiss Coffee on your walls! The fabric must be unstitched – perhaps leftover from custom cotton drapes. You can also use an unused bed sheet or old curtains – make sure to cut out the hemmed portion at the bottom or un-hem it before starting. Try not to use patterns with precise straight lines as that will make it harder to achieve pattern-matching for the separate fabric lengths as you hang them up. Choose a simple solid or a subtle pattern like the Ikat wallpaper below.

    You will need – Tape measure, scissors, screwdriver, soft towel, paint roller with low-nap roller head, drop cloth or plastic sheet, liquid starch, thumbtacks, small hand-held squeegee or wallpaper tool, strait-edge ruler, utility knife, ladder, apart from the fabric lengths you will hang.

    Follow these 8 steps for creating a cozy fabric wall:  

    1. Measure the width of the wall you are going to cover. Most fabric is 45 or 54 inches wide (40” – 42” wide in the UK), so now you can calculate how many lengths you’ll need by measuring the height of the wall. It’s better to have a bit more fabric than you need, rather than not enough.
    2. Wash the fabric lengths. Handwashing is preferable as this will prevent the edges from fraying and the fabric becoming stretched and irregular which might result in your measurements being a little off.  Some people like to hand-wash them in the bathtub – I feel the handwash cycle on the washer is good. Dry them. Then snip off the fringed edges with a pair of small scissors to present a straight edge.
    3. While the fabric is being washed, Prepare the wall. Remove all electrical switch plates with a screwdriver. Some people like to wash the walls using a sponge and bucket. I prefer to wipe off the walls with aa soft towel to get rid of any dust and grime that might have collected over time.  If you wash the walls however, make sure they are fully dry before you begin hanging the fabric.
    4. Apply starch on the walls with a paint-roller. You can use liquid starch found at most supermarkets or at craft stores. Purex Sta-Flo liquid starch is sold at Walmart and Ralphs. This way you won’t damage the wall – especially important if you are renting and you can easily take down the fabric “wallpaper” when you move. Pour the starch on to a paint tray (if you have one lying around) or into a large plastic kitchen container. For best results use a roller head with a low nap. When working on this step, cover the floor with drop-cloths or a plastic sheet. It can get a tad messy. Do not slather starch over electricals.
    5. Hang the fabric. Get a ladder if it is a high-ceilinged room – which is always the case with me – whether I’m doing this at a client’s home or mine – since I am only 5ft 1 inch tall 🙂 This is the step that requires patience as it is a bit detailed. It may be a good idea to have a helper for this step. Have them hold down the top of the panel you are putting up as you smooth it down with a hand-held squeegee or wallpaper tool. Another option is to hold the panel in place with thumbtacks along the top edge to keep it straight. You can remove the tacks after everything is done and dry. Don’t worry if some of the fabric goes over the baseboard or fireplace ledge or window trim – as you will trim these later.
    6. Roll more starch on top of the fabric and let dry.
    7. When the starch is dry to the touch, trim the extra fabric around door and window trims and baseboard with a straight-edge and a sharp utility knife. Make sure your knife is really sharp. Go over again and again if you need to, but make sure not to pull or drag hard.   
    8. Re-install the switch plates.

    Sit back and enjoy the feeling of being cocooned in luxurious comfort – that soothes your senses and might help get you and the family through tough times.

    Hang Black and White Artwork on an anchor wall – either behind a sofa in the living room or above the bed in the master bedroom.  Choose between a single giant art installation….

    ….or a pair of small prints in a unifying theme. It will calm down the room and with it, the people in it.

    Add Soft Textured Throws – Get an extra-plush throw to curl into on family movie nights. The feeling is like the one you get with that first mouthful of your favorite comfort food. Select one in a soft fabric in a style that works with your room – a chunky cable-knit fisherman’s throw or a deep pile ombre faux fur throw.

    Let us gather the family together and show our loved ones we love them as we enjoy our serene home, celebrating this day and the things that make us happy.    

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