Your Happy Habitat

Author has some tips on how to decorate and furnish your home to make it just feel good.

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The living room: Ever since the American home grew from a one-room cabin to two rooms, one of those rooms has invariably been set aside for "good." And too many of us are still striving to make our living rooms look like a photo op from a shelter magazine instead of an expression of ourselves, Gallagher says. The living room should "show your family and friends who you are and what you care about." With that in mind,

  1. Make it personal. Instead of going to Pottery Barn and buying a vase because it’s in good taste and a certain color, poke through your closets and drawers and see what treasures you might unearth – mementos from a family trip, a gift from great-aunt Nellie. Gallagher’s mantel displays an assortment of Native American pottery collected on frequent visits to Santa Fe to visit her husband’s family. Her coffee table holds a few art books, and a "crazy" family album that daughter Molly put together as a Christmas present one year. "Guests love it! It’s personal."
  2. Manage the TV. "Put it down low and off to one side. Do not let it take over the room so your living room resembles a movie theater."
  3. Move furniture away from the walls. "People have a tendency to line up furniture around the walls and leave a big jungle clearing in the middle." Instead, think about creating arrangements that encourage people to sit around and talk. Gallagher changed her own living room to arrange the chairs in a circle, which encourages people to make eye contact and really engage with each other.

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