30+ Design Tricks to Make Your Home Your Happy Place

It's the roundup you've been waiting for: Fun and easy ways to make any space bright, calming and so happy, according to HGTV editors and designers.

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April 24, 2020
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It's Your Happy Place

Home is a sanctuary, a cheerful retreat, somewhere you can relax and always feel … well, at home. No matter the shape, size or style of your space, there are so many small (and big!) ways to make it feel extra special. I asked HGTV editors and designers: How do you make a space its happiest? Here’s what they said.

Light a Candle (or Two!)

My tip is simple: candles! I love lighting them in the darkness of my room at night. The soft, flickering flame creates the coziest, happiest vibe. Candles are great for daytime too. Abigail Cook Stone, Otherland co-founder and CEO suggests, “Treat yourself to a ‘miracle morning’ with a candle-lit yoga session; burn one deskside to center your attention and engage in a productive work session; or transform an unused corner of your home into a meditation nook with a favorite candle and some comfortable pillows.” If you need help finding the perfect candle, I suggest: Votivo (the Red Currant scent is my favorite), Paddywax, Otherland, Anthropologie’s Capri Blue line or anything Bath and Body Works. If you want to spread candle-love to your friends, check out Vellabox or ApothePure.

Take Essential Oils For a Spin

Looking for a flameless option? “Essential oils help me set a happy mood in my home,” explains Laura James, commerce editor for HGTV.com. “I love diffusing calming lavender before bed and an energizing citrus oil like lemon or orange during the day when I’m trying to be productive. While it’s certainly a splurge, I really like this ceramic diffuser from Vitruvi because it almost looks more like a piece of art or ceramic vase than an ultrasonic diffuser. It complements my apartment’s decor and makes it smell amazing.”

Buy It: Amazon, $120

Sprinkle Your Space With Eucalyptus

Laura also loves filling her house with fresh flowers and plants, and eucalyptus leaves in particular. She finds them at the grocery store, then styles the leaves in cute vases or recycled containers, “so they don’t look like they’re from the grocery store,” she says. PSA: Eucalyptus smells amazing, and it’s said to promote relaxation.

Rearrange Accessories

Sometimes you just need a refresh. “Swap out blankets and pillows, move plants and lamps to give each room a breath of newness,” say Aly Morford and Leigh Lincoln, co-founders of Pure Salt Interiors. “We are not suggesting buying new things — simply re-envisioning your space with what you’ve got in the next room. Swap and shift things around. You’ll be surprised how good it feels.”

Make a Mindfulness Corner

We could all use one of these! “Include items like floor pillows, candles, books and music to complete the space,” Aly and Leigh suggest.

Cozy Up Your Bathroom

The bathroom is your refuge, so why not make it as relaxing as possible? “Bring in soft items you don't normally have in the bathroom, like an upholstered stool or pouf,” Aly and Leigh say. “Or bring in plants from other rooms while you're relaxing in the tub. This will help transport you and create a special feeling, that it's not your normal bathing experience."

Create Pretty Displays

Have a bunch of oranges and apples and bananas to snack on? Aly and Leigh suggest making them look pretty! Here’s how: Peel off the unsightly stickers, find a beautiful bowl and place them on the dining room table. Voila!

Let the Dog In

Your dog is a verified member of your fam, right? Well, Kelly Smith Trimble, HGTV.com editorial director, is happiest when her dog has free rein of her house — even if it means extra vacuuming. “Growing up, our dogs spent most of their time outside, rarely in the house. That made for a cleaner house, but now that I have a home and pup of my own, he roams freely indoors and out (thanks to a dog door),” Kelly explains. “The joy of having a smiling, happy pup around far outweighs the downsides — and hey, vacuuming is good exercise anyway!”

Break Out All Your Vases

They don’t have to match perfectly! “We love a little collection of patterned vases with fresh flowers and greenery, somewhere that you’ll see it every day,” says Kristin Moehlig, junior designer at Terracotta Design Build Co. “When you do get the chance to leave the house for a walk, you can collect trimmings from the neighborhood, no purchase necessary!”

Design a Nook You’ll Never Want to Leave

“Happiness is approachability; a place that someone wants to linger in!” says Kate Marker, principal designer and owner of Kate Marker Interiors. “I love pairing layered textures and a soft color palette as a foundation, then sprinkling in [sentimental] items of interest for character." Here, Kate paired a rattan headboard and patterned pillows with beautiful blue and white wallpaper by Brooke and Lou.

Decorate With Memories

I have pictures in bookcases, on the walls and on nightstands throughout my house,” says Lauren Fansler, special projects editor at HGTV.com. “I love looking at past travel or happy moments in life. Pictures make my home more personal and can be a great conversation piece!”

Add Some Art

“Incorporating art can change the whole feel of a room,” says Lizzie Simon, assistant visuals editor for HGTV Magazine. Mix in cozy blankets and cute pillows, and your space will feel as cozy as Lizzie’s living room New York City. Peep her chic illustration from Etsy.

Nix Harsh Lighting

Chelsea Faulkner, design editor for HGTV.com, says it right: overhead lighting is bleak, impersonal and bright in all the wrong ways. “The obvious solution,” she says, “is lamps, but I’ve found that sometimes they don’t give off the amount of light I like. So, I tuck small lamps in unusual places like behind the TV, on the kitchen counter and on the bookshelf to add soft pools of light all around, which makes me oh-so happy.”

Make It Light, Bright and Blue

The key to a zen space? According to Samantha Roberts, assistant market editor for HGTV Magazine, it’s all about a light and bright palette. “I like to keep it super neutral, from my bedding to my furniture,” she tells HGTV.com. “I layer in pops of color — blue is my all-time favorite — with small accessories to bring subtle personality into the fold. This vase is a recent addition to my nightstand. I love it!”

Fill Your Space With Light

Lindye Galloway of Lindye Galloway Interiors doesn’t just mean it literally — accessories can bring brightness to a space too. “Show off new counter stools, expose fresh produce, style light accessories on the countertops and always add florals or greenery,” she recommends.

Show Off Your Travel Trinkets

Why keep them hidden away? Shannon Petrie, managing editor of programming for HGTV.com, says, “I always pick up a small accent piece or two when I visit a new place and display them throughout my house, so I’m constantly reminded of my most memorable trips. I also love maps and globes to bring a worldly vibe to a room.”

Go Back to the Basics

When Maritza Capiro, founder and principal designer of Maritza Capiro Designs Corp, creates sanctuary-like space for clients, she starts from the beginning, focusing on materials, natural light and scale. “Many studies have shown that human beings benefit greatly from exposure to natural light,” Maritza tells HGTV.com. “I always include natural elements in my designs like fresh flowers and plants. I also use natural materials in fabrics, furnishings and fixtures.”

Get Crafty, Silhouette Style

“Home is where my hearts are and by ‘hearts,’ I mean my two girls, Sophie and Phoebe,” says Camille Smith, managing editor, HGTV.com. “Pups this adorable ought to be in pictures so I turned iPhone pics of my girls into colorful Victorian-style silhouettes.”

Here's How: DIY Dog Silhouette Wall Art

Don’t Overlook Antiques

Ever wonder why interior designers incorporate antique and vintage items into all of their designs? Easy: Antiques lend character, charm and a sense of history that bring any room to life. “As a kid, I spent every weekend scouring yard sales, flea markets and estate sales with my mom and sister for fab finds at bargain prices,” Camille tells HGTV.com. “Our home had a collected-over-time eclecticism, and it’s how I decorate my own home today. From the nearly century-old alabaster lamp to the tiny porcelain pup, each of the items on my guest room nightstand remind me of a happy antiquing expedition with my family.”

See More: 50 Flea Market Flips From HGTV Magazine

Embrace the Outdoors

Hello, turquoise! Camille’s back deck is one the happiest and brightest spaces in her home. “My backyard patio is my pups and my favorite ‘room’ during warm-weather months. My girls particularly like laying in the umbrella’s shade while I enjoy kicking back in cozy Adirondack chairs and enjoying an icy sip from my outdoor bar cart,” Camille says.

Dress It Up With Daffodils

“Daffodils aren’t my favorite flower, but they are undeniably cheerful,” says Rachel Barker, deputy photo director for HGTV Magazine. She cut some from her yard and put them in a colorful Jonathan Adler vase. Instant joy!

Frame Contemporary Photography

“In terms of collecting, photography is often far more accessible and has a lower price point than sculpture or paintings,” explains Felicia Feaster, managing editor for HGTV.com and TravelChannel.com. “Supporting local artists is really important to me and nothing makes me happier than looking at the small collection of images throughout my home. Large-scale contemporary photography looks especially sleek contrasted with vintage elements. It works well in my 1930s-era bungalow.”

Raid Your Grandparents' Bar Cart

Felicia did, and she found some witty and fun ‘40s and ‘50s era barware. “It gives me great pleasure to use the swizzle sticks, cocktail glasses and other barware I inherited from my wonderful grandparents,” she tells HGTV.com. “Every time I have a cocktail, I feel like I’m communing with them.” You can even arrange your favorite glasses in an extra-pretty display, like blogger A Beautiful Mess did here.

See More: 6 Creative Ways to Use Rainbow In Any Space

Show Off Your Family

In some supercute frames! “We have lots of family pictures hanging in our house — from photos of ancestors we never knew to photos of my kids,” says Molly Miller, assistant editor for HGTV.com. “I think hanging photos (or just meaningful art and prints!) is one of the easiest ways to really make a house feel like home. It’s nice to relive some of my favorite moments just with a glance at a picture on the wall.”

Add a Splash of Color

Paint is fun, but if you don’t feel like breaking out your brushes you can always add pops of color and character with accessories. “My house is decorated in neutral tones, but every room has its own unique splash of color,” says Kayla Kitts, managing editor, commerce, for HGTV.com. “For example, my son’s nursery features a white, gray and black palette. I mixed in bold, retro hues like mustard, teal and peach for that sweet dose of color. My favorite corner in his room is filled with vintage Disney Parks prints, happy pillows and some books and toys from my own childhood.”

Style Your Shelves

“The best feature of my entire house is a wall of floor-to-ceiling, built-in bookshelves,” Kayla says. “There’s not a lot of surface area in my home, so I use these shelves to house all my favorite things — my great grandmother’s broaches, keepsakes from my honeymoon, my favorite books and ready-to-grab board games. With 21 shelves to fill, there’s plenty of room for my stuff and my husband’s things, too.”

Bring In the Texture

Want to make your space extra cozy? “Texture, texture, texture,” says D2 Interieurs’ Denise Davies. “When using fabrics, have multiple sheens. Mix linens with velvets. Mix different materials — such as wood, metal, fabric, wall coverings and ceiling coverings — together to give the room the maximum interest.”

Remove Electronics

Denise also recommends nixing electronics. While this may not be possible in all rooms, an at-home retreat — sans televisions, phones or laptops — is the ultimate place to relax.

Embrace Your Inner Plant Mom

Jessica Yonker, editor for HGTV.com, certainly did! "I’ve gone minimalist by accident: All my furniture has been replaced by houseplants,” Jessica says. “My apartment gets enough natural light that I can grow a variety of them. Perhaps I’ve gone a little overboard, but they make me happy.” Bonus: Houseplants are good for you! They’re said to have various mental and physical health benefits. If you’re a renowned brown thumb, Jessica suggests starting with a Pothos plant for easy maintenance.

See More: Health Benefits of Houseplants

Pull Out Your Paints

Gabriela Noviello Eisenhart and Holly Conlan, founders of Wake + Loom, suggest sprucing a space up with paint — it’ll make for a fun little project, too! “Painting [your walls] is an easy way to create a fresh palette,” they say. “And we aren't afraid of rich dark hues in a room too. When we go with rich colors, we almost always jewel box the room and match the trim to the walls for more drama.”

Declutter Your Space

No matter how happy a home is, it’ll feel even happier when it’s neat and tidy. “You'll notice just by this little step the energy in your home will feel different,” Gabriela and Holly say.

DIY Cheerful Flower Arrangements

HGTV.com Editor Keri Sanders has a new hobby: arranging flowers. “I’ve learned it’s possible to make one $4 grocery bundle last for weeks,” she tells HGTV.com. “I fill several small vases with my grocery store flowers, then scavenge outside for interesting greenery to mix in. I’m finding beauty in things I’ve never noticed. Plus, I’m discovering interesting plants.”

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