Even if it’s just a bud vase with a single flower or a scented candle, filling your home with things you love will improve your outlook.

You’d be surprised what a lovely room can do for one’s mood. If your bedroom is comfortable and decorated with things you love, you’ll inevitably feel more at ease and probably even sleep better. If, from your desk, you can glance upon an inspirational photograph or a vase of flowers, you’ll most likely get more work done.

“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”― Franz Kafka

Embellish your Environment

(Roy Lichtenstein’s 1991 Pop Art painting, “Interior with Waterlilies”)
  • Tennessee Williams said, “A bedroom is just as nice as whoever sleeps in it with you.” This is undeniably true, but that doesn’t mean that some clean sheets, a fluffy duvet, soft pillows, and a vase of flowers are uncalled for. There are lots of little, inexpensive things you can do to turn your surroundings into a personal paradise.
  • First off, I cannot stress fresh flowers and potted plants enough. Any living thing is good Feng Shui and will immediately improve the look and feel of a space.
  • Good, natural light is optimal, but we all know that many homes (especially New York City apartments) leave a lot to be desired when it comes to lighting. End tables with softly glowing lamps are ideal for dark spaces. Skip the tacky fluorescent lighting (unless you live in a hospital) and keep the room golden with sconces, candles, and pretty lamps (always hide a naked light bulb).
  • A fresh coat of paint is something that is easy and fun! It’s like a facelift for your home. If you’re feeling really creative, try a bright, festive accent wall.
  • Running water is always wonderful; it’s so tranquil and zen. A small tabletop fountain is a lovely accent to any space and immediately adds a touch of the exotic.

“All I ever did to that apartment was hang fifty yards of yellow theatrical silk across the bedroom windows, because I had some idea that the gold light would make me feel better, but I did not bother to weight the curtains correctly and all that summer the long panels of transparent golden silk would blow out the windows and get tangled and drenched in afternoon thunderstorms. That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and ever procrastination, every word, all of it.”

–Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem (from her essay “Goodbye to All That,” 1967)

  • Hang curtains: Window dressing really makes a difference!

    (Sigmund Freud’s study at the Freud Museum London)
  • Throw pillows and blankets can turn a lonely sofa into a cozy retreat.
  • Stacks of books always make a room more inviting.
  • Create the illusion of space with mirrors. Have you ever noticed that the Parisians use this trick constantly for tiny spaces?

Surround Yourself with Favorites

(Photography by Audrey Flack)
  • Small trinkets such as antique ashtrays (even for non-smokers), jewelry boxes, family photos in lovely frames, candle holders, reed diffusers, and other gewgaws are fantastic examples of personal effects to have in one’s home.
  • Let your vanity table speak for itself: with tubes of lipstick, pots of cream, bottles of perfume, hair pins and combs, a woman’s dressing table reveals all sorts of secrets and is a private sanctuary for getting ready.
  • Prints of favorite works of art are always inspirational, even if it’s just a postcard.
  • Light your favorite scented candle to fill your space with fragrance.
  • Bowls of fresh fruit are lovely to look at and make for a healthy, quick snack.

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