Americans will shell out big bucks to renovate their homes this year. Home improvement spending could top $350 billion, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
If you’re among the homeowners who will be opening their wallets wide, you want to make sure your money is well spent. Of course, it’s necessary to consider renovations that will increase your property value. But if you plan on staying in your home rather than flipping it for a profit, your renovations should make your home a pleasant escape from the chaos of the outside world.
That doesn’t mean you have to shell out thousands to create a home spa. It’s simpler — and cheaper — than that. You can actually improve your mental health with the right floor plans and home design elements if you use these tips from an interior design expert on how to remodel your home to reduce stress and improve your well-being.
Get to Know Your Home Before Remodeling
If you bought a home knowing that you wanted to renovate it, you shouldn’t rush to make changes.
“Before committing to a space plan, I like to give myself a full season living somewhere to see what areas of the home I find myself using the most,” said Brian Patrick Flynn, an interior designer and host of HGTV Urban Oasis 2018 and HGTV Dream Home 2018.
In fact, Flynn said it took him three years to get his current home to the point where it makes him happy and calm because he needed to figure out how to best to use each space.
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Consider How Each Space in Your Home Affects Your Mood
If you want to create a floor plan that improves your mental health, identify what mood the various rooms and spaces in your house evoke.
“As an interior designer living with generalized anxiety disorder, I can definitely relate to the importance of a good space plan and its impact on reducing stress and chaos inside one’s home,” Flynn said. “Many times, it turns out the one room I was planning to use for formal entertaining ends up being my happy place where I prefer to kick off my shoes, put on pajamas and lie down for hours on end watching TV.”
Get the Flow Right
The current layout of your house might be creating stress because it doesn’t accommodate your lifestyle. Some areas might be like traffic jams because space is limited and everyone congregates there, while other rooms might be going unused.
For example, Flynn said he prefers the family room to be tucked to the side or back of the house rather than the front to offer more privacy. And he likes kitchens to have access to outdoor space for entertaining and dining.
“Once you get proper flow down, you’ll find yourself loving your home more and, in turn, really reducing stress once inside the home,” he said.
Invest in Windows and Doors
Windows and doors can be the most expensive elements of a remodel, Flynn said. It can cost $3,000 to $10,000 to replace all of the windows in a standard three-bedroom home, according to HomeAdvisor, a digital marketplace for home services. But installing large windows and glass doors can be money well spent.
“Keep in mind that being around pure, natural light is likely to make you just feel much, much better,” Flynn said. You might not even have to add windows or replace the ones you have. Bringing in more light might be as simple as replacing heavy draperies with blinds.
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Another way to boost your mood and bring more natural light into your home is to add skylights. Consider adding them in small spaces or hallways to prevent those spaces from feeling like caverns, Flynn said. He added that he is a fan of fresh-air skylights that can be opened and have integrated blinds to control the amount of light a space gets.
Get the Lighting Right
Although natural light can go a long way to improving your mood, also pay attention to how you install artificial light. For example, Flynn prefers to use odd-numbered groupings of pendant lights — preferably three or five — above kitchen islands or dining tables.
“It helps with proper balance,” he said.
Choose Color Carefully
It’s no secret that color can affect your mood. Cool colors such as blues, greens and grays can instill a sense of calm, while oranges, yellows and reds can make a space feel warm, welcoming and energizing, according to HGTV. When choosing colors for a room, consider what you want the mood of that room to be.
It might seem like a monochromatic, sterile environment would help reduce stress, but research has found that it has the opposite effect. Humans are actually more comfortable in spaces that replicate nature. A dark wood floor that looks like the ground, neutral walls that look like the plains and a ceiling that is light like the sky can help achieve a more natural look in a home.
Use Safe Building Materials
When renovating your home, be careful about the materials that you or your contractor use. For example, engineered wood can have formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Sealants and paints also can have VOCs. These toxic chemicals can affect your well-being, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Open Up the Kitchen
Homes with open-concept plans are all the rage. But if you can’t afford to open up most of your house, focus on spending money to create an open floor plan in your kitchen to benefit your well-being. More space will mean fewer traffic jams when meals are being prepared.
To keep a sense of calm in this busy room, Flynn recommended installing white countertops and backsplashes with simple, white cabinets. Other colors that can be used on cabinets include deep blues or earthy greens.
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Provide Privacy for Bedrooms
If you’re remodeling you’re entire home, consider moving bedrooms to the back of the house. Keeping bedrooms away from the main flow of traffic will help ensure privacy, Flynn said. And that will add to a sense of calm.
Rather than remodel your home entirely, you might be able to create a more private master bedroom by adding one on to the back of your home. An addition rather than a total overhaul can also save you money.
Add a Deck to the Master Bedroom
Make the master bedroom feel like a true retreat by adding a deck and French doors for easy access.
“Even in smaller master bedrooms, this makes the space feel much more open and airy, almost like having your own hotel suite away from all the main noise and activity of the house,” Flynn said.
Install a Soaking Tub
Upgrading a bathroom can help increase your home’s value and improve your mental health if you opt for the right features.
“Although most people prefer an oversized shower to a bathtub — myself included –I think it’s smart to have at least one bathroom in a house with a generously sized tub,” Flynn said. You can take long, relaxing baths in a large tub, which can work wonders for those suffering from anxiety, he added.
Add a Powder Room for Guests
If you have the space to add a small powder room near the front of your home, the payoff could be bigger than you expect.
“A small powder room near the main entrance of the house is great when entertaining guests and encouraging people to stick to one side of the property,” Flynn said. That will alleviate some stress knowing that guests aren’t wandering into your private spaces.
Keep Clutter at Bay
You might be feeling stressed if your home is cluttered. Keep that in mind as you remodel so you can incorporate ample spaces for organized storage into your house design plans. That might mean adding more cabinets in your kitchen or bathroom, more closet space or even a garage.
The key, though, is to avoid filling those spaces with stuff you don’t need. After remodeling, be selective about what you put in your new storage spaces and toss, donate or sell items you don’t need to keep.
Arrange Furniture Strategically
Once your renovations are complete, you might be in a rush to fill your rooms with furniture so you can start living in them again. You can arrange the furniture you already have, but you should live in the redesigned space for a couple of months to see if your furniture arrangement is working, and to decide whether you need to purchase any new furniture.
If you need more furnishings, splurge on items for rooms where you’ll spend most of your time rather than trying to outfit all the rooms in your house with new items.
“This will help you enjoy your home more,” Flynn said. Or you might find that you have more than you need and that by getting rid of some furniture, you can reduce clutter and stress in your home.
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