Prioritising joy in your home

Small changes to create a calmer home 

I’m one of those people that finds daily life quite overwhelming, which stems from being a naturally empathetic person in addition to anxiety. Through trial and (oh so many) errors, I have found ways to remain calm most of the time. It’s been a process of accepting limitations, out of the box thinking and learning to be gentle with myself.
One of my favourite changes still, is adjusting my home to suit the lifestyle I want rather than trying to work around the “normal” layout. I live in a not very glamorous two bedroom house with my two boys. I work at home and I home educate so having a calm space is especially important as the opportunities to escape, are much less frequent! Something I’m sure everyone can relate to at the moment. 
The “normal” way to set the downstairs up in houses like this one is: sofas pointed at a TV with maybe a table squeezed in to the larger reception room, and the little side room would have the children’s toys in so it can be closed off at the end of the day. When I considered how we wanted to allocate our time, the majority of it would be spent at the dining table. Eating together, drawing, writing, learning and talking. The focal point of our room I decided, was going to be the dining table. Colouring pencils, paper and educational resources needed to be readily available and it needed natural light. The children’s toys and books then also went into the big room so I could still chat to them whilst cooking dinner. The little room by default, became a snug and the TV banished to it. This works on a number of levels; the TV gets used less, when it is used, it’s a cosy room and in the evenings, I have a simple, toy free space to relax in.
Once I moved everything, you could tell straight away that something had shifted. The house flowed better, we flowed better. A new level of calm was unlocked. I’ve continued to evaluate and made adjustments every so often. The colouring pencils and craft box got closer to table so it would come out more, I’ve added cushions, blankets, lamps and fairly lights in the snug to encourage us to snuggle up with books in there during the dark winter days. I feel at peace as soon as I walk in through the front door which is no small thing when you have anxiety.

Colouring in at dining table
I’ve written some simple steps for you to try this at home yourself:-
  • Work out which piece of furniture you WANT to be most central to your life. It’s important to think about what your want rather than what you currently do as that is likely to be heavily influenced by the past and this is about the future. 
  • Decide where is the best location to get the most use out of it. Would you use it more if it was closer to the front door or the kitchen, if it had more or less natural light?
  • Next, optimise that space for what you WANT it to be used for. For example if your focus is a cosy space for sitting by the fire at the end of the day, what would make that experience perfect? Do you read in the evenings, so could your bookshelf be closer? Do you listen to music? Think about where your speakers are set up.
  • The above steps may have already decided where all of your furniture is going/will now have to go to fit in but if not, you can pick the second most central item and follow the same process. 

Hopefully, quite quickly there will be a noticeable shift in how your spend your time within your home, towards the little things that bring you most joy. 
Let me know how you get on. 


  • What a lovely family home x

  • Hello Hermione,
    I love what you wrote, very interesting. Could you post more photos of your house please, I would love to see your snug and kitchen? Love your illustrations too, you are very talented. Xx

    Sally-Ann Shaw

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