Creating a happy home space that's relaxing, warm, welcoming and packed with personality is no tall order. And yet happy homes all seem to have certain things in common. Here they are...
1. A pet
Doesn't matter if you're a cat person or a dog person, an animal about the house is proven to alleviate loneliness and depression, keep you fit and teach the kids valuable lessons about responsibility. It's important to have something else around that breathes just to give you a sense of your place in the world. They're cheap to run and generally a load of fun. And if you can't be doing with the messy paw prints, or the fur that's shed all over the cushions, get a fish.
2. Great storage
Stuff. It's the bane of everyone's life. It's nigh on impossible to live a relaxed happy life if every room has clutter piled up in the corner. Get it all sorted though and you can have a serene space that's easy on the eye, but without having to rid yourself of all your precious belongings. Hidden cupboards, clever shelving, well-organised lofts and properly planned kitchens ensure everything can have a place and everything can be in its place, massively cutting down on your stress.
Nothing wrong with furniture. Lampshades are lovely. Cushions can be cute. But every house needs something that grows to give it a sense of life. And we're not talking about a dusty spider plant to neglect. Fresh flowers can do it. Or a banana palm. Hey, you can even fake it if you lack the green thumb, but something organic will always make a space feel a bit more alive and, without wanting to get all scientific on you, real plants make the atmosphere that little bit purer. Like pets, they're alive. And they breathe.
4. A squishy sofa
This is your home, not a doctor's waiting room. So forget all that high-end, sharp angled seating. It may look swish in the showroom but homes are for downtime, putting feet up, recharging batteries. A warm squishy number quite literally gives you a cuddle at the end of a hard day. Chose white or cream by all means (provided you're not a red wine drinker, or prone to klutziness), but stint on the all-important squish factor and a quiet night with your feet up can all too easily turn into a stiff day at the office.
5. A great bed
Nothing beats a good night's sleep. Invest in quality mattress, bed linen that's as luxe as you can afford, and you'll wake up raring to take on all comers.
6. A statement piece
Whether it's an enormous piece of art, a giant vase, a clever holiday find or a designer chair you've saved up for, one brilliant piece will get itself noticed. Statement pieces provide great conversation starters, add personality and give a room an all-important focal point.
7. Something that makes you smile
We know, we know, your dream is to have somewhere that would grace the pages of a glossy magazine. Somewhere so Penelope Perfect that every cushion is symmetrically arranged, every piece of furniture cleverly sourced, and the whole scheme creates a beautiful picture. But frankly, who wants to live like that? It's the quirky, unexpected thing that throw things off kilter that give a space true personality. Toss something wacky into your mix and you're guaranteed a home that's warm and welcoming.
8. Personal collections
It's your home, right? And you've got a family. That means they bring their art home from school. You have snaps that remind you of happy holidays. You had a great wedding that you don't want to forget. Your baby takes a particularly good photo. You have a life long passion for kitsch, or a ceramics collection you don't want to part with. Newsflash, that's what gives your home its heart! Make design feature of all those little reminders of the things you love, that are special to you, and they'll instantly make your home that little bit more special too. After all, who wants to live in a museum?