Interiors for Wellbeing: Transition to spring
As we anticipate the arrival of spring there’s a natural tendency to want to burst into action, to throw ourselves into the excitement of new beginnings. This could be even more likely this year, as the pandemic begins to loosen its grip on our lives. Hope is rising with the sap in the trees and the daily updates on vaccinations.
But spring can also be the season of anxiety. Nobody knows exactly why, but many of us suffer a lowering of our mood in the spring months, and the effect could be magnified this year as many of us are staging our re-entry into social life. If you’re an extreme extrovert this might be filling you with glee but don’t feel bad if the thought of all this brings about a curious mixture of both relief and apprehension.
Your home can help to support you through this period of adjustment. There are a range of ways – both big budget and small – in which you can develop and style your home so that it increases your connection with the outside world. This in turn will help to boost your wellbeing and ensure that you feel supported as you venture out again.
Begin to shift your energy:
Winter can leave us feeling stale, heavy and lacking in energy. If we’re going to embrace the new opportunities that spring offers, it’s important to recognise that we’re coming out of a kind of hibernation, this year especially. Here are some ideas for gently raising your energy levels in your home.
- Open your windows: when you let fresh air in, not only are you cleansing the heavily polluted indoor airspace, but you’re allowing the breeze and the daily rhythms of the natural world to stir within your home.
- Think about what you can shed and let go: now’s a great time to begin a gentle declutter. Getting rid of possessions that you don’t need or value anymore can enable you to be more productive, feel a little calmer, and help to refocus your priorities for the months ahead.
- Reassess how you are going to live now that social restrictions are beginning to change. Does the current layout and flow of each room and your home as a whole still work? Sometimes making a small change to the furniture layout is enough to facilitate a big change in how you use a space. Or perhaps it’s time to plan a bigger renovation project.
Soften the boundaries with the outside world
It’s natural that we’ve come to see our dwellings both as places of safety and as prisons over the last 12 months. Our homes can create a hard boundary between us and the world. It can make venturing out a bit less intimidating if we blur this division and see our living spaces as connecting us to life beyond the home. Here are some ways to create a smoother gradient between inside and out.
- Focus on transitional spaces in spring – those areas that mark a threshold with the outside world: doorways and hallways, balconies, and the transition to the garden. These areas often get quite knocked about and sprucing them up will make coming in and out of your home a more pleasurable experience.
- Extend your living space into the garden by creating outside seating areas. Pergolas and enclosed garden seats create a half-way point between inside and outside. You can also place a few chairs or a bench just outside an entryway to start to metaphorically push the walls outwards. Outdoor rugs and cushions will soften these areas and create an inside/outside feel.
- Place a houseplant or a jug of greenery just inside a doorway to create a sense of connection to the natural world outside. Incorporating natural images and motifs through wallpaper, pictures and other décor can also help.
- If you’re thinking about a more significant renovation project, introducing bigger windows and more glass can really help to bring the outside in. Oriel windows, glass dividing walls and floor to ceiling windows will all maximise your exposure to natural light and increase your connection to any surrounding green space.
Create comforting, secure spaces
It really helps us to feel confident and excited about being out in the world if we can retreat to a cosy corner when we need to recharge and reset. The days may be getting warmer and lighter but we still need to be able to find solace at home. Here are some things you can try.
- Move some of the blankets which you’ve been curling up in over winter nearer to your outside spaces: gardens, balconies and doorways. In spring they are the vital props which will enable you to tentatively spend more and more time outdoors. Try having a basket of throws and floor cushions near your back door so that you can take advantage of a sudden burst of spring sunshine.
- Create refuge-like spaces where you can sit comfortably and take advantage of any views of the garden or even the urban world outside. We know from research that as humans we feel calmer and more relaxed when we are able to survey the world around us from a slightly enclosed or raised vantage point: think window seats, verandas and banquette seating nooks.
- Establish and design a place in your home where you can go when you need time to reconnect with yourself: somewhere away from where you work, and where you can shut everyone else out. A comfy armchair in the corner of your bedroom can work well, but you could also focus on turning your bathroom into a restorative haven.
Spring is a great humbler: we rush out as the sun reappears, but also get bitten by the cold that still lingers. Remember that your home is a bridge between you and the world, and it can be your buffer as you slowly unfurl and reintegrate.
Ideas, interiors and written word: Becky Hirt
Wallpaper designs, illustrations and images: Elizabeth Ockford