January is a famously miserable month, but this year's cost of living strains and a sub-zero cold spell has made it feel worse than most. At Ideal Home, determined not to be defeated by the winter blues, we've rounded up our favourite ways to give our bedroom, kitchen and living room ideas a mood-boosting makeover with the help of a few experts.
Our homes are crucial to our happiness, research by The Happiness Research Institute in 2019 revealed that our homes account for 15% of our total happiness. To put that into perspective, general health and fitness accounted for 14%, earnings 6% and employment just 3%. The report also found that 73% of people who are happy with their homes are happy in life.
However, a report by IKEA this year on global home habits revealed that worryingly only half of us say we experience enjoyment where we live. Also, four in five people said that they were regularly frustrated by everyday irritants like mess, chores and clutter around the house.
21 ways to give your home a mood-boosting makeover
Striving for a happy home can often feel like climbing a greasy pole when trying to keep on top of chores, busy family schedules and January resolutions. But sometimes all you need are a few little wins to help brighten your day.
From decluttering, and decorating to ensuring a great night's sleep, here are our top expert tips to boost your mood at home and hopefully put that bounce back in your step.
1. Create headspace with a good tidy
The powers of decluttering go far beyond being able to finally close your wardrobe door. According to professional organiser and author Marie Kondo, it is key to destressing and stimulating creativity.
'I think tidying helps, because it helps you to clear your head, to calm yourself, and then when you start in that kind of space, it’s easier to find inspiration and come up with ideas,' she explains. 'Because creativity comes from inside, I think just the simple act of having homes for things, so knowing where to put things away, so these scissors belong here, it simplifies your actions so you have more space to think.'
2. Use January as 'get organised' month
Getting your life in order in January is a cliche for a reason. The start of the year after the merriment of the Christmas holidays is a great time to reset and restore order to the house.
Ideal Home Editor-in-Chief, Heather Young commandeers a wall in the kitchen to get her household in order. 'I use a section of wall space in the kitchen for a family command centre, with our calendar, weekly meal plan, shopping list, school timetables, chores list so that everything's in one place,' she explains. 'Feeling more in control reduces my anxiety levels to make me feel calmer. It's like a mental reset!'
3. Make a little money from unwanted items
If money concerns are getting you down this month, we're not saying a declutter can cure them, but it can help you make a little extra cash through sites such as Vinted, eBay and Depop.
'I have been doing a huge declutter in my flat and am in the process of taking clothes to my local charity shops and selling them on Vinted, shredding all my old paperwork, and reorganising my kitchen cupboards and bathroom cabinet, which has felt very therapeutic,' says Ideal Home Social Media Product Gabrielle Albert.
'Whilst decluttering, I've also recycled some of my old cosmetics in return for a discount on new beauty purchases (John Lewis do this) which feels like a nice treat if you're watching the pennies this month.'
4. Keep your bedroom a sanctuary from clutter
We all know a bad night's sleep can ruin our mood, so don't let a cluttered bedroom floor ruin your sleep. 'One of my most important tips is to keep the bedroom a calm and clutter-free environment, and one of the simplest ways to achieve this is with easy-to-reach under-bed storage,' says Dr Ranj, Sleep & Wellness Ambassador at Furniture Village.
'Having this dedicated space to store clothes, keepsakes and extra bedding mean these items won't spill out into the rest of the bedroom. A physical space that’s neat and tidy will also subconsciously help soothe psychological clutter and make room for space to relax and unwind before you drift off.'
If you don't have space under your bed there are plenty of other smart bedroom storage ideas to help keep clutter out of the way while you nod off.
5. Clean up before going to bed
'Starting your day on a cold and dark January morning is hard enough, but coming into a dirty kitchen makes it even worse,' says Heather Young at Ideal Home. 'I'm being really strict with myself about making sure the washing up is done, and the kitchen is clean and tidy before I go to bed to make the morning routine a little less painful!'
If you're struggling to keep your home clean consider adopting the 5 or 15-minute cleaning method. The method favoured by cleaning experts such as Lindsey Crombie and Marla Cilley, a.k.a. the FlyLady breaks claims to make cleaning chores easier by breaking them down into daily 15-minute increments. Simply choose a room, create a list of cleaning tasks, set a timer and get to work.
6. Boost serotonin with yellow paint
'Bring a little joy into your home with an effervescent splash of yellow - the most joyful dollop of sunshine will always lift the spirits,' suggests Patrick O'Donnell, International Brand Ambassador for Farrow and Ball.
The reason yellow is classed as a happy colour is that it helps release Serotonin in the brain. If you're tempted to boost your mood a little yellow a small paint idea using a tester pot can be enough to cheer up your home. 'How far you commit is wholly up to you. The interior of a window reveal in your kitchen or a refresh of your kitchen cabinetry... the hope of spring around the corner will be firmly established!' says Patrick.
7. Relax with green decor
'Create calming spaces with the gentlest of mid greens - a perfect palette for bedrooms and living rooms- making the ideal relaxing environment to binge on your favourite box set or devour your latest piece of fiction,' recommends Patrick O'Donnell for Farrow and Ball.
8. Refresh a gallery wall with personal photos
'If you've got a gallery wall - give it a refresh by swapping in some new pictures, or adding more to it. If you don't have a gallery wall - make one!' recommends Ideal Home Editor Heather Young.
'Surround yourself with images that you love is a surefire way to make you feel happier, plus going through photos from the previous year to pick your favourites to go on display definitely has the feelgood factor.'
In fact, research carried out by CEWEfound that looking through photos made 56 per cent of people feel happy and 30 per cent relaxed.
9. Host a dinner party
So what if we can't afford to eat out this year? After two years of perfecting cocktail recipes and making sourdough in our homes now is the time to put them to the guest test.
Iron the tablecloth and pick up some extra plates from the local charity shop as entertaining at home is set to be a big home decor trend this year. If ever there was a time to invest in your kitchen ideas, it is now. Sarah O'Sullivan, Partner & Home Product Designer at John Lewis told Ideal Home that they've seen sales of dining tables, benches, dining chairs and tableware sets all on the rise. Pinterest has also seen a 25 % increase in searches for 'dining tables'.
10. Create a kitchen disco
Sophie Ellis-Bextor was onto something when she invited the world to join her kitchen discos on Instagram during Lockdown. A kitchen disco has long been a favourite mood-boosting tip of our Editor, Heather Young.
'Nothing cheers me up like turning the music up full volume for a kitchen disco,' says Heather. 'It's long been a family favourite in our house, which is why we have a disco ball in the centre of the room! Ours is wired in so I can turn the motor on to make it spin from a wall switch, but we had it on a battery-powered motor in our old kitchen.'
11. Dispel gloomy days with candles
Morning, afternoon, and evening, it doesn't take much to make us light a beautifully scented candle. But January offers the perfect excuse to crack out your favourite candle and a few tapers while you're at it.
'Use the gloom and dark evenings as an excuse to light more candles,' recommends Ideal Home Home Decor Editor Amy Lockwood. 'The flickering flames and soft glow add a warmth and aliveness that electric lighting lacks.'
'Light dinner candles at meal times to make them feel more like an occasion, and at breakfast or while you drink your morning coffee if you get up before the sun – little joyful rituals can make a big difference in a month that can feel like a long hard slog.'
12. Switch off the main light
Lighting can have a powerful impact on our mood, an easy way to boost yours and create a relaxed atmosphere is to flick off the big light. Instead, adopt the Scandi trick of using lighting at eye height to create a cosy atmosphere.
'I've gone for wall lights on a dimmer switch as part of my new kitchen lighting ideas, and I've jumped on the trend for popping a table lamp on the worktop to create a warm pool of light, rather than having the harsh spotlights on,' says Ideal Home Editor Heather Young.
13. Switch out your lightbulbs
If you don't have an alternative to the big light, consider switching out the light bulb for a warmer look.
'Think about the colour temperature of your bulbs: The colour temperature of light bulbs is measured in kelvins (K) on a scale from 1,000 to 10,000, with lower numbers being warmer in tone and higher numbers cooler,' says Hanna Walter, Product & Creative Manager, Heathfield & Co. 'In general, warm bulbs are a safe bet for the home and usually the most popular – so look for Kelvin ratings around 2,700K.'
Alternatively, if you have £12 to spare consider opting for a Phillip Hue smart light bulb which can mimic sunrise in the morning and sunset, help you feel calm and the start and end of the day.
14. Move your desk to a window
The best place for a desk to improve your mood and help you to focus. 'If you can, place your desk or workspace by an open window so that you have direct access to natural light,' recommends, Ash Read, an interior expert at Living Cozy
'Enjoying natural light or sunlight while you work has been proven to boost serotonin levels, which will contribute to a lift in your mood when working in a dark and gloomy environment.'
15. Invest in a new rug
'You may not think of a carpet or rug as a tool to benefit mental well-being but the positive effects of feeling a luxurious pile underfoot have been measured by researchers,' says Daniel Prendergast, interiors expert from The Rug Seller. 'The study by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information found that walking on carpet triggers fewer stress simulators than walking on a hard floor.'
Carpets can be expensive but brands such as Dunelm have thick shaggy rugs starting at £13.30 for a small size.
'For the ultimate in cosiness, choose a tactile thick pile rug like a shaggy style or faux fur rug. Knitted rugs are also extremely popular and will give you that mood-boosting feel of a cosy, knitted jumper,' recommends Daniel.
16. Rearrange the furniture
If you're finding bits of furniture are getting in the way of the flow of your house, now could be the time to consider some quick living room layout fixes to make you happier or your bedroom layout.
Poorly placed furniture can create feelings of inconvenience, frustration, and anxiety. You don't need to become a Feng Shui master to transform the layout. Rearranging your furniture can be a great way to revamp your home without the cost and help make your house more functional.
17. Scatter houseplants around
Studies have proven that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity, reduce stress levels and boost your mood. That is a lot of power in a humble house plant idea, and hopefully, a bit of incentive to keep on top of your house plant watering schedule.
'If you’re just beginning your houseplant journey, consider starting off with smaller plants and low-maintenance Succulents and use them to bring different areas of your home to life,' says Dobbies Senior Houseplant Buyer Claire Bishop. 'Shelves and compact spaces can be upgraded with trailing plants, which are both cost-effective and striking, giving you maximum impact for less.'
18. Make space for flowers
Wondered why a bunch of tulips or daffodils always brings a smile to your face? It's because they trigger happy brain chemicals like dopamine to be released.
'Studies have found how just looking at cut flowers for short periods of time can boost feelings of relaxation and cheerfulness,' says Jade Robertson, floral designer at leading delivery service Prestige Flowers. 'If you only have 60 seconds to spare, spend it arranging a bouquet of colourful flowers such as yellow roses.'
Alternatively, Millie Fender Reviews Editor at Ideal Home recommends stocking up on the £1 bunches of daffodils, which have just come into season, as a budget hack for adoring your home in flowers.
19. Invest in an electric blanket
No one likes getting into a cold bed in winter, so an electric blanket is a January must-have to take the chill off the sheets before you get in. This affordable option from Silentnight is one of our tried and tested best buys,' says Ideal Home Home Decor Editor Amy Lockwood.
'Plus, with the cost of running an electric blanket coming in at under 5p per hour, it could well be a sound financial investment that will help you save energy and money this January whilst staying warm.'
Ideal Home Deputy Print Editor, Ginevra Benedetti's top tip is to pair an electric blanket with a smart plug. 'So that when you're downstairs on the sofa in the evening, a few taps in your smartphone will ensure you have a cosy, toasty bed to crawl into when it's bedtime!'
20. Swap to brushed cotton bedding
A cosy bed is where a good mood starts so make sure yours is primed and ready with the best bedding. Ideal Home's Editors all swear by swapping out cotton bed linen for brushed cotton bedding in winter.
'The minute the temperature drops I swap out my summer cotton bed linen for a brushed cotton option like from the Secret Linen store,' says Amy Lockwood. 'The soft, textured fabric takes any chill off the sheets, making getting into bed in the depths of a cold January a much warmer and more inviting affair.'
If you can afford it, it might be worth upgrading your duvet too. It's certainly not cheap, but Floks duvet available at John Lewis filled with British wool feels luxurious, and will keep you super cosy.
21. Start a new upcycling project
If you're still stuck for ways to improve your mood at home, getting stuck into a hobby such as upcycling or an easy DIY project could be the ticket.
'This time of year can feel very go-go-go, so taking any opportunity to stop and catch your breath should be seized,' says Catharina Scandi lifestyle expert at Contura. 'Hobbies create a space where you can focus the mind and allow yourself to slow down by doing an activity that simultaneously brings you joy.'
'Remember, hobbies aren’t about being the best or maxing out your productivity – the goal is purely to channel your creativity, unwind and enjoy the moment.'
And if all else fails it's only 21 weeks until summer...
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Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.
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