If you’ve ever walked into a messy dark room versus a beautiful light-filled space, you know that your environment affects your mood. And after long days out and about, there’s nothing more you want than to come home and relax.
Luckily, a few considerations go a long way in curating a serene space. So, to take the stress out of the process, we called on interior designers to share their top tips for creating a calming corner of your home — whether you’re using it for meditation, lounging, or connecting with loved ones. Their advice spans the gamut from what colors to use to the best furnishings and more.
Assess the Palette
A natural place to start when creating a relaxing space is to consider the color scheme. “There is psychology to color,” says Dan Mazzarini, Principal and Creative Director at BHDM Design and ARCHIVE by Dan Mazzarini. Certain hues like red and yellow have higher ‘activation energy,’ eliciting stronger and more intense emotions, according to Mazzarini. So, it’s helpful to think about what you want your space to feel like — and implement colors with that effect. “For instance, blue in a space is both empowering and calming, white is a constant quieting neutral, and green’s biophilic emphasis puts people at ease,” Mazzarini says.
In general, Sarah Latham, principal at Latham Interiors, recommends steering away from more maximalist palettes. “Neutral and consistent colors tend to feel the most relaxing in a living space,” she says.
Set the Ambience
A relaxing space goes beyond just visuals — it’s about setting a mood and enticing all the senses. “Scents, sounds, and temperature also lend to relaxing in a space,” explains Latham. “These are critical elements and are used often in spas.”
Bringing nature into the home is another way that Mary Maydan, founder and principal of Maydan Architects, likes to create a relaxing atmosphere. “There is a Japanese practice of nature bathing called shinrin-yoku,” Maydan elaborates. “Nature bathing can be calming and relaxing for everyone. We love adding large windows in bathrooms and in some of our projects, we also have outdoor showers.”
Natural materials, aromatherapy, and the sounds of running water from fountains or decor also contribute to a holistically calming space, adds Latham.
When it comes to lighting, Latham recommends softer and warmer selections for the most serene results. “Stay with light fixtures that have 2,700 or 3,000k lighting temperature to achieve the best in relaxation and always have the controls on a dimmer,” she says.
It’s also effective to welcome natural light where possible. “Consider including large windows, skylights, and glass doors,” suggests Mark Bittoni, principal of Bittoni Architects. “This helps create a bright and open feeling, which can contribute to a more relaxed atmosphere.” Light-colored finishes and reflective surfaces can further bounce light around the room, allowing for balance throughout the space, Bittoni adds.
Looking for a more affordable option that doesn’t require structural changes? “Consider rearranging your room,” says Mazzarini. “Move your desk toward a window or re-orient a favorite reading chair into the sun, and don’t be afraid to uncover that outdoor furniture on a warm-enough day. Shuffle your interiors to take advantage of Mother Nature, and your spaces will help you right back.”
Choose the Right Pieces
Furnishings offer an opportunity to maximize comfort. “There is something cozy and nurturing about furniture that you sink into — something that wraps around you,” says Mazzarini. “Think cushiony chairs, hanging chairs, and extra fluffy pillows. All these things make one feel both supported and embraced.”
How cluttered or open a space is also affects mood — and can be solved with the right pieces. “Thoughtful layouts, high-quality finishes, and ample storage space can help create a calming and serene environment,” says Bittoni.
A relaxing space can’t just work off of aesthetics and design mantras — it also matters how you use the space. “It is so important to find an area in the home that is truly free from distractions,” Maydan elaborates. “The bathroom is great for that, which is probably why so many people are big on taking baths. For those who are not bath people, I recommend finding or creating a space somewhere else, be it a dedicated room or just a small cozy spot.”
Maydan also encourages carving out spaces in the house where you can pursue your hobbies or passions. “This could be a mini home studio for an artist, a gym for those who love to work out, or a media room to sit together and unwind at the end of the day,” she says. “A physical space can be a visual reminder to make time for your hobbies on a regular basis.”