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Top Tips for Creating a Calming Space

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season filled with your favorite people, foods, and traditions!

It’s all about creating calm spaces in this, my first post of 2015 — which is ironic, given that there are very few calm spaces in my home right now, thanks to this little troublemaker angel.

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We got Maggie, an English Springer Spaniel puppy, exactly one week before Christmas, and just a few days before we had family arriving to visit for the holiday. With the addition of Maggie, our little family now includes two kids, two cats, and one seriously puppy-ish puppy. So yeah, a little calm is definitely in order around here!

Today I’ll be sharing some of the tricks and tips I’ve learned while trying to bring a little Zen to our home.

Declutter, Declutter, Declutter

As much as I love decorating for Christmas, I am ready for it all to come down on December 26. (I know that the 12 days of Christmas don’t actually start until December 25, but when you have three animals trying to deconstruct your trees from the inside, well … .) I wake up on the morning after Christmas ready to pack all the decorations away and reclaim my space! Even though I’m not the most organized person in the world, there’s just something about clearing out the extra “stuff,” festive though it may be, that helps me settle down mentally and emotionally after the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

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Clutter is the enemy of calm. A simple “why didn’t I think of that?” way to bring a little Zen to your home is to spend some time cutting the clutter:

  • De-junk the junk drawer.
  • Clear tabletops, countertops, and desktops of any items that just don’t belong (old papers, items you’ve accumulated that really belong elsewhere but that you just haven’t gotten around to putting away, etc.).
  • Stand by the trash can/recycle bin every day as you sort through your mail — toss anything you don’t need right away, rather than letting it pile up somewhere.
  • Spend five or 10 minutes every evening putting things back in order before you go to bed. Even if you can’t get it all done before bed, the less mess you see when you wake up, the less stress you’ll feel at the start of your day! Waking up to clothes or toys on the floor or dishes all over the kitchen counter can leave you feeling overwhelmed before you’ve even had your first cup of coffee.

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Choose a Calming Color Scheme

Color is transformative. It’s always amazing to me, when I look at room makeovers, what a difference the right paint, upholstery, or accent colors can have on the overall “feel” of a room.

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Coastal colors are hands-down my favorite color scheme. (I don’t mean Key West coastal, by the way. Kim Wilson of Sand and Sisal has a great post on what “coastal decorating” is and is not.) Soft, subtle shades of blues, greens, sands, and grays have an incredibly soothing effect on me, and judging by their popularity right now, I guess I’m not the only one!

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If you have a space that you just can’t relax in, even without the clutter, consider painting it with a muted coastal color. They’re versatile neutrals, so you should be able to find one that works perfectly with your existing furniture and décor.

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When we moved into our house, the main arteries of our house — the long hallways upstairs and downstairs that connect every room on each floor — were painted a weird pink color. (It wasn’t pretty.) I opted to repaint them with Benjamin Moore’s Sea Salt, a sophisticated green/blue/gray mix that easily segues into every room in the house. I couldn’t be more pleased with my choice!

Just the Right Background Noise

I’ve been working from my kitchen table lately because we have a new puppy and the kitchen floors are hardwood, whereas my craft room/office is carpeted. I love being in our kitchen anyway, but what’s made my work time in here really pleasant is the sound of our cats’ drinking fountain, believe it or not! I never really gave it any thought before, because the kitchen is usually filled with lots of other sounds. But sitting here at the table, typing away on my laptop, with the sound of the gently bubbling fountain in the background is really kind of relaxing and gives me a new appreciation for our kitchen.

No wonder, then, that so many spas make use of fountains in their treatment and relaxation rooms. Adding a water feature in your bedroom, living room, or bathroom is a great way to inject just the right kind of soothing background noise. Find a tabletop fountain that you love, or make your own!

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When All Else Fails, Take a Bath

If you’re a hoarder like me, decluttering can be a daylong project. Painting a room isn’t an instant fix, nor is making a water fountain. But retreating to a nice warm bubble bath is a sure-fire way to instantly de-stress!

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While you’re waiting for the tub to fill up:

  • Light a few aromatherapy candles.
  • Put on some soothing background music. Pandora has a great spa station that you can listen to for free!
  • Lower the lights, if you can. (Turn on a vanity light but turn off the overhead light, for example.)

When you have a little more time, make your bathroom more like a spa retreat by:

  • Transferring your bath products into apothecary jars or other glass containers. Busy product labels and mismatched bottle sizes and styles create a lot of visual clutter. Go one step further by corralling your product jars on a pretty silver tray or in a rattan basket.

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  • Clear acrylic vanity organizers, like these from Tuesday Morning, are another way to control the chaos on your vanity. The clear acrylic keeps the look clean and streamlined.

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  • Invest in a set of fluffy, white towels. Save them for your personal spa days at home or just keep them on display — but there’s a reason luxury hotels and spas only use white towels! They just look relaxing. (Psst: Peacock Alley has some of the best quality towels on the market, and Tuesday Morning stocks Peacock Alley discontinued styles at amazing prices!) Roll the towels and display in a big wicker basket or on a decorative shelf.

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  • Make your own spa bath products. You can customize the scents by choosing your favorite essential oils, it can be more cost-effective, and you’ll know exactly what’s going on your skin! There are so many recipes for homemade bath salts, sugar scrubs, and body butters to be found online; and during the winter, our skin needs all the TLC we can give it. I love the tutorials and recipes on Lia Griffith’s blog, and she even offers free printables for pretty apothecary-style labels, so your creations will look clean and coordinated on your bathroom vanity!

I finally managed to finish this post — a little late — after my sweet husband took Maggie the puppy and our son out of the house so I could have a calmer place to write! Believe me, I’ll be putting these tips into action as soon as I can! I hope you’ve gotten a couple of ideas to help bring a little Zen to your own home. Be sure to check out Tuesday Morning’s Get Zen! Pinterest board for even more ideas.

One More Thing

If you could corner a top-notch interior designer and ask him or her your most burning design question, what would it be? Do you have a tricky space that you can’t figure out what to do with? Are you great with “big picture” decorating but need help filling in the little details? (That’s my problem!) Are you wondering about the different types of rugs and which ones work best in which spaces?

We’re starting a new home décor feature next month and want to hear what you really want to know! Ask your question in the comments below, and our favorite interior design blogger will be answering some of the top questions in an upcoming blog post. So let’s hear it!



Bath and Body, Bed, Home Decor
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Anna Dineen

Meet the Contributor

My home Tuesday Morning location: Hillside Village Shopping Center in Dallas, Texas

My favorite Tuesday Morning department: Do I have to choose just one? Craft section and seasonal accents.

A little about me: I’m the gal who always has a project (or two or three!) going on, whether it’s crafting for fun, DIY home decor or even a little remodeling. I do everything but cook! I’m obsessed with great design, old houses, fabulous wallpaper, sushi and hoarding craft supplies — not necessarily in that order.

What I love to write about: I love sharing my favorite craft and home décor ideas on the Tuesday Morning blog … it doesn’t matter what kind of project I’m working on, I know I can find the perfect thing for it at my home Tuesday Morning!

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  1. Reply Mary M Dare

    walls in living room are white, rugs brown & beige, other furniture tan..I’ve been offered a lovely white recliner. would it stick out too much, do you thnk?

  2. Reply debbie

    can you paint over paneling if yes how

    • Reply JUDY

      Debbie, yes you can! I’ve done it 2x already – depending on the condition of your paneling and the color, fill in any holes from nails/pictures, etc. Use a good primer and paint away. It makes a huge difference ! I’ve painted over old dark paneling – going light (took primer) and have painted a light blue/grey paneling an off white… really freshened the room and give it a coastal feel. It was worth the effort – Good luck!

  3. Reply Margarita

    I love your posts!! Please include names of more paint colors like the bathroom color !!!

    I love Tuesday morning !!! Love that they carry Peacock Alley at great price !!


  4. Reply Margarita

    I have a red sofa n I want to create a new look in the family room . New chairs, area rugs and drapes.

    What colors do you suggest I go with ???

    I have heard navy, creme , aqua . I heard it all .

    I know red is bold but I want the space to feel relaxing not too much color n bold !!!

    Thanks. Mk.

  5. Reply Denise harris

    What are your suggestions for re modeling a teeny tiny “master” bathroom. In a house built in 1958 where the entire area is probably 6×8 with shower, sink, toilet, and closet?

  6. Reply Maellen

    Honestly, the hardest things for me to decorate are my table and shelf tops. I have a hard time making side tables, my entry table, bookshelves and the mantle top look nice. I’d love advice on that!

  7. Reply Dale

    I have lots of decor items but don’t know where to place them for best effect. How can I achieve that decorator look? Eclectic tastes, earth tones + burgundy.

  8. Reply Virginia rue

    Loved reading your ideas. I am always trying to organize so that I am able to find what i need

  9. Reply Desiree

    I have a large tan sectional. It seems to have some green and gold undertones. It looks heavy and dark in my living room. I’m looking for a way to lighten it up and possibly go with a vintage glam style. Is this possible with the couch that I have?