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10 Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Peaceful

Including how to forget about your phone—at least during dinnertime.

Photograph by Helen Norman
Photograph by Helen Norman

1. Think of the place you love most

It’s a simple idea: Think of where you’re happiest, and bring elements of that place into your home. In the case of this serene Clarksburg house that Lauren Liess designed for a family of four, the starting point was “on the water.”

“That’s where the inspiration came from—they love to travel, and they love adventure,” says Liess. “The couple spent a year on a boat when they were younger.”

The designer worked within a palette of soothing green, blue, and ivory. Though softer colors such as these are often associated with peaceful environments, Liess advises clients to use whatever hues they love most: “It’s just how you put it together. So I always include natural elements to ground whatever color palette is going on.”

In the Clarksburg house, Liess layered on the natural materials—sisal rugs, linen upholstery, plants throughout. “And then just some really great woods with different finishes. That was key in all of the spaces.”

At the moment, the designer is getting her own crash course in figuring out how to find sanctuary at home. She and her husband, David, welcomed their fifth child in August. As if a new baby weren’t enough, HGTV just ordered a full season of a renovation show starring the couple. In Best House on the Block—which starts production in March—the Liesses will help Washington homeowners transform their spaces.

Amid her crazy schedule, Liess says, “When I can get time with the family, that’s my happy place. Food, a glass of wine, my kids and my husband, having music on. When that’s happening, I feel like I have it together.”

2. Build in some calm

Life is hectic, but don’t forget to carve out small moments for reflection. Even better if you can do it over a hot cup of tea. Staub cast-iron teakettle, $170 at Williams Sonoma.

3. Get extra-cozy

A luxurious throw makes just about any spot more comforting, whether you’re relaxing on the couch or need an extra layer while working at the dining-room table. Mohair throw, $195 at

 4. Add some green

One way to put a little joy into your home?

Bring some of the outside in. We asked Holley Simmons—owner of the DC terriarium-making business Sill Life, an interior landscaper, and an all-around plant guru—how to get started.

• Why should stressed-out Washingtonians add plants to their homes?

As a plant parent, nothing compares when you see a little bud or signs of a new leaf. It’s so rewarding to tend to plants and, if you choose the right ones, not at all overwhelming.

• What are your favorite plants for creating a happy environment?

I’m all about dialing up the drama, so I love tall, towering plants. They’re the most eye-catching and are often the best bang for your buck. Just as in fashion, there are trends in plants. Right now, we seem to be in a fiddle-leaf-fig period, and while I love those plants, I find them to be very finicky. Plus, because they’re so trendy, they can demand a high price. I’ve got my eye on majestic palms. When put in the right pot and setting, they can be just as classy.

• Are there strategic spots you recommend putting plants around the house?

Lighting, lighting, lighting. That’s really the determining factor when you talk about placement. If you don’t have ample natural light—usually strongest in south-facing windows—then I recommend snake plants or ZZ plants, which are incredibly resilient, low-light-loving, and stylish. They’re a far cry from what I call “mall plants,” that drab family of low-light plants you’d see in a mall or sad office building.

5. Put down the tech

These days, professional organizer Rachel Rosenthal says, clients aren’t just fed up with messy closets—they also want help letting go of the technology cluttering their lives. If you can’t put down Twitter no matter how much it’s raising your blood pressure, consider her suggestions.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

• If your home is large enough, store your laptop in an office or other room where you can shut the door. If you walk by, you won’t have any visual temptation to log on.

• Dedicate a drawer for phones. Ask everyone to store them there during mealtime so you can actually, you know, talk to one another.

Fix Your Phone

• After 8 or 9 PM, put your phone on “do not disturb” mode, which silences calls, texts, e-mail, and other alerts. If you’re worried about missing an emergency, you can adjust the settings to allow some contacts to get through (e.g., your kids) or to notify you if the same person tries calling twice.

Article and Photo originally posted by Washingtonian last January 18, 2018 12:00am and written by Caroline Cunningham, Marisa M. Kashino & Hayley Garrison Phillips.