7 basically free ways to level up your living space for a more productive, stress-free life

January 4, 2024

A new year is a time for fresh changes, goals and outlooks. One thing that can help facilitate these ideals is your home. Many people find it helpful to switch around the interiors of their home to signal this reset and get their mind ready for a successful, stress-free year. Sure, you can turn to remodeling your kitchen or introducing a new piece of furniture into your space, but there are several simple, less costly ways that home organization can create positive atmosphere that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. Below, we’ve rounded up some tips from our favorite experts on how you can make your home less stressful and more productive for your best 2024 life.

Minimize clutter

Many people believe that your home serves as a window into your state of mind, and Suzanne Roynon, an interiors therapy expert and member of the International Feng Shui Guild, agrees. A clean, organized space can offer clarity of the mind, while a messy or cluttered space can take a toll on your emotional and mental wellbeing. “Piles of stuff are a constant visual reminder of confusion, procrastination and a lack of self-esteem, time or energy to put things right,” Roynon explains. “This alone is enough to drain your emotional reserves, and by the time living in a jumbled environment becomes ‘normal,’ considerable damage may have been done to emotional and mental wellbeing.” 

Roynon says hiring a detached third-party (such as an expert in decluttering or a professional organizer) can help you think differently about the items you’re holding onto, but if that isn’t feasible, she recommends starting with your bedroom. “As you pick up each item, ask yourself how it is serving you — if you don’t use it, need it or love it, then it’s surplus and you are safe to let it go,” she says. 

Go for neutral color palettes

The colors in your home can make a difference in your everyday emotions. For instance, red, hot pink and orange are “fire” colors that Roynon says can promote feelings of anger and irritation while, in contrast, neutral colors can be calming and non-invasive to your thought processes. Mark Cutler, co-founder of CutlerSchulze, an interior design firm based in Los Angeles, recommends a neutral color scheme that’s earth-focused (think light green, taupe and white).

Incorporate plants wisely

“In Feng Shui, we choose species with smooth, rounded leaves and avoid anything spiky, swordlike or with barbs or claws as they create a prickly atmosphere and can cause arguments and exhaustion,” Roynon says. Also, it may feel odd at first, but research suggests that speaking kindly to living plants can not only help them thrive, it can be cathartic for you. “Having something that responds positively to you is always going to be a good thing,” Roynon says. “The key word though is ‘healthy’ – if a plant is sick or dead, it’s not going to be supportive of your happiness.” 

Think about texture

Adding texture to your home can give it a cozier, homier feel. Cutler recommends incorporating linen, woven mats and even textured plaster walls to help create the feeling of nature. Consider adding texture by way of blankets, shaggy pillows, terracotta, bowls, artwork and even a water feature. 

Clear the kitchen worktops and create more space to cook

The more countertop you have visible, the calmer your thinking will be. While you’re in the kitchen, ditch the knife block and keep knives safely concealed in a drawer. 

Keep a clean refrigerator door

Yes, home organization extends to your fridge, too. This means removing all magnets and sticky notes.

Facilitate open spaces

Start at your front door and walk around your home noticing any area where you have to divert around furniture, discarded piles or blocked doors. If you can’t walk around easily, the positive energy you would love to have around you won’t be able to flow freely either. Actively create room for good vibes to circulate throughout your home. 

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Murad, and are for informational purposes only, even if the advice of physicians and medical practitioners are included. This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered specific medical advice.  

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Michelle Rostamian is a Los Angeles-based beauty and wellness contributor for Murad's Well Connected with 10 years of experience in the industry. She currently writes for Allure, InStyle, People, The Zoe Report, W Magazine and more.