10 ways to embrace slow living in your home
It’s a brand new year and the wellness trend looks set to continue into 2024, crossing over into interiors with a real focus on spaces that support self-care and the simple things in life.
It’s little wonder, therefore, that the slow living trend is having a moment right now, clocking up over a billion views on TikTok.
But how exactly do you live a slow life and how does it translate into home décor?
Slow or soft living is essentially about taking time to relax, looking after yourself, and putting your mental health and wellbeing first. It’s all about finding joy in simple pleasures, which extends to creating relaxing interiors in your home.
“The stress of modern life can get to anyone so it’s no surprise that a lot of people have embraced slow living,” explains Rebecca Snowden, interior style advisor at Furniture And Choice.
“A lifestyle trend that’s all about appreciating the little things in life, slow living encourages us to be more mindful and enjoy our surroundings.”
To create a home dedicated to slow living, Snowden says relaxation must be the top priority. “Take inspiration from Hygge with an earthy palette, warm lighting, cosy textures and lots of candles,” she advises.
“Prioritise natural lighting by keeping the curtains open during the day or placing mirrors directly opposite the windows to reflect the light. Another key part of slow living is to limit the use of technology. Create technology-free zones in your home such as a reading nook in your study or a musical corner where you can play an instrument of your choice.”
Intrigued to find out more? Here are 10 ways to incorporate slow living into your home décor.
In 2024, homeowners will be looking to incorporate comforting textures in the form of tactile fabrics and natural materials to create a cosy, cocooning interior.
“The slow living trend is all about creating a welcoming haven at home, where it feels warm, welcoming and harmonious,” explains Juliette Thomas, founder and creative director of Juliettes Interiors.
“Tactile fabrics can be incorporated in several ways, from bouclé upholstered furniture to chunky knitted throws and cushions – which are perfect for the colder months of the year. Velvet is another example of a popular, tactile fabric due to its sumptuous and comforting appeal.”
One way to embrace the slow living trend in your home is to get creative with layering.
“At this time of the year everyone talks about layering up an outfit to outsmart unpredictable weather and the same can apply to textures within your home, especially to showcase the slow living trend,” explains Lisa Cooper, head of product at Thomas Sanderson.
“Experiment with different patterns and texture combinations, like faux silks and plush velvets that both reflect your style but also make the most of those precious hours of sunlight.”
Feel good with wood
Wood is a core ingredient in the recipe for slow living decor. While it helps to create timeless and elegant interiors, its benefits run far deeper than surface-level aesthetics.
“This is further supported by the Scandinavian philosophy of friluftsliv, which revolves around the idea that increased proximity to nature elevates wellbeing. The capacity to promote relaxation makes wood the perfect material for home interiors.”
Wood is also one of the most sustainable materials, which also supports the slow living philosophy.
“Living trees absorb carbon dioxide and are also able to be replanted again and again,” Björkman adds.
Get back to nature
Choosing natural materials to furnish your home will have a lasting, positive impact both inside and outside.
“Be sure to incorporate a variety of textures – smooth, solid, soft, and silky – into each room,” says Björkman.
“Every material holds a different visual weight and depth and so, when combined mindfully, create a beautifully balanced, harmonious, and intriguing interior.”
Björkman suggests opting for wood, bamboo and natural stone as sustainable choices for incorporating solid, rustic and smooth surfaces into each room.
“Add softer textures using plant fibres and natural fabrics amongst other eco-friendly materials,” she says. “Think velvety cashmere blankets, light cotton lampshades, fluffy wool rugs, woven jute baskets, seagrass placemats, reed backets and cork pinboards.”
Make a mindful home
When it comes to decking out your home, slow lifers take a mindful approach, preferring to fill their space with long-lasting, high-quality, and much-treasured possessions rather than being tempted by the modern-day habit of constantly bringing in the new and throwing out the old.
“Always ask yourself whether this new item is something you really want or need,” suggests Björkman.
“A great way to gauge this is with the test of memory and time. Write down any desired items on a wish list, pop this away for a week or so, and, upon returning to it, ask yourself: can you remember all the items and, if so, do you still feel strongly about having them? This will help to avoid any impulse purchases, which can often end up sitting unused and unappreciated after the initial excitement fades.”
Where possible, Björkman recommends sourcing any new household items second-hand. “Your local charity shop, flea market or online marketplace can be great places to find vintage gems. This approach is more environmentally friendly and can often result in finding high-quality, timeless items for a significantly lower price than their shiny, new counterparts.”
Reconsider, revamp and recycle
Natural wear and tear can mean that some objects lose their original function or beauty, but slow living means not giving in to your first impulse to throw it away.
“Firstly, consider whether you might be able to give the item a new lease of life with a makeover,” suggests Björkman.
“You would be amazed how a light touch of handiwork, be it a thorough clean, a fresh lick of paint, or a quick sanding can transform an item to look better than new.”
If this is not an option, she recommends exploring the possibility of upcycling – the process of taking old, unused objects and repurposing them for use in new ways.
“Think empty jars transformed into small flower vases, used tins being useful pen pots, and glass bottles becoming stylish candle holders,” she says.
If you feel that some belongings, even if revamped or repurposed, are simply no longer of use to you, contributing to physical (and mental!) clutter, Björkman suggests donating any unwanted items to charity shops, passing them on to friends, or selling them online.
She adds: “After all, as the saying goes, one person’s trash might be another person’s treasure!”
Colour can play a key role in influencing mood, so it is important to be mindful of hues when it comes to embracing the slow living trend in your interiors.
“Soft, earthy, and neutral palettes are perfect for the home, all being linked to fostering feelings of calm,” advises Björkman.
“Opt for darker shades – like warm taupe, sandy yellows, and earthy pinks – in places where you are likely to want to feel cosy and comfortable, such as the living room. Lighter, neutral colours – think milky whites, gentle greys, and light browns – can be incorporated into spaces more suited to feeling fresh and productive, for example, the kitchen.”
For those looking to add a little more colour to their interiors, whilst maintaining this important sense of serenity, take inspiration from the softer hues of nature: sky blues, pistachio greens, primrose yellows and sunset oranges.
“Of course, there is no need to shy away from bright colours entirely,” Björkman adds. “A great way to incorporate some of your favourite colours into your interiors – whether they be cobalt blue, scarlet red, or electric pink – is by adding small, uplifting bursts throughout, for example, with a fun plant pot on the bathroom windowsill or colour pop pillow in your bedroom.”
Embrace the elements
When it comes to designing and decorating your home, slow living decor is all about working with nature rather than fighting against it.
“Make the most of the natural light by keeping window spaces clear, so as not to block any rays,” advises Björkman. “Position desks, dining tables, and any other freestanding furniture, likely to dictate where you’ll spend prolonged periods of time, in sunspots so that you can make the most of the (sometimes rare!) UK sunshine.”
In north-facing rooms, Björkman recommends subtlety decorating using resources and objects which will add light-reflecting surfaces – white paints, mirrors, and metallic surfaces – to make most of the light available.
When it comes to heating your home, Björkman says a woodburning stove is an ideal option and, with the ongoing surge in gas prices, has the added bonus of providing a cost-effective alternative.
“Wood has long-been an energy source for humans, with the flickering light and toasty warmth of a fire providing both warmth and comfort for generations,” she explains.
“Contrary to popular belief, woodburning stoves can offer an efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective heat source, releasing up to 90% less emissions compared to a traditional open fire for example, and using only wood – a renewable, low-carbon energy source.”
Declutter to create calm
One of the key principles of slow living is creating a calm environment and as we know it is almost impossible to feel zen amid mess, particularly when research shows a cluttered space raises stress levels.
One study found that women who reported more clutter in their homes had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol throughout the day compared to women who had less clutter.
“Getting rid of any objects that aren’t necessary or harmonious to your life is the first step to creating a mindful home,” explains interior designer Francesca Harris.
While it is often overlooked when thinking about the overall look of a room, lighting can be fundamental to embracing slow living in the home.
“Where possible, bring in as much natural light as you can, and compliment that with layered lighting throughout, lamps at different heights work well for this, and be sure to use a warm white bulb to make your space relaxing and welcoming,” Harris recommends.
Mara Rypacek Miller, managing director of Industville, suggests incorporating dynamic lighting systems that allow you to adjust the colour temperature and brightness levels of your lighting throughout the day.
“Products such as dimmer switches and smart bulbs offer the ability to tweak lighting according to time, mood, and activity,” she says.
“Warm, dimmed lighting in the evening helps signal the body to wind down and promotes the natural production of melatonin, supporting a restful night’s sleep. Smart bulbs, on the other hand, offer a myriad of colour options, enabling one to alter the hue according to preference.”