As her new book hits the shelves,Victoria Harrison reveals her mood-boosting design secrets that will help you create a mindful home for a happier, healthier you.
For some, searching for happiness might mean climbing the top of the career ladder or increasing their wealth, but it's important to remember that happiness begins at home.
From using pretty plants to grow your own fresh air to introducing bright, positive colours into your decorating scheme, interiors editor, Victoria Harrison shares her top tips for creating a happy home to celebrate the release of her new book, Happy by Design, which we already have on our must-read list.
How to decorate with the happiest colour
Image: Loupe Images, Debi Treloar/Selina Lake
'If you had to choose the happiest colour, which shade would you go for? Sky blue, maybe? Ruby red? Or how about sunshine yellow? According to research undertaken by a team the University of Manchester, when it comes to colours that make us feel happy, there is a clear winner that we can all agree on.
Yellow is a powerful shade, so it can have a real impact in a contemporary home. Add a playful touch by introducing a flash of zesty colour where it is going to be least expected, such as the lining of a curtain or around a doorframe. Painting the inside edge of a door is another way to defy convention and reveal a small sliver of sunshine each time you open it. Just be sure to use this accent colour sparingly, to highlight small details, add drama or introduce an element of fun.'
Grow plants for your own fresh air
'Choosing the right plants could be one of the smartest things you can do to boost your health and happiness levels indoors. Did you know that the majority of houseplants release oxygen during the day but not at night?
So if you want to oxgenate your bedroom while you sleep, you'll need to pick one of a small tribe of plants that go against the grain and work hard to clean the air right through the night. The following plants are all night-time oxygenators that are believed to stand guard over you while you snooze.
- Aloe vera
- Dendrobium orchids
- Moth orchid (Phalaenopsis)
- Mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)
- Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisi)'
Tidy your way to happiness
Image: Living 4 Media, Marji Hessel
'Waiting for the perfect moment to declutter your home? Here's the secret: that moment is now. Tidy people like my sister don't leave jobs until later, they pick up clutter as soon as they see it, they wash their dishes when they have finished eating and they make the bed as soon as they hop out of it. Yes, those people really do exist, and yes, you can become one too, with a little practice.
Tidy people will ruthlessly edit down the items in their home on a regular basis. They don't need to have a huge declutter because they don't let items build up in the first place. Cast a similarly critical eye over your own home and start to filter out unnescessary items on a daily basis. Cupboard full of kitchen appliances you only used once? Sell or donate them. Old coats cluttering up your hall cupboard? Donate them to a charity and claim back your storage space.'
Harness the mood-boosting power of flowers
Image: Shutterstock, Daria Minaeva
'There are few things that can lift my mood as quickly and effectively as a bunch of freshly picked garden flowers. From richly scented roses and delicate sweet peas to gently swaying stems of foxgloves and steely delphiniums, my home looks happier and my mood feels brighter when I take the time to fill a vase with flowers. Here's how to choose and arrange flowers to suit your interior style.
If your interior style is clean-lined and contemporary, stick to one colour of flower and go large with it to create a really striking display. Tall spikes of crimson red crocosmia would look good in a simple glass vase, for example, as would a cluster of sky-blue delphiniums. The secret is to pick flowers with strong, clean lines and a saturated colour and give them space to shine in their own right, without competition from other shapes and hues.'
How to create a cosy retreat
Image: Laura Ashley
'The secret to a cosy room scheme is to use a variety of different tactile elements that will pull together to create a soft, enveloping space in which to hibernate as the nights draw in. Steer clear of anything hard-edged or cold, such as metal, glass or concrete, and choose soft, natural materials instead, to create a room scheme that invites you to settle in and relax.
Everything that you use on a daily basis should be made of simple but good-quality materials, so when you are choosing a new throw, cushion or even a mug, think about how the material feels as well as how it looks. Polished wood, hard-glazed pottery, crisp cottons and soft linens are all worth investing in, and any materials that you have frequent contact with, such as door handles or light pulls, for example, should be considered carefully, too.
How to unearth happiness in the garden
Image: iStock, Proformabooks
'If you have ever stretched out in the gently dappled shade of a tree on a hot summer's afternoon, listening to the bees lazily humming nearby and the rustle of leaves overhead, you won't be surprised to learn that being in contact with nature has the power to make you happier and healthier. Here's how to turn your garden into an outdoor living room to allow you to enjoy those long summer days and nights.
If you want to relax, unwind and socialise in the garden, you need to think about the space in the same way as you would an indoor living room, and give equal care to your outdoor decor as you would to your interiors. This means thinking about seating, lighting and accessories. Transform a garden bench into a soft sofa with a few sturdy cushions and blankets, draw up a low table as a handy perch for drinks, snacks and magazines, and bring colour, pattern and personality with accessories such as lanterns, bunting and oversized floor cushions.'
Discover the happiness scents
Image: Loupe Images, Rachel Whiting
'The original is always the best. So when you can, invest in the living, breathing version of your favourite floral scent, be it a vase of bluebells, an armful of roses or a branch of jasmine. The scent will be much sublter than an artificial replica, but it will be all the fresher and more delightful for it.
Plus, if you pick flowers from your garden, they will also bring something of the scent of the damp earth, fresh breeze of summer rain with them, which is something that really can't be bottled.'
For more genius happy home tips and inspiration, make sure you grab a copy of Victoria Harrison's new book, Happy by Design, £12.99, by Octopus Publishing, out now.