Like it or not, we live in a fast-paced world filled with external stimuli, noise, demands from our employers and expectations from others.  As we age our responsibilities seem to stack up as well.  Your home should be your sanctuary, your safe haven, a space that provides you with a feeling of safety, relaxation and comfort.  All too often, though, our houses slip into a more perfunctory role. Sometimes they even cause stress, confronting us with reminders of things to do as soon as we step through the door. We return home to a deluge of mail, bills, telephone messages and chores. Cell phones and email connect us constantly with the outside world, at the same time interrupting our contact with our families. In some homes, the TV is on constantly, blaring news of upsetting events and life and death dramas.

How can we steer our homes back to the sanctuary we once thought it would be when we bought it?  Let’s take you back on a journey to take time to remember the reasons you said “yes” to this home in the first place and how to turn your home into a space that provides you and your family a sense of calm.

So what can you do, in this busy world, to create your home sanctuary for your family?

  1. Make it personal.

Display photos of your favorite memories with family, friends, and/or your significant other. Paint an accent wall in your favorite color, or use that color in your accessories. Create an art gallery to display your kids’ artwork in a creative fashion. Whatever makes you, you, give it its own special place in your home where you will see it regularly. Items with a history or story behind them bring more soul to your space and are nice to come home to.

  1. Add natural beauty.

Buy a plant or flowers to add a touch of nature to your home.  Many living plants are air purifiers, bringing an actual breath of fresh air into your home. Simply indulging in the occasional flower bouquet from your local grocery store can make you, and your home, feel special. Caring for a houseplant and watching it grow can also be satisfying, and will contribute a sense of specialness.

  1. Create a Zen area.

Create an area in your home that is dedicated to peace and relaxation. Whether it’s a special reading nook for you to cozy up with your favorite book in or a space dedicated to meditation, prayer, or yoga, find a place in your home (or your garden) where you can retreat when you need time to re-connect with yourself and re-focus your mind.

  1. Clean, de-clutter, and organize.

Seeing a mess can stress you out, so keeping your home clean, organized, and de-cluttered can help you enjoy your home more. Take some time to de-clutter and organize your house. Before you purchase any new items, find 10 items and either donate (if they’re in good condition) or throw them away (if they’re broken).

  1. Work with the seasons.

Allow your home to reflect the time of year, and it will feel more enjoyable and nourishing. In the winter you can put up heavy drapes that can be closed to keep in the heat, then light candles and, if possible, a fire to create a sense of coziness and protection from the elements.

  1. Get the lighting right.

Good lighting can lift the mood of a room and help it function better. Get it right, and any space can feel like a welcoming oasis. Weave in a mix of sources for a layered effect and be sure to add plenty of ambient light too — candles and twinkle lights are good for this.

  1. Make your bed each morning.

Just the sight of a beautifully made bed when you return home from a busy day can help you relax. So even if you do nothing else before running out the door each morning, make your bed!

  1. Conceal work.

If you work from home but your desk is part of a large multipurpose room, be sure to hide your computer at the end of the day to give yourself a mental rest. The same goes for any paperwork you haven’t addressed yet. When it’s quitting time, stow it away so your home switches to being a calming haven instead.

  1. Introduce some scent.

Turning your home into a space that soothes and nurtures can be as much about how it smells as how it looks. Scent can help us unwind and may carry associations of places we love and bring back fond memories.

To flourish, we all need a safe place — both physically and emotionally — to come home to.