Designing Happiness Part 2: Happy Home

Be Bold

*This is Part 2 of a 3 part series on Designing Happiness. You can check out the introduction here for more info.

Now that we’ve worked on making our physical selves primed for all sorts of happy vibes, let’s do the same for our surroundings!  It’s pretty much a given at this point that our environment has a huge affect on our mood and emotions. I’m not going to get into all the science and philosophy here because I want to skip straight to the good stuff — HOW we can make our homes happy.

*For the purpose of this section of the series I am using the word “home” to mean your surroundings. Yes, this includes your physical home, but it really can mean any space that you spend a lot of time — your house, a room, your car, a cubicle, an office. When thinking about creating a happy “home”, you want it to be a place to feel safe; your creative sanctuary or happy haven.


Experience the Details

It's all in the details

In my intro to this series I talked a bit about what happiness is/isn’t, and one of the things I hope you gleaned was that happiness is an experience. It’s not just one thing, it’s a culmination of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that generally stem from some type of positive encounter. (An idea that many successful brands understand.)

An experience usually engages most (if not all) of our senses, including smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste, so that is something to keep in mind as you go about creating your space. 

You want to focus on little things that make you happy and pay attention to detail. Everything from the color you choose to paint the walls to the scent of the candle you have burning and the type of music you have playing, to the taste of the drink you are sipping and the feel of the fabrics you come in contact with make a difference to the overall experience.

The Confetti Bar Pink Confetti Couch

Here are some ideas for ways to engage each sense when designing what to put in and around your home:

Smell Sight Sound Touch Taste
Candles Colors Music Fabrics Drinks
Essential Oils Art

Ambient Noise

Blankets Snacks
Room Sprays Statement Pieces Fountain Pillows Mints/Candies
Incense Decor Nature Sounds Furniture  Gum

Also remember that in some cases an item might engage more than one sense at a time so you can actually have mini experiences inside the overall space. For example, I like to keep some scented confetti hanging around for a few reasons: 1. It is visually pleasing (sight) 2. It smells magical (scent) and 3. It can be used as a tactile method of meditation, such as making a confetti zen garden (touch). (And if we want to get really crazy by way of some ASMR business, sprinkling the confetti can even have a calming sound!) BAM: the ultimate happy experience. 😁


Feelings First

Before you can decide how to create a happy experience in your home, first find what emotion(s) you want to feel when you’re in the space (as this will affect the specific design choices you make). Do you want to feel calm? Energized? Loved? Motivated? Creative? If you have multiple rooms/spaces, each one might even have a different vibe.

When Cliff and I moved into our condo at the end of 2016, I knew I wanted our bedroom to feel very calming so I made it a point to leave out any distractions — like a T.V.! — and chose art/decor that makes me feel at peace. (We are currently renting, so I rely heavily on art/decor/furniture to create happy spaces since I can’t control the color of the walls or main layout of the rooms. Work with what you’ve got, people!)

When I first decided to paint a piece of art to go by our bed I started with the idea of making something calming yet colorful. As I was painting, though, something last minute came up so I had to stop, and then when I came back my day and mind were all over the place so I ended up with this:

Unicorn Vortex by Jessica Serra Huizenga 2017

While it certainly checked the colorful box, it wasn’t exactly what I had anticipated on the calming front.😝🤦🏻‍♀️You know what happened when I put it in our room? I couldn’t sleep! The painting is so busy and loud and has so much movement that I found my mind literally reflected this.

So I went back to the easel and tried something else, this time making sure I was in the right headspace to create calm, and got this:

Welcome to Dream Land by Jessica Serra Huizenga 2017

Muuuch better. The softer, blended tones and more abstract shapes almost reflect a dream-like state. (Which is why I named it “Welcome to Dream Land.”) 

My point is this: pay attention to how the things you choose to surround yourself with make you feel. (In fact, this is a good general rule for life, not just decor!)

(We ended up putting the first painting where we come inside and go upstairs to the main living area, which is fitting since I named it “Unicorn Vortex” — it’s like a portal between our happy home and the outside world!)


Color Me Happy

Colorful sequins

In the past I’ve talked about color psychology & how much color can affect our moods, but it is worth mentioning again here. 

The colors you choose to surround yourself mean something, and if you want to be extra intentional with making a happy home, you’ll want to check out this post (where you can even get a free color chart download!)

(I, for one, like to feel lots of different things, which is probably why I love #AllThe Color!)


Get Inspired

color love

A good exercise for figuring out your desired style is to browse Pinterest / books / magazines and find what spaces/imagery you are drawn to, noting how you feel. (Save these images and you can even feel free to make a vision/mood board for your home!)

(I save a lot of photos on my House & Home Pinterest board, and dream about the day Cliff and I own a house to decorate from the bottom up!)

Here are some of my other favorite shops & resources for colorful home decor:

Online Home Decor Shops

Decor inspo

Gathered Home: Not only is their Pinterest account the stuff of color-coded dreams (like seriously, #goals), but I love all the magical, mystical (& of course colorful) qualities of the items they curate in their shop (Like the Spirited Throw above.)

Hattan Home: Another mecca of colorful and glamorous goods, I love the Hattan Home philosophy of “loving your space, not just living in it.”

Furbish Studio: An eclectic & curated collection of more unique and one-of-a-kind items. I bought a sequin basket here once, and it makes me happy. ☺

LuLu & Georgia: A “go-to source for colorful and trendy home accents,” and I dig that they have a large collection ranging from small items to larger statement pieces.

Society Social: While they have a lot of great happy & bright items here, I seriously covet this pink Carmen Credenza.

And don’t get me wrong — Target, Marshall’s/HomeGoods/TJ Maxx, & Ikea are also totally my jam! And I love finding unique pieces at thrift/antique shops. As long as the decor/furniture/art makes me happy, it doesn’t matter where it comes from.

Books

This Can Be Beautiful by Tiffany Pratt

Happy Home by Jennifer Paganelli  

Your Creative Work Space by Desha Peacock (Psst you miiiight even see a familiar face featured in here! Our old Confetti Land studio is on pages 168-173)

Happy Home by Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

*The book links above are Amazon affiliate links. Because #bills.


Design Your Space

DIY Confetti Geode Wall Canvas

(Psst…you can check out some of my original art here!)

As you go about designing and developing your own little happy home, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Remember to start small if you’re feeling overwhelmed — focus on one room or section at a time if you need to. (Maybe start by creating a happy bookshelf, or a happy nook if that seems easier to manage.)
  • Focus on feelings first and foremost — constantly ask yourself “how does this make me feel?” If the answer is anything positive, know that matters more than if it “fits” with the room or is perfectly styled.
  • Accept that we go through many seasons of life — things can change, and your space should change to suit your needs and desires, too. Things that once made you happy may no longer do so, which means it’s time to let go.

What steps can you take to turn your home into a happy haven? Do you have a piece of art/furniture/decor that makes you happy any time you look at it? Discuss in the comments below!

Ready for the last step in our series? Head on over to read Part 3 here!

Designing Happiness: A Series for Health, Home, and Heart
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