How to Create a Home that Makes You Happy

Hands up if you've drooled over one of those idyllic and perfectly styled homes on Pinterest or on HGTV or a magazine and thought, "Oh, if only my home looked like that I'd be so happy". 

Yep, me too. But in reality, even if we could mimic those homes on our realistic budgets (ha!) we wouldn't be happy. Because they just wouldn't feel right. A designed and intentionally composed space for photo shoots look great on the page - but they're not for real life. Away from the lens, it's a different story. 

Your own home - the one you actually live real life in - needs to be rooted in function and personal meaning, which can’t be achieved by emulating an Instagram square. It comes from your story, your purpose, and your values. If it's just style with no substance, it feels hollow. 

Photo by Robin Stubbert

Photo by Robin Stubbert

You've probably visited someone's home for the first time and got the sense that their home matches exactly who they are. It has a genuine feel and is welcoming and comfortable. It made you want to stick around for a while. 

That's the real goal for your space, not the Pinterest image. Because if your home feels comfortable, easy and like you, not only will others feel good in it, but so will you. You'll be able to relax and live more closely to your true self and purpose - and be happier doing it. 

So how you do you accomplish creating a home that makes you happy?

By adding function first, and then meaning. 

1. Make your home functional.

No matter how beautiful your home looks, if it doesn't make your life easy and comfortable, you won't be happy. You need to arrange your furniture so it promotes the way you live (or want to live). You need to organize your spaces so that daily tasks like cooking, exercising and getting ready in the morning are easy. You need to make sure that your bedroom promotes good sleep. You need to make sure that you have specific spots to put the things you use regularly so that they don't clutter your spaces and become hard to find or use. 

Here are some practical examples of how to make your home functional:

How to design a happy home: make it functional first
  • Keep traffic paths clear of clutter, stuff on the floor, and furniture.

  • Place furniture where you need it. If you like to read in a window, make sure to arrange your room so you have a comfy chair there so you'll be encouraged to read more.

  • Add storage in easily accessible areas by employing attractive baskets and bins, so you can have things like toilet paper, cleaning cloths, and tea bags right where you need them.

  • Store items in the room where they're used. For example, table linens are stored in the dining room or kitchen, dirty clothes hampers are in each bedroom and/or bathroom, coffee goes by the coffee maker.

  • Create a dedicated nook for administrative things like paying bills, writing notes, and charging your devices (see these ideas on creating a charging station). Keep this kind of activity restricted to one place in the home so it doesn't creep into your everyday routines or relaxation times, and so that everything you need is one place when you need it.

  • Have multiple table surfaces. You want to be comfortable when curling up and relaxing, so have coffee and side tables around your seating for drinks, lighting, books, etc.

  • Have good lighting. Nothing is more frustrating than not having enough lighting where you need it. Invest in floor, table and hanging lamps (here's an inexpensive DIY hanging light idea).

  • Try open shelving and glass containers. It makes cooking and baking much easier, and works in the bathroom too for personal goods you use daily.

  • Use trays on top of dressers and shelves as a tidy collection spot for jewelry, loose change, wallets, or other little daily things. Make the trays the ONLY place you lay those items down, so you'll never misplace them.

  • Use hooks to keep outerwear, bags, scarves and hats ready where you need them (and not crammed into a closet or lying on the floor).

2. Layer in personal meaning.

There are so many ways to personalize your home beyond just family photos, which, of course, are also important if you value family. Each room in your home should have something that either connects you to your past, speaks to your current values, or inspires you for the future.

How to Design a Home that Makes You Happy

Examples of items that might add meaning to your home: 

How to create a happy meaningful home
  • An heirloom handed down from a family member.

  • A piece of artwork that inspires you and brings you joy - it doesn't have to be expensive - it could even be your own!

  • Your favorite books on display.

  • Your favourite music on display.

  • A blanket, throw or tablecloth in a fabric that speaks to your ancestry.

  • One or two special mementos that hold significance to you or that remind you of a particular stage in your life or place that you traveled to.

  • A display of a collection you love.

  • A photo, postcard, or map of somewhere you lived or visited, or want to visit in the future.

  • A pillow covered in the fabric of your favorite old sweater or t-shirt.

  • A quote, mantra, or verse that inspires you printed and framed or hung in an interesting way.

  • Your kids’ artwork, framed.

  • Plants or other organic materials that make you feel connected to the natural world.

  • A chalkboard with your favourite healthy recipe written on it and hanging where you can easily see.

  • A symbol of something meaningful to you (perhaps a spiritual symbol, a music symbol or a pineapple, which is a symbol for "welcome").

Photo by Robin Stubbert for Refreshed Designs

Photo by Robin Stubbert for Refreshed Designs

Refreshed Designs

Refreshed Designs

Go ahead and dream about the newest Sarah Richardson-designed home (I do!) but don't feel you need to purchase expensive furniture and custom draperies or achieve perfect styling to make you happy. Do some of the small things that will make your home functional and meaningful, then sit back and enjoy. The beauty of simplicity will shine through. 


Ever wondered how to create that HGTV/magazine look and have your own personal, meaningful things stand out? It's with white walls.

White provides the perfect light and neutral backdrop on which meaningful artwork books, photos and even furniture can stand out and take center-stage. We're not supposed to see and admire the wall colour, we're supposed to see and admire our homes.