11 Ways To Make Your Home Feel Happier + More Like You

Want to make your home feel happier? Of course you do? Click through for decor tips and design ideas that will make any space happier, cozier, and more personal
Many years ago, I went through A Very Bad Breakup. When my three-year relationship ended, I moved into an adorable little shoe box of an apartment and decided that this little place was going to be a bastion of joy and silliness and positivity.
Slowly but surely,  I happy-fied my apartment, making it impossible to feel anything other than glee while hanging there.

Here’s how I made my home feel happy + more like me 

1. Put up pictures of you and your friends being hilarious, adorable, amazing

Too often my walls are decorated with Etsy finds or tastefully abstract art. But isn’t it much more fun to cover the fridge and cork board with the photos of you and your friends wearing matching technical gear? Or hiking all over?

2. Make it smell happy

Aromatherapy is for real,guys. There’s a scent-treatment for whatever ails you. Buy an essential oil diffuser and then choose an oil for whatever ails you! Focus better, relax, or energize.  Smell your way better!

3. Paint an accent wall a color you love

Colors make a huge difference in how you feel about a space. When I moved into my apartment, it featured awful flesh-toned satin-finish paint on every blessed wall. No one wants to live inside a skin ball. But! Now it’s white with accent walls in a color best described as mermaid. And I feel so much better.

Choose a color that will help you feel the way you want to feel. Here’s a great article about how the colors of your space affect your moods and which colors are best for which rooms.

4. Stock your fridge and pantry with food you love

Things that are depressing: opening your fridge to discover you have a bag of moldy radishes, one Coors light and a slice of leftover pizza. Grocery shopping is the one avenue where I allow myself to spend indiscriminately and I love stocking my kitchen with food that thrills me: strawberries, wine, baguettes, fake bacon, tiny fingerling bananas. It’s lovely open those doors and feel happy about what you find.

Which (relatively healthy) foods do you love? What slightly-fancy foods do you ‘save’ for special occasions? What if your special occasion was “I nailed that presentation at work!” or “I finally purged my closet!” Celebrating little victories is one of the keys to a happy life.

5. Consider a Non-cheesy Inspirational Poster

Yes, such a thing exists. And no, I’m not talking about those awful black-edged numbers with someone standing on a mountain top. Art.com has some excellent choices that will work with your decor and won’t embarrass you in front of your friends.

6. Add a Bit of Greenery

Plants are our friends. I am absolutely in love with my balcony garden of tiny vegetables and herbs and I hope to increase my herb family to include a Venus fly trap and one of those fantastic tiny pepper plants. Plants seem to make a space feel friendlier, don’t you think? They’ve been shown to decrease stress while increasing productivity!

7. Incorporate Favorite Things into Your Decor

This might not be an issue for non-Virgos, but I get very hung up on the matchy-matchy and Decor with a capitol D. But it’s important that our spaces reflect who we are – not just what was on sale at Ikea. Let’s find a place for our high school dancing trophies and our pound puppies from third grade and that plaque in Swedish from our grandma.

8. Get a pet

Obbbbviously getting a pet is a huge responsibility. Of course you should give it a lot of thought and really, really consider if a pet would be a good fit for your lifestyle.

That being said, few things make you feel better faster than an animal friend. In fact, pet ownership has been shown to reduce stress and depression! If you want to dip your toe into pet ownership, consider fostering first.

9. Stock up on engaging, funny books and movies

If you’re trying to get over a break up/lay off/grad school rejection, put away the Dostoevsky and Dancer in the Dark. I can never get enough of Bill Bryson, David Sedaris or, as of late, anything by L.M. Montgomer. And few things can lift my spirits like Babe, Billy Elliot or American Teen.

10. Paint the inside of your closets or cupboards a crazy color

Such a lovely surprise when you open those doors every morning! How cute is this? I’m pretty sure even your sweaters will be happier, nestled in a place that colorful.

11. Incorporate the whimsical and ridiculous into your space

But I want to hear from you! What do you do to make your living space more happy?

P.S. Did you know I have a (free) private Facebook group dedicated solely to the topics of money and happiness? And the stuff we talk about has helped members change jobs, save thousands of dollars, and fight less with their partners? Join us!

photo by christopher harris // cc

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  1. andlaughing

    me! me too! i am going through a Very Bad Breakup too!
    on the 19th of august i move into a new tiny apartment! for the first time on my own AND with a dog!
    at the ripe age of 22 i have never felt so sweet and terrifyingly free.

  2. Corrine/Frock And Roll

    I love all of these 🙂 It sounds kind of kooky, but one of my best friends has had a rough couple of years, so another friend decided to burn some sage throughout his new place before he moved in, in order to symbolize a new beginning.. well, he's only been there for a few months, but already I get this amazing sense of calm whenever I walk in to visit, and just about everybody says the same thing upon entering! AND.. *dun dun da* .. his life really seems to have turned around, and he's a lot happier.. I know, it's weird, nutty and almost 100% loony, but it seems to have worked! 😉

  3. Sarah Von Bargen

    Whatever works, right? I have a good friend who's Native American and she had her dad come through and bless/cleanse the house we moved into our senior year of college. And that was a good year!

  4. jess

    All great suggestions! I think the pet one works best – I have a sweet little cat whose more or less my child.

    I also like to keep the windows open (when it's nice out) and have fresh flowers! Candles and blankets are nice for when you want to be cozy…

  5. George

    Yes! It is my firm conclusion that trying to save money on food is A BAD IDEA. Because food is important.

  6. Erin

    We have guitars hanging on one of the walls and a piano. Our house feels so much cozier and happier knowing we could make music at any moment.

  7. niceguyted

    Ok, I'm trying to figure out this aromatherapy link thing: I've clicked it multiple times but can't smell anything. I've sniffed the page both before and after clicking the link. I've even scratched my screen. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to change my cursor to the little hand-thingie that grabs stuff in Acrobat. Maybe that's the scratch fxn for my computer…

  8. Georgia

    This post made me smile. I also have "flesh" colored walls and it drives me batty. I'm planning on adding an accent wall soon, but I can't imagine painting the rest white…too daunting!

  9. Erin

    Our awesome, hilarious friend Jess gave me a little poster from marriedtothesea.com with a sketch of the fictional "Museum of Shitty Animals" which supposedly exists in Columbus, OH. That, along with a postcard of some graffiti in Berlin that says "FUCK" on it, brought me the constant catharsis of cursing. Seriously…every time I looked at them.

    Ooh, also! Years ago I ordered Elizabeth Taylor paper dolls from Ebay, arranged her and her wardrobe choices on colored (acid-free) paper and framed them and she hangs girlishly on my bathroom door, where she can help me decide which outfits to wear each day. So helpful.

  10. Nicole Ioma

    You always have such good ideas. I now cannot WAIT to move into my own place and paint the insides of the cupboards and closets whatever colors I want.

  11. Bethany

    In our redonk-o-saurously small little Airstream we have a few staples… a James Brown magnet that lives in the hood above the stove top. Hot! A sock monkey that swings from a curtain rod, one extraordinarily silly little terrier mutt aged two and a half years. Other than that wade through the secret piles of accumulated stuff from all over the country and who knows what you'll find? Mmmmmm…. what is this here? A llama scented postcard from Bolivia? Yes! Yes it is! Perfect.

  12. Sal

    Put musical instruments out in plain sight, even if you don't play. It'll encourage you to experiment, and encourage any guests to hootenanny!

  13. Bridey

    I love these ideas! Your place sounds lovely, any chance to see some photos at some stage? I especially like the sound of the mermaid coloured wall.

  14. Kate @ Très Lola

    i love this article! i've just moved into a new flat share and am looking forward to picking up a bunch of cheap but quirky frames to hang photos that i've taken on my travels (printed in sepia or black and white to look all dramatic and fabulous).

  15. R.

    Yay! The timing of this post is perfect – I'm moving into a new apt tomorrow and have been thinking about how to decorate it all week. Thanks for the new shot of inspiration!


  16. okgoods

    Oh man, I can't believe it;s over.
    Officially, I would like to say best post ever!
    I want/need to do all aforementioned things, thanks again for being awesome and optimistic and full of things I want to read about!

    I hung lots of mismatched frames in my living room and filled them with stupid and funny things. It never fails to entertain me and guests… and makes me wonder 'what was I thinking'? In the best way.

  17. Lindsay

    When I lived alone, having a fantastic bed with the most wonderful linens and pillows was sooooo important to me. And my TV played Golden Girls as often as possible. Two very important things to me, along with the 2 sweet puppies I got. Oh and hand soaps that I loved. Tissues in every room too. Anything that makes you feel comfy and happy.

  18. Lona

    Flowers! Flowers everywhere! Put them in a vase. Put them on your little porch…put them in the ground! Even if you have a rental. Flowers make it seem like home. ?

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