A wonderful vacation can be an experience you never forget. It can refresh and recharge you. But it also requires time, money, travel, planning, and a host of other resources you may not have available. So what’s a good alternative? Creating an escape at home!
My favorite vacation is one where the accommodations are so beautiful and so relaxing that I want to recreate the whole thing at home and stay there forever. I love to visit places that are beautifully appointed, have inspiring decor, and which feel ultra livable and comfortable. The kind of place where you sigh with enjoyment as soon as you walk in its front door.
But sometimes returning home to the realities of laundry and dishes and pets and children, makes the idea of creating a beautiful haven seem a little out of reach. Impossible, you think, to create an atmosphere like that at my home!
You may think it’s the spectacular views, the beautiful home, and the expensive furnishings that made the vacation so special. But the truth is, those memories are just the pretty paper in which your experience was wrapped.
The real gift of feeling pampered and relaxed lies more with your sensory experiences and less in the “things” that decorate it.
A place that is warm and welcoming, a place that surrounds you with things that you love, a place that allows you to relax – that is the objective of every vacation destination, and you can create this place at your home as well. Focusing on a few areas will make your home feel like the indulgent retreat you visit on your best vacations. Ready to get started?
Make It Calm and Relaxing
A universal theme of bed and breakfasts and fine hotels is that sense of calm that envelopes you when you enter. And a large part of this feeling is the absence of clutter that so quickly accumulates in a busy home. Coming up with routines that minimize the mess in your house and keep your home looking quiet and organized will go a long way in giving you the feeling of an indulgent “escape”.
A quick de-clutter strategy is to make your way through the room with a basket or box, putting everything extra in that box. Then, get rid of the things you’ve collected in one of three ways: trash it, give it away, or put it in its designated place.
The most important point about keeping your home clutter free and calm is that it’s a process, not a destination. If you’ve gone thru a hectic period in your life and feel overwhelmed by stuff and chaos – don’t give in to feelings of failure, just realize that whenever you can make time to straighten it back out, your reward will be finding that sanctuary of peace in your home once again.
Delight the Senses
What sights, sounds, and scents do you associate with some of your favorite places? Do you imagine hearing the soft ticking and the hourly chime of a grandfather clock? Or the delicious aroma of cookies baking in the oven? Were there freshly picked flowers in every room, or beautiful potted plants in the corner of the rooms?
Don’t underestimate the effect of little things on your senses. If the smell of your favorite soap invigorates you, unwrap several bars and place them in a decorative dish in your bathroom. Hang wind chimes on your porch, and outside your bedroom window, and enjoy the soft sound in every gentle breeze. Make a habit of picking a few roses (or zinnias, or camellias, or crepe myrtle branches – whatever is blooming in your yard) to put in a vase on your bedside table.
Flow with the Seasons
Stock your home with seasonal touches that make entertaining (and everyday living) a breeze.
Get your pinks and reds out for Valentine’s: pillows, throws, wreaths, a few extra candles and a vase of flowers are enough to set the mood. Keep some ingredients for cozy winter meals on hand, along with popcorn and cocoa for cool nights when you want to snuggle by the fire. A bowl of apples and oranges are festive looking and encourage healthy snacking. In fact, winter is the perfect time for all sorts of warm fruit cobblers and pies.
Where we live, there are plenty of warm days right through the winter, so we keep the porch swept and chairs out so that we can spend time outdoors as often as the weather permits. Even when we bring pot plants in for the winter, containers and beds with pansies keep things looking cheerful outdoors.
Add soft blankets and throws to your living room décor, and place an additional throw across the bed. Bring home winter staples for the pantry including spiced tea, hot chocolate, and flavored creamer for coffee. Keep some basic baking staples on hand. Stock the freezer with casseroles, stews and chilis that can be popped in the oven (or microwave) for easy dinner options.
Create a Spa-like Bathroom
Place a small vase of fresh flowers and / or a candle in the bathroom. Hang small towels to use for hand-drying, and place extra unwrapped soaps in a decorative container (they will look pretty, be easy to reach, and have a nice scent as well). You can also add a hook to the back of your bathroom door to hang a plush bathrobe.
Use pretty containers (repurpose empty jars, decorative containers, or even vases or wine bottles) to hold bath salts and gels. Use a basket to towels in neat rolls, or hang a rack on the wall and place rolled up towels in it as a decorative accent.
Look at Your Home with Fresh Eyes
When you are looking for ways to tweak your home’s décor or freshen it up for a new season, walk around the house as though you were a first time visitor, and try to notice things you might overlook on a regular day.
Are the baseboards clean? Is there gunk on the shower door jamb? An inexpensive magic eraser will do wonders for both these things. The tub and shower can be cleaned a number of ways (one method is to use dish-wash powder – be sure to wear gloves!) Is your stove top clean? Using a damp cloth, scrub it gently with baking powder to remove most of the stains. Do you need to dust your windowsills, shelves, lampshades or picture frames? Are the entry rugs pretty, or do they need to be updated?
Take the time to look at each room as though you were seeing it for the first time, and clean up the areas that need attention. You might be surprised at how restful and welcoming your own home feels when you are through!
Make the Everyday Special
When it comes down to it, your home is the sanctuary to which you can escape at the end of every day. Don’t wait for a time when you can afford more, better, or prettier things; or hope for a situation where someone else is responsible for pampering you. Time is precious – and the days will go by more quickly than you think.
Spending a little time planning, giving a little attention to detail, and making those small everyday efforts to keep up your beautiful retreat will be rewarded many times over.