So many of our home-improvement and design choices are practical ones: Which sofa will stand up over the years? Which paint color matches the furniture?
But what about changes that could really elevate our happiness at home?
Sometimes the smallest things can make home life easier and more joyful: Interior designer Kate Jackson says that starting each day using her sterling silver spoons makes the morning feel more special for her whole family.
In this season of gift-giving, we’ve asked Jackson and two other designers – Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design for the Home Depot, and New York-based Danielle Colding – about home innovations and splurges that you can give yourself.
Warm floors all winter
Colding had a client with a large house that was often filled with friends. The kitchen was the most-used room and “he just wanted the luxury of that room feeling really good,” Colding says, but “it just felt cold.” So they found a creative solution: Adding a heated floor.
The key to these kinds of investments, Colding says, is knowing which ones will really improve your daily life. Although expensive, a heated kitchen floor is a feature you can use every day in the fall and winter.
“It’s like when people spend $300 on jeans and it sounds crazy,” Colding says, but they wear those jeans constantly and treasure them.
Upgrading your closet
“There’s something about a really well organized, decked-out closet,” Fishburne says, that improves the start of every day.
When you get dressed, she says, “you’re not rushing, going `Where did I put this?“’ And you wear more of your clothes because you can actually see them.
Technology has made closet planning simpler and more fun: Home Depot and other companies offer online planning tools that let you sketch out different configurations. And the range of storage solutions and styles of closet interiors has been expanding.
A sound system throughout your home
Jackson, who is based in Rhode Island, says clients who have invested in good sound systems installed in the walls are always glad they did.
“Sounds can obviously set a mood and have a really powerful effect on how we feel through the day,” she says. Few things impact an entire home so powerfully, she says. And unlike a piece of furniture that you might get tired of, easy access to great sound is “the gift that keeps on giving.”
The holidays often bring overnight guests, Colding says, and that’s when we notice the quality of our bed and bath linens.
Treating yourself and your guests to soft, crisp sheets and fluffy towels can be expensive, she says. But the difference in quality and comfort can be surprising, and for some people the enjoyment is worth the investment.
And on a practical level, “they last forever,” she says, and “they wash really well.”
One less expensive treat that Fishburne has “kind of fallen in love with” is a high-tech touch faucet. These switch on with just the lightest pressure – even a quick tap from an elbow or fingertip. So if you’re cooking and have your hands full, you can turn on the water without putting down a hot pot or heavy colander.
There is a health benefit: If you’re cooking with raw meat or eggs and need to turn on the water, you don’t need to risk transferring germs from your hands to the tap. And many models have an ingenious safety feature: A light shows blue or red, depending on the water temperature.
Painting a room is an affordable and easy do-it-yourself choice, Jackson says. But the joy you may get from professionally installed, luxurious wallpaper can last for years.
While decorating the bathrooms in a client’s home, Jackson suggested striking wallpaper that “made these ‘vanilla’ rooms sing.”
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