How & Why I Improved My Home Environment

As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, I focus on much more than food when helping clients, and also when I’m working on my own lifestyle, too. After all, life is about so much more than what we eat, and although this is incredibly important and the reason why most clients get in touch, it often transpires that there are other areas of their lives which also need some TLC.

Over the coming months, I’ll be looking at the different elements of ‘the circle of life’, talking from my own personal perspective before giving a couple of tips about how you can work on each area if you need to, and how I can help you with this. The areas in which you need to focus on and those which you are doing great in will change with time and according to your own specific circumstances. It’s always a good idea to ‘check in’ with yourself regularly, just to see where you’re at.

(Note: for the sake of privacy, the images in this post are not of my home)

Home environment: My personal experience
Firstly, I have a small confession to make: when I first began studying with IIN, I gave very little thought to home environment.I figured that I was lucky enough to have a roof over my head and a garden to spend time in, so why should I need to think about this area of life at all? All I can say is, that nearly two years later, one of the greatest things I have done to improve my general wellbeing is to focus on my home environment. In fact, this has been a work in progress for quite some time, and I have finally realised how important it is.When I first moved to Dubai, like many I lived in accommodation that was provided by my employer. I did a great job at making this ‘homely’, but when I got married and moved in with my husband, it was almost as if I lost all responsibility for creating a nice environment. As my husband bought our current home before we met, I spent the first couple of years thinking of it as ‘his house’. It was full of his furniture and…his clutter. Bless him, he’s not the most organised of people and brings a whole new meaning to the word ‘hoarder’. Through no fault of his, and despite him encouraging to make the space more my own (or ours), I was really daunted by the prospect; not having any idea where to start and believing that I just wasn’t one of those people who were creative enough to make a house a home.Together, we painted our bedroom, which became one of the nicest rooms in the house but also caused a couple of arguments in the process 😉 That was it for a couple of years.After starting my Health Coaching Course, it slowly dawned on me that part of what had been holding me back was this home environment. Considering I mainly work from home, how that place speaks to me and how it makes me feel affects not only my private life, but also my professional life. I realised that I needed a home that:
  • Was uncluttered, where everything had a place

  • Included items of furniture that I had been involved with buying, and that were to my tastes too

  • Had a fresh coat of paint after not being painted since the house had been built

  • Had some kind of underlying theme with items that meant something to me

  • Felt inspiring

  • Had a sense of space and was fairly simple in layout, making it easier to keep clean and tidy – especially with two dogs!

Once I had identified what I needed and why, it was a slow burning process of change (as true change tends to be). It is also something that is still in process, especially with a new baby on the scene and all the chaos and stuff that goes with that! However, I really feel that over the past year, a huge leap (or several small steps) forward has been made which has resulted in a happier, healthier home which feels just like that…our home.

I should point out that this transformation was in no way planned from the outset. Instead, it was a natural progression from one thing to the next, which was then helped along once we knew there was a baby on the way and we suddenly became consumed with ‘getting things done’.

In summer 2018, we took advantage of the forced time spent inside and had a big declutter. I like to think of this as phase one, as there were several other decluttering sessions that followed on from this. I focused on my own things at first, as these had really built up over the years. Gradually, my husband did the same, although a lot of his stuff simply got moved to the garage.

Once things were slightly more organised, I turned my thoughts to painting the house. The walls were that weird magnolia shade that just looked dirty, and our house does not offer much in the way of natural light, so I chose a neutral, fresh white colour with the odd subtle feature wall. These tended to be very light greys and greens, apart from in the kitchen where I used a darker green because I wanted to contrast the white wooden cabinet against the wall. Yes, there was a lot of disruption getting the entire house painted at once (this had always put me off in the past) but it was so worth it when we finally got it done in October 2018.

The next natural step was to sort out our sofa and chairs. Whilst they were incredibly comfortable, my husband had had them since the early 2000s, and what was once supposed to be a terracotta colour had faded to a rather grim shade of orange. I had discovered that I loved neutral palettes, instead preferring to add colour through accessories, so the seating definitely needed to change! We did not want to reinvest in a new sofa however, so opted to have them recovered in a light grey colour instead.

As the walls had now been painted, it was time to add interest through shelves, pictures and accessories that meant something to both of us, yet still looked nice. In the hallway, I placed a mirror over the circuit box (something that was easy to remove when we needed access) and used an Ikea shoe cabinet as a practical yet attractive feature. I placed a few objects on top and added black and white photos of us and our dogs. Immediately, the space felt much more homely!

I naturally gravitated towards light green and gold accessories, so placed these on the two Ikea ‘Lack’ shelves that I had put up on the light grey wall in the living room. This acted as a nice contrast and again added a sense of belonging.

Another decluttering round took place (mainly getting rid of stuff that we were unsure of last time) before we worked on the guest bedroom, since Christmas was approaching, and my sister was due to stay with us! We kept this very simple and just added a rug, another Ikea shelf with some décor and a mirror above it, plus some cushions and a picture of a native New Zealand Tui bird above the bed. We later added a bedside table on each side. The theme of light green hues prevailed in this room too, which was nice as it made the house feel like a whole entity.

Then came some news that really spurred us on: I was pregnant! Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like the thought of a baby on the way to scare/shock you into action! For years, we had debated renovating our kitchen, but had always put it off due to the sheer disruption involved, not to mention the cost. However, we realised that if we did go ahead with the renovations, it would have to be NOW or a couple of years down the line. We took the plunge and created my husband’s vision of a gorgeous space that will be perfect for outdoor/indoor living in the winter months, as well as for entertaining and creating delicious meals. I’m so happy we did it, even though it was stressful at times.

With the kitchen looking so good, and me now being in full nesting mode, it was time to rethink the living room a little. In my opinion, we weren’t making the most of the space, so one night (why do we always start these things at night?!) we moved the furniture around to create a much nicer environment. It’s amazing how such a simple change has had such a big effect on the overall ‘feel’ of the space.

Finally, it was time to start working on the nursery. This was something that we had never envisaged doing, but it was certainly the perfect opportunity to actually make something of a store room/gym, even though the baby wouldn’t be in there for a while. Naturally, it began with another declutter as we needed to make space for all of the stuff that had accumulated in there…or simply get rid of it. I sold a lot of stuff via various Facebook groups, and also bought a Pottery Barn crib second hand, replacing the mattress with a new one.

As we didn’t know whether we were having a girl or a boy, we once again kept everything neutral in light green and grey. My main aim was to create a calm and relaxing space which our child could grow into and make his or her own. Simply adding a rug, some cute animal prints from Etsy, and a couple of shelves made for a light, airy space that is perfect for quiet (or not so quiet) moments.

There are still things we need to work on, but for now we are incredibly happy with the house; how it flows and how it makes us feel. I now feel calmer, more focused and am happy to work from home as the environment is conducive to being productive. Similarly, my husband loves returning from trips away to a place that is generally clean, tidy and organised. Moreover, taking a greater ‘ownership’ of the house has really helped me to feel secure, and has given me a greater sense of belonging.

Our future projects will be to renovate the ensuites and to make the landing area a nicer space. We also need to rethink our garden, as when we designed it dogs and children were not on the horizon! It needs to be easier to maintain, and above all, safe for when the little one starts moving about.

How to make small changes in your own home

Whilst the changes we made were quite dramatic and took over a year, there are plenty of smaller things you can do which will have an immediate effect on your home environment. Try some of these tips and let me know if they help:

  • Decluttering is all the rage now, and with good reason. You can be as extreme as you like, but many find that with each bag of items donated or sold, a weight feels as though it has been lifted. Creating space in the home feels as though you’re somehow creating space in your mind, allowing for greater creativity and focus in day to day life, not to mention making it easier to keep on top of the cleaning.

  • Rearrange your space. Experiment with layouts to ensure you’re making the most of the space you have. Do you feel like you’re confined to a corner when you could be using the whole room?

  • Adding new cushions, throws, rugs and other décor items is a good way to get a fresh perspective on your home without having to invest too much money. Print some photos or find digital downloads on Etsy, stick them in a frame and see how your wall – and home – transforms.

  • Add some greenery. Green is a calming colour linked to balance and nature. If you’re green fingered, add some plants, and if you’re not, invite other elements of green into your home for a similar effect.

How a Health Coach can help in terms of home environment

Whilst you may not initially contact a health coach such as myself because of your home environment, you may discover, through working with one, that your home environment needs some attention in order to help you move forward in other areas of your life.

For example, your creativity, relationships and home cooking can be strongly linked to your home environment. Each client will assess his or her satisfaction with their home environment when working on their health and wellness goals, and it may be that you need some guidance in this area.

Always remember that lifestyle change can take us down unexpected paths, and that the main aim is to make progress, rather than focusing on perfection. I hope that these coming articles inspire you to think about the many aspects of your life and their impact on your wellbeing. As always, please do get in touch if you feel you would like support. I offer a free initial consultation and am available online. You can learn more here – I’d love to hear from you!

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Learn more about working with me as your coach, be it for lifestyle, running or both. If you are feeling like I once did, regardless of where you live, your age or your level of fitness, I would love for you to get in touch to find out how you can turn things around by setting small, achievable goals.

I can’t promise you the perfect life, but I can certainly help you to progress in the right direction.

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