Ellen Kennon's pale yellow "Classic Marc" paint color evokes a sense of serenity even in this city setting. Photos courtesy Ellen Kennon.

A color expert’s top design tips for creating a relaxing home

Your home is your sanctuary—your place to unwind after the chaos of the day. That’s why it’s so important to create a space that is relaxing and comforting. Incorporating wellness into your interior design isn’t new, but as our lives get more and more hectic, designing a space that relieves stress takes on a new importance. With a vision of a more peaceful environment in mind, we asked St. Francisville-based interior designer and color expert Ellen Kennon for her tips on how to create a private refuge:

Consider color.

Wall color is one of the most impactful ways to change the energy of your space—after all, it takes up the most real estate. Kennon suggests employing the theories of color therapy and incorporating cool, natural hues to create a soothing atmosphere in the bedroom, or leaning into pinks to create a warm, nurturing feeling.

“The most powerful element you can work with is color, for several reasons,” Kennon says. “Color affects our emotions and our well-being.”


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Lean into lighting.

It’s impossible to talk about the importance of color without mentioning the importance of lighting. Natural light will reign supreme because that’s what the eye is meant to process, but Kennon says the second-best option is a variety of different light sources. Sitting under fluorescents in the office all day can be draining for your eyes, so coming home to warmer-toned lamps and fixtures can help you relax. Multiple light sources can help reduce strain and fill your house with a glow rather than a glaring stream.

Reduce clutter.

As we learned from Marie Kondo, clutter is the enemy. Organizing your home and displaying beautiful art instead of a perpetual pile of mail on the counter reduces stress and instantly creates a peaceful environment. Kennon recommends decluttering and putting your closets to use, as well as incorporating multi-use furniture if you work from home. A dining room doing double duty as an office is convenient, but stowing your work materials on your days off can allow you to disconnect and switch focus. “When you organize things, then you’re creating order, and order creates harmony,” she says.

Incorporate nature.

The use of natural colors, materials and motifs instantly puts one’s mind at ease. Kennon says to think of the place you feel most at peace—the beach, for example, or deep in the forest—and bring that into your home. Wood grain, deep greens, natural textures and even blue ceilings can help center you and relax your mind. “Since nature is so healing, if you start with whatever environment that you really like, it really makes you feel calm,” she says.


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Evoke emotion.

This is Kennon’s top tip–to tap into the things that truly create a sense of happiness within you. If you decorate your home with items and colors that bring you joy, the energy will come through and you will create a space you’re comfortable in. “I’ve always said that it’s not how a place looks,” she says. “When you photograph a room for a magazine, it’s how it feels—it’s all about the feeling.”

For more on Kennon and her designs, visit ellenkennon.com.