7 ways to create retreat style living at home

- April 22, 2020 8 MIN READ

As Aussies our need to seek travel and adventures beyond our own backyard is ingrained in our DNA. Yet in these unprecedented times our life-style has been flipped instantaneously, now spending every waking hour at home. Working, isolating, schooling the kids, holidays… are all happening at home. So, how can we continue to thrive with this new way of life? By bringing those holiday vibes into our homes and creating a retreat style sanctuary to enjoy everyday

At The Retreat Stylist we work with holiday property owners to transform their home’s interior into retreat style living for style savvy holiday makers, so we know a thing or two about the importance of creating a haven at home.  And as lovers of being immersed in nature with our own tribe, we understand first-hand how the environment that surrounds us dictates how we show up in the world. So, our wish for you is that by creating a retreat style interior at home, you will feel uplifted with positive vibes that will enable you and your family to thrive during these unprecedented times.

  Our top 7 tips for creating retreat style living at your place are totally achievable, won’t break the bank and will reward you tenfold for your efforts.  So, let’s get to it and do all we can together to create your own sanctuary at home #strongertogether!

Discover your own interior style

If you imagine your favourite place in the world, how does it look and make you feel?  To help you uncover your interior style, hop over to Instagram and Pinterest and scroll and screen shot your favourite images.  Or grab a few of your favourite interior magazines for inspiration – our favourite is Home Beautiful which features a selection of stunning homes to wow at in each issue. Of course, you can also use your own pictures from your travels that give you those holiday feels and memories that light you up.  

Next, narrow down your selections to your top 10 images and then use an online Moodboard tool (I love Canva!) to layout your interior inspo.  You’ll start to see a style emerge… it could be coastal, scandi, minimal, tropical, traditional, pops of colour, neutral colours, a mix of patterns etc.  Add a title to your Moodboard to reflect that style (eg. Contemporary Scandi). If you already have a pretty good handle on your preferred style, use this exercise to collect inspo images of items for each room in your home that align to your interior style.  There is no right or wrong here, so long as it is cohesive and you love it! Your Moodboard will now form the basis for all your interior styling decisions you’ll be making through the next 6 steps.

Room by room priorities

This is the tedious bit in the process… but stay with me because it’s totally worth it for the end result!  Grab a pen and a few sheets of paper. Use a page per room and draw a line down the middle and pop on top the headings ‘Things I love’ and ‘Things I hate’.  Take your time and when you have no distractions, wander from room to room, sit in the space and take a look around. Note down the things you enjoy about the room (for example: loads of natural light, high ceilings, furniture placement, wall colour) and the things that really annoy you! (for example: messy/cluttered, no cohesive colour scheme, lack of storage, furniture that doesn’t work together, no light, low energy etc).

Now consider each room and the things you’ve recorded and ask yourself ‘how do I want to feel in this space’ and ‘what are 5 things that could help me achieve this feeling’.  Imagine for now that you aren’t constrained by time or budget. This will help you to prioritise the top 5 things that will become your focus for creating that retreat style feeling at home.  Of course, depending on how long your list is, you can come back to the list and get stuck in to the next 5 things at a later date. As you consider your priorities, also think about the spaces you spend the most time in – these are the rooms to transform first. Usually for our clients this is the living room, master bedroom and kid’s rooms.  Now you have your list of priorities room by room, ready to give your home a retreat style make over! 

Get your ‘Marie Kondo’ on and declutter

When life throws you oodles of time, there’s no excuse for clutter.  I’m totally aware though that just the mention of a decluttering project can feel totally overwhelming (yup I often freak out at the mess around here too)!  So, let me ease your need to throw your arms in the air in exasperation at such an awful suggestion… as Marie Kondo says ‘tidying is a tool, not the final destination’!  And so, to achieve your retreat style sanctuary at home, first we all need to find a hidden love for tidying. Not only will decluttering leave space for the things in your environment that will ignite your soul, it will also fill you with an enormous sense of achievement.  And we can all do with a little of that at the moment.

So, here’s how to get this decluttering project ticked off.  First, take everything out of the room that hasn’t been used in the last year, nor brings you joy (as per Marie Kondo’s ethos!).  Box up things for the rubbish/recycling, things to be donated and things to keep. Now considering your Moodboard and the feeling you wish to create in the room, only place back those things that align with your vision.  And be sure to pause when there is just enough in the space to make it feel uplifting. If there are a few items that have missed out, you can either find a home for them in another room, or store them and swap them in 6 months or so to create a new ‘look’ in the room. 

Bring nature indoors

Enliven your home with plenty of greenery and future you will thank you!  Creating a lush sanctuary and bringing nature indoors makes for a healthy home – you will feel instantly invigorated and connected to nature.  Plants are natural air filters as they absorb the carbon dioxide we breathe out and release oxygen which we in turn need to breathe, and so the more plants you have in your home, the cleaner the air you breathe. Not only are they great air filters (also removing harmful pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde and ammonia), but they are proven mood improvers too.  Being surrounded by plants has also been found to increase productivity and wellbeing in the workplace, so why not bring a little nature indoors at home too.  

When choosing your plant gang, be sure to select varieties that suit the growing conditions in each room, considering available natural light and the temperature of the room.  Choose plants that offer variation in leaf shape and colour and look out for varieties that are easy to propagate – so your plant gang can multiply without additional investment.

Have fun with pot selection and create visual interest by grouping a few plants together in pots of various heights or by placing them on stands.  I usually like to group plants in 3’s as this is most pleasing to the eye. If you have an empty corner or space beside a larger item of furniture, choose a feature pot and plant with scale to fill the void and add wow factor in the room.  Our friends at Ivy Muse in Armadale are my favourite store for stunning designer pots and stands. They also provide expert knowledge on plant selection and an in-home plant styling service (now available via Skype) helping you to choose a plant gang that suits your home environment and preferred interior style.

Select art to ignite your soul

Blank walls should be illegal in my book!  If your home has a vast blank wall looking for a little inspiration, now is the perfect time to add some art to compliment your interior style.  We are spoilt here in Australia to have so many talented creatives in our thriving artist community, so choosing an original ‘one-of-a-kind’ painting is now more affordable than ever.  Many artists also offer limited edition prints of their original artwork for entry level collectors too. A great resource for choosing the perfect artwork that resonates with you is BlueThumb Gallery, Australia’s largest online gallery representing Australian Artists.  

If you have existing art that you just love or holds special memories, but doesn’t suit your preferred interior style, then a great way to update it is to have it reframed.  If the scale is out of proportion for its new location, then team it up with a selection of new artworks to create a gallery wall. Mixing sizes and frame styles can add a point of interest too and you may like to consider introducing a colour theme – either with an existing artwork, pulling a colour or two from it as inspiration for the colours of the new pieces, or choose a tonal colour scheme and only select artwork that features those tones.  A gallery wall need not be limited to artwork… add some items that hold special memories too like a family heirloom dining plate, woven basket or timber sculpture from far flung places you’ve visited, or a favourite photograph of a memorable moment in time with family or friends. 

And finally, consider if the art is to be the focal point and WOW factor in the room, or a subtle addition in a smaller vignette.   Many artists are painting smaller studies of their works and these pieces can make a lovely addition to a desk for some daily inspiration, or placed leaning on a shelf with a few of your other favourite items grouped together.  The secret to a sweet little ‘shelfie’ is to choose pieces that complement each other in colour yet offer variation in height, shape and texture.

Create layers : colour, texture and scale

The secret sauce for creating an interior that feels well resolved is to include layers of colour, texture and scale within each space.  This ensures visual appeal and a sense of calm between all the elements.

Choose a colour scheme that resonates with you and links to your inspiration Moodboard.  Use a cool colour palette of blues and greens to create a sense of calm by reflecting nature, or use a warm colour scheme to energise you.  For example in a Contemporary Scandi interior with retreat style vibes, I’d recommend a colour scheme that’s fresh, light and bright with mid to light greys, soft pinks and a pop of colour to add wow factor.  Next add layers of texture by using a selection of materials in the space such as textured fabrics, wool, or leather to add a sense of comfort. Finally, the scale of all the elements should be considered to create harmony, draw your eye around the room and reflect  those retreat style vibes at home.

Organise your work space and thrive

In the current climate as you or your partner transition to working remotely from home, I want to reassure you as a seasoned remote working enthusiast for the past 4 years, it’s totally possible to work from home and thrive!  It’s all about creating an environment that uplifts you and enables you to be productive and organised.

Here at The Retreat Stylist HQ I’m lucky to have a dedicated Studio space, but at home you can set up your own inspired work zone almost anywhere in the house.  The key is to find a spot where distractions are minimal – think a spare bedroom, space in the dining room or near an entry where other occupants move through but don’t spend time there.  To create a tranquil work space at home, first recruit a few of your plant gang – see point 4 above! Then add some inspiration with a mini artwork and light a scented candle to ignite your senses.  Get organised with a few desk essentials such as a pen pot, document tray, phone rest and water jug to keep you hydrated. And finally ensure you review the ergonomics of your set up with your screen at eye level and chair height to allow your elbows to rest at right angles when typing.  Our friends at Signature Wellbeing in Malvern offer a great ergonomic review of your desk via Skype with a qualified Chiropractor who will ensure your set up is perfect for you and will ensure your wellbeing whilst working from home.

As we all bunker down and embrace life at home, now is the time to create retreat style living for enjoyment just as you are.  Embracing those nearest and dearest to you, we hope you’ll be inspired to create a home and remote working environment that will enable you to thrive in these uncertain times – your own retreat style living at home with those everyday holiday vibes!

This post was written by Sarah Elshaug, creative director at The Retreat Stylist,

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