Oasis in the City: making your home a retreat

When living in a wonderful but often stressful city like Shanghai, having a place of sanctuary to call home is top of most people’s priorities but how easy is it to achieve calm and relaxation amidst the mayhem? Living in rented properties (as most expats do) presents certain limits but there are still plenty of ways to create a soothing home that encourages relaxation or lively family activities, the perfect antidote to life in the city.




Tips for creating your happier, calmer home:

  • Detox your home! This might seem an overwhelming task but by starting and finishing one room at a time you’ll soon feel the satisfaction that’ll motivate you to keep going. Fact: clutter, mess and too many possessions weigh us down emotionally.


  • Think about contrast, it’s what brings an interior to life so think about each of your rooms and how to add interest through contrasts that will excitevisually. Layering contrasting fabrics and materials is often overlooked when thinking about the home, experiment and have fun!


  • Colours have a huge effect on our mood and are used throughouzen1t the interior design industry to help create desired atmospheres in spaces. Cool pastel shades of blue and green in the bedroom promote sleep and relaxation whilst stronger warm shades like reds and oranges are great in dining areas to prompt lively conversation. 


  • What smells do you and your family like? Can you reproduce them in your home with essential oils? Experiment with an oil burner and ask family members to comment on which ones they love. 


  • Fill your home with plants and flowers. With real nature in short supply, plants and flowers bring life into your home and some plants even possess the added benefit of cleaning the air. Fresh flowers add colour and scent and are a pleasure to behold. Choose colours to complement your room schemes.


  • Bake or cook tastes of home. What can be more comforting than the smell of freshly cooked or baked foods that bring back memories of home, childhood or lovely family holidays? Smell is the strongest memory trigger so make time at the weekends to spend in the kitchen lovingly preparing food to feed and nourish the family.  


  • Treat your bedroom as a place of relaxation, not just for sleeping. Your bed linen is important too, have good quality warm covers in the Winter and cooling linen in the Summer if you can, bed linen is one area not to save money. A big comfortable bed is a great place to hang out, even with the whole family! 


A relaxing home is one that excites ALL your senses. How we see, feel, smell and even taste our homes has a huge impact on how we experience the spaces we spend time in. “Home is where the Heart is” so put your heart into making your home the best it can be… Incorporating all or some of these tips into your home and lives will encourage a harmonious family life where happiness and joy abound!

Claire Schoch grew up on the South coast of England, lived in Germany for eight years before arriving in Shanghai ten years ago. She is a qualified interior designer, masseuse and life coach and is currently studying further subjects of interest including yoga, nutrition, Indian head massage and aromatherapy.

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