Give Lindsey Herod the chance to paint your bookshelves and she’s likely to suggest peacock blue in a super glossy finish. If you’re going to go, go big. Right?
The interior designer — principal at Lindsey Herod Interiors, which she founded in 2015 — sees happiness in the elements of our . After all, considering how much time we spend in our homes, shouldn’t they be sources of joy and energy, she asks.
Herod, a Houston native and Texas A&M University graduate who worked under renowned interior designer Celerie Kemble in New York for five years, believes that a happy, beautiful environment affects your emotional and physical well-being.
But, perhaps most importantly, “happy” means different things to different people. So, a stressed-out executive might take pleasure in a home that’s calm and serene, bathed in pale neutrals. A young sophisticate might prefer bold colors in a setting meant for entertaining. And a young family might thrive on functional design that helps them stay organized.
Herod offers these eight tips for creating a level of happiness in your own home.
Marie Kondo may have us all asking ourselves if our belongings bring us joy, and Herod does, too. She said she asks her clients about their likes and dislikes to know what to keep, what to work around and what to get rid of. Any home design project, she said, should start with an evaluation of what you have and how you want your home to look and feel.
2. Use your things
When you own nice things or things you love — regardless of their actual value — don’t be afraid to use them. Don’t lock the good china, crystal and silver away, only to be used on special occasions. Consider every day as a special one and use them.
Herod mentioned a family member who owned some nice silver pieces and gave them away because she didn’t want to have to polish them. They’re in Herod’s home now, and she uses them and does the work to keep them nice. “Things that are worth it take a little bit of effort,” she said.
That even applies to where you place furniture.
Herod mentioned her great-grandmother’s secretary desk, which had been in her parents’ bedroom for as long as she could remember. The piece was beautiful, but few people ever got to see it because of where they kept it. When they moved it to a more public room, everyone got to enjoy the piece every day.
3. Practical solutions
Staying organized sometimes takes constant effort. A family with children or even a multigenerational household needs organizational tools to get through the day and be able to find what they need when they need it. Create a system that works for you and is as detailed or casual as you like.
Herod cited one client who labeled shelves, down to the type of stemware that should be in each row, so that people could help her clean up after parties and know where to put everything. She actually had brass labels engraved and attached to the ends of shelves.
If that sounds excessive, consider color coding or at least keeping like items in the same drawer or cabinet, she said.
Creating a single drop zone is one way to keep clutter from taking over your home. It’s the place, usually inside the door you most often enter your home, where you drop your keys, handbag, briefcase or backpack. Instead of creating a pile of clutter on a kitchen island or dinner table, a convenient but out-of-sight spot keeps unsightly piles at bay.
Homes filled with pale neutrals fill HGTV shows and home magazines, but color is one way to evoke feelings and create dimension, richness and texture, said Herod, who is known for her classic and color-filled designs.
Even within color palettes, different shades can work in different homes: light blue brings a sense of calmness, cobalt is vibrant and a high-gloss teal adds glamour and sex appeal.
Even if you don’t want bold, colorful walls, use color in smaller ways within each room, she said.
5. Making old, new
You’ll likely never see a project that Herod handles without a few pieces that are vintage or antique. Old things add a bit of history and give a room or home a collected or curated feel. They also play big in her designs.
In her own home, Herod has her grandparents’ sofa and two chairs — all of it reupholstered. Not only does she think of her grandparents when she uses the items, but she has the satisfaction of knowing that she found a new purpose for things that were made well and made to last.
That leads to another issue, which is making things usable in your home. Old things don’t have to look old — you can change out hardware, add a new stain or paint or reupholster in fabrics and colors you like.
A room isn’t finished until it has some art. It’s a topic that’s both necessary and scary. Everyone loves art, but buying and collecting can be intimidating. Establish a budget and buy what you like; if looking at it moves you, it’s a winner.
Herod said she and her husband started their own art collection on advice from her mentor, Houston interior designer Cortnay Elias of Creative Tonic. Elias told Herod that every year she and her husband buy a piece of art as an anniversary gift; now, Herod and her husband do, too.
7. Living things
Every home should have something green, and by “green,” she means plants. Living or dried, having a plant brings a little bit of the outdoors inside. Plants have real effects: they improve air quality and physical health, and they look good, too.
Herod keeps a fiddle leaf fig named “Fitzgerald” in her office and said no one should let not having a green thumb keep you from having a plant. Set a schedule for watering your plant and stick to it; it really doesn’t take that long.
If that doesn’t work, set out a vase of fresh flowers now and then. You’ll be surprised at how much they’ll cheer you up.
8. Finally, relax:
Don’t get stressed out about your home looking perfect. Homes are meant to be lived in, not just looked at. So remember that life isn’t perfect and most days, your home isn’t either.