Our Home, Our Sanctuary

With the country in lockdown (jeez, it is so surreal to even be writing this) our homes have become, more than ever, our place of comfort and protection. In light of this, I thought I would share some of my thoughts of how we can stay positive at this uncertain time and make our home our sanctuary.

Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day

Setting a daily intent makes a huge difference. Your daily intent could be something like “be productive” or “enjoy today’s precious moments” or it could be something more specific like “say thank you to my loved ones today.” But it should not be another “to do” item on your list.

Display meaningful objects

A home is a place where you are comfortable and feel as if you can be yourself. It should hold items that you love and have meaning to you. This could be in the form of photographs, ornaments, paintings, prints or artwork by your children. Reach for them now – go and get them out of the loft if need be! As they will help to evoke happy memories and provide you with a focus for distraction.

Real Homes

Show your personality

Sit down and make a list of everything that makes you happy. Take a look at your list and incorporate those things into your home. Whether it’s paintings of mountains or the colour orange, placing things around your house that reflect your personality will make you happier to live in the space.

Organise your desk so it’s facing a window

As many of us are working from home for the foreseeable future, I thought this was a good point to share. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, Feng Shui experts believe that having your desk face a wall thwarts creativity and concentration levels. Think of the expression: “I’ve hit a wall.” We say this when we mean, “I can’t go any further; I’m stuck.” The creative channels are blocked. A wall in front of you with your back to the open room can make you feel subconsciously exposed or insecure; no one can concentrate fully this way, and often work performance suffers.

The second reason is that exposure to natural light during the day has been proven to make you more alert and engaged.

Lumina Images / Getty Images

Scent your home with candles and/or diffusers

For many people, a happy home is a cosy home. So follow the lead of the Danish and add a little Hygge lighting into your home with candles. But while the Danish are said to typically prefer unscented candles, I can’t resist a scented one! Here are some of my favourites.

Apartment Therapy

Dig out the forget-me-nots

Curate a small pile of books you’ve been dying to read (nothing that’s a chore, nothing for work) and keep it somewhere easily visible.


Make something: biscuits, a painting, a mess, anything!

Let fresh air in

There are a range of benefits to getting fresh air. It can help you destress and improve your physical and mental wellbeing.

Bring nature inside

Studies have shown nature to be calming to our psyche, so one way to feel happier in your space is to bring in plants or flowers. Houseplants have the added benefit of helping to refresh the air in a room.

Make from old

Don’t just wish for what you don’t have, look at the things you do have and use them in a new way. That unloved bottle of booze and tin of Amaretti biscuits never opened can be made into a dessert.

Recipe by Diana Henry from the January 2014 issue of House & Garden

Be a ‘switcher-upper’!

Rearrange or replace decorations. Give your home a rejig by moving items to other locations, giving it a whole new look!


Listen to music more – sound can be one of the most evocative memories. Check out SWNS Digital’s post on their list of the ‘top 30 songs Brits play to keep calm’ linked here.

SWNS Digital

Call/FaceTime at least one friend or family member a day

We humans are social beings. Not being able to physically interact with our friends and loved ones, could prove extremely difficult for us. Studies show that socialising with our loved ones provides sources of support, reduces stress, combats depression and generally makes us feel better. If we cannot physically interact with one another right now, then we should utilise technology to ensure we can keep in contact.

Alto Images/Stocksy

Start a one-line-a-day gratitude journal

Before bed, simply jot down one happy memory from that day. If you have children, you can ask them, “What was the best part of today?”. Reflection is an important part of happiness and pausing to reflect on a positive event from each day cultivates gratitude. After our first official day of remote home schooling on Monday, my boys both said to me that they had “so much fun” and that their day went by so much quicker compared to when they are at school!

Our happy memories from each day may seem small and insignificant compared to our previous experiences and some days will be harder than others, but they are so so powerful regardless. How ever small, ensure you cherish them.


Use light well

Psychologists have long known that light has an effect on our emotions. The brightness and colour of light directly affects our mood. Blue light can increase productivity, bright light can heighten emotions and natural light can boost happiness.

Enjoy your own outside space

For those of us lucky enough to have it, try to embrace your indoor-outdoor living space. Mix up the norm of evening cooking by getting the bbq lit and cook outside! Throw on a blanket and get cosy around a wood burning stove.

Rowen & Wren

Make the bedroom a retreat

Our mood improves when we wake up “on the right side of the bed” after a good night’s sleep. There are many steps you can take to make your bedroom your ultimate sleep and relaxation temple. Here are my top tips;

  • Natural fibres for your bedding (cotton, linen etc) – less itchy and more breathable
  • Fresh sheets – wash them once a week or every other week
  • Black out curtains/blinds to ensure you are not woken at 4am during the summer months!
  • No tech allowed – refrain from using your phone!!
  • Your favourite candle or diffuser
  • Make comfort a priority – a rug over floorboards to make the space feel cosy, an end of bed blanket, some soft pillows etc
  • Lighting – soft lighting is key to make the space feel calm and relaxing.
  • Have a bath before bed
  • Play some chilled music

Celebrate for the sake of it

Have a glass of something special on a Tuesday night. Those ‘special occasions’ don’t come along enough!

Our first meal in our newly renovated house, February 2017

Enjoy your home

Make the most of every inch. Cook in your kitchen. Soak in your bathtub. Eat at the table. Read in a sunny corner. Sit by the fire. Enjoy your home!

I hope these points were helpful in some way. Stay safe people. And stay in touch with each other. x



  1. Nadia
    March 25, 2020 / 7:18 am

    Thank you SJ for helping with your tips for getting us through this awful time in all our lives. You are such an inspiration. Stay safe and well look after your beautiful family x

    • justalittlebuild
      March 25, 2020 / 7:28 am

      Thanks Nadia, and the same to you x

  2. Debbie
    March 25, 2020 / 8:10 am

    Enjoy your home…….love this, and going to put into practice today. We are 12months into a move and still got a lot to do in most rooms. There are areas that are done but on reflection we aren’t enjoying often enough. This might make me feel more at home too…still miss our previous place. Keep the inspo coming SJ and keep safe x

  3. Aoife Duignan
    March 25, 2020 / 9:00 am

    A really enjoyable read! Food for thought!Thank you. Wishing you and your family well.
    Aoife x

  4. Amanda
    March 25, 2020 / 12:46 pm

    A great read SJ, thank you for the great tips! I really enjoyed reading this and will be putting these ideas into practice! Keep well.
    Amanda x

    • justalittlebuild
      March 25, 2020 / 12:52 pm

      Ah, really pleased!

  5. Tracy jones
    March 25, 2020 / 5:15 pm

    Thank you for such a positive post xx

  6. Emer
    March 28, 2020 / 12:39 pm

    follow you on Instagram love your blog too

  7. Jane Sayer
    June 27, 2020 / 9:59 pm


    Love your style! Could you let me know where your rug is from in the lounge?

    Thank you!

    • justalittlebuild
      July 6, 2020 / 6:24 am

      Hi, thanks! The rug is from John Lewis x

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