During the winter months, many of us hibernate. I know for about 2-3 months in the deep, dark winter, I don’t even see my neighbors. We all scurry from our cozy homes to our cars, huddled against the blowing winds and snow. If you are similarly trapped inside, your home should be your safe place. A place of calm that causes a sigh of relief to escape the minute you walk across the threshold. Of course, with children and pets this might seem impossible…but I am sharing some easy ways to make your home feel like a sanctuary this winter!
Neutralize Pet Odors
My parents have a cat, which is very different in terms of smell than a dog. Dogs drool, roll around in things they shouldn’t, and mine, in particular, has a massive mess of fuzz that traps odors. I was never a dog person before I had my own dog because I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and couldn’t stand the scent of a dog. I thought that if I got my own dog their smell wouldn’t bother me. I realized, though, that it still does- my home doesn’t feel fresh and clean if I can smell anything but those clean, fresh smells!
I would wash my dog daily if I could, but it is too tough on her skin. The issue with many air fresheners is that they aren’t safe to use directly on your pet. Most are designed to spray on plush surfaces…which means your pet lays on them and they get stinky again. I heard about a new local company called Scentsational Pets. They created an odor-neutralizing spray that was meant for both animals and the surfaces they snuggle, so I asked for a sample to try.
I love the back story- Keeley Kossof (yes, of the hair salon Teddy Kossof…she is the daughter) developed a refresher fragrance for women to use on their hair. She met Lori Cooper, and together they created Scentsational Pets, using the same spray for pets! The spray has been obviously tested on humans, and won’t harm your furry friend if licked or swallowed. Plus- it isn’t just for dogs. All pets with fur can benefit (and so can your noses). I remember having a rabbit and whew!
I used it on my Australian Labradoodle Ginger in between baths and it made a huge difference. I also sprayed it on our rug where she lays as well as fabric chairs.
The scent lasts for up to 48 hours, all types are odor neutralizing:
Best in Show– infused with rosewater and coconut oil, moisturizes and conditions while adding luster and shine
Peaceful Pet– soothing and calming, improves sleep quality with lavender and aloe (I sprayed this in Ginger’s crate because she gets anxiety at night, plus it smells amazing)
Fresh Fur Sure– refreshing citrus scent, adds shine and conditions with citrus essential oils
My favorite is the Peaceful Pet since I use an oil diffuser at my home desk with lavender oil. The scents all blend together to make your home feel like a sanctuary away from the craziness of the outside world (or kids play areas). I just received this essential oil diffuser for the holidays- at $14.99, it does everything the crazy expensive ones do. If you are looking for something a little more design-friendly, Design Accents makes this chic pineapple one!
High-Quality Bedding and Pillows
I have stayed at a few not-so-high-class establishments in my life, especially in my 20s. We used to rent a hotel room and pack in as many people as we could, caring most about the cost vs. comfort. I have had my share of sleepless nights with sheets that feel like cardboard, and yes, it affects your slumber. Also, pillows are SO important- I can’t stand it when my head is resting on a pillow that is about an inch thick and I wake up with a crick in my neck.
A new bed might not be within your budget, but new sheets, a mattress topper and a pillow tailored to your needs are more within reach. You know that feeling when you slip into slightly cool, crisp, clean sheets and a perfectly plump pillow? Bliss. Since we spend on average 1/3 of our lifetime in bed, an investment in these products is worthwhile so high quality is key.
I was introduced to Naturepedic recently and am totally on board with all things bed that are natural and organic. You are touching and breathing near your bed, sheets, and pillow for 6-9 hours every day. If these items contain harmful or even toxic chemicals, how do you think that affects your body?
Naturepedic is a line of organic, healthy beds and bed-related products for the entire family. The National Sleep Foundation recommends replacing your mattress approximately every 8 years. The Better Sleep Council recommends replacing every 7-10. If you are within that range or close to it, check out Naturepedic’s line of organic mattresses. Not there but still want to make your home feel like a sanctuary? They carry organic mattress toppers and luxe 400 thread count organic cotton sheets.
Need a new pillow? I have honestly gone through two dozen pillows over the past 5 years, none of which have provided the support and comfort I need to get a good night’s sleep. I am going to try Naturepedic’s new 2 in 1 Customizable Organic Latex Pillow– it lets you adjust the amount of fill you need to keep comfy.
Make Some Noise
Every single person in my home uses a white noise machine, and we even take them with us when we travel. I will use the White Noise app in a pinch, but it doesn’t produce the same sound quality as the machine. Our favorite is the Marpac Dohm Classic– it uses a real fan inside to create the noise instead of an electronic “noise track.”
You can also add rugs to hardwood floors to provide sound absorption and warm floors. Also- rooms without furniture echo, so find some pieces to fill the space if your room is fairly empty. A cozy reading chair, a desk with a stool, anything to make the room more functional and welcoming! And of course…quiet.
DIY Coffee in the Morning
I adore my morning coffee, and I am often an earlier riser than others. I have been at friends’ homes before where they have a coffee maker that is so darn confusing or loud (they only have whole beans that have to be ground?!). The morning struggle is real for someone who needs their fix. But who wants two separate machines- one for K-cups and one for a coffee pot?
I received the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew system last year and it has been a game-changer. I love to wake up at 6am, check emails, and sip coffee in silence during the week. On the weekends, we like to make a pot of coffee to share. This takes up much less counter space than two separate machines. I don’t like the Keurig brand brewers because they only allow you to use their own brand of K-cups. This machine allows the use of regular grounds for single-serve, K-cups, generic cups, and grounds for the full pot.
Set out coffee mugs the night before and keep coffee accouterments front and center in the fridge. I am a fan of insulated mugs that have a travel top. This way, they feel more like a regular mug but can be covered up to prevent spills and stay warmer longer. GOOD coffee tops my gratitude list on the regular, so this is definitely a way to make your home feel like a sanctuary if you feel the same!
Supply Guests with Essentials
I despise asking people for anything when I am staying at their house. I mean, they are already letting me stay, right? I don’t want to overstep. The worst is when everyone is asleep and you are heading to bed, ready to take out your contacts. You realize you forgot contact solution and have to dunk your lenses in tap water (avoid if at all possible). By supplying your guests with a basket of basics you can help them feel more comfortable if they were a little careless when packing. And it can avoid them waking you up in the middle of the night when they need your Wifi password.
Here are the things that I recommend. You don’t need to have single-use items, even though they are usually cuter. Most guests won’t even use what you provide, so this compilation can last for years:
- Contact solution & case
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Facial wipes/makeup remover
- Feminine products
- Wifi password on a card
- Blow dryer
- Hair tie
- Headache medicine
- Bottle of water
- Snacks like fresh fruit or granola bars
- Robe & slippers
- Phone charger- I have this one that works with most phone brands, is portable and plugs into the wall to charge. Plus, you don’t need any cords!
- Plastic re-sealable baggies (because I always need those!)
Display Reading Materials and Entertainment
I read every night before bed without fail. During the day, however, I don’t have the time to crack open a novel. I love having coffee table books lying out to provide brief brain breaks for myself. This is a way to make your home feel like a sanctuary- have little bits of distraction or relaxation to provide a respite from the multitude of tasks that come with maintaining a household.
One of my favorite books is Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 off the World’s Greatest Trips. A friend of mine gifted this to me for my birthday because she knows I have an overflow of wanderlust. It is by National Geographic, so the photographs are outstanding. Another friend gifted me a book about New Orleans, which was the location of our last girls trip. I love having books that inspire as well as ones that keep the memories alive!
You can also have small games set out on the coffee table or ottoman. I snagged this idea from my playful friend Meredith Sinclair, author of the book Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit. Set out joke books, a beautiful bowl filled with Jenga pieces, or a box of trivia cards. Taking a break from your routine breaks up that monotony.
Sometimes I am STARVING in the mornings and I can’t even think about what to eat. I could snag a KIND bar on my way out the door, but honestly…that is a mindless meal because I cram it in my mouth without even enjoying it. When I am at a B&B or all-inclusive hotel, I feel more calm, relaxed and ready to tackle the day knowing that breakfast is ready when I am.
I will say that when I have breakfast made and ready for my kids in the morning it cuts down on the general chaos during the school days. Everyone is more calm, relaxed and kind when I am!
Here are some ideas to have ready for the mornings that include healthy ingredients and make your home feel like a sanctuary:
- Pre-washed and cut fruit in individual storage containers paired with yogurt and a sprinkle of granola
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Breakfast quesadilla (my kids LOVE these and they are portable!); simply whip an egg or two in a bowl, pour into a pan, then top with a tortilla when eggs start to cook. Flip, top half with cheese and fold in half. Continue cooking until eggs are no longer runny. You can add diced ham, veggies, etc…
- Blueberry oat breakfast bars
- Pre-made smoothies; find recipes here or buy in the freezer department at your grocery store
- Freezer breakfast sandwiches– healthier than McD’s
- Baked Oatmeal Cups
Cheers to making your home a welcome respite from the chaos of life, at least for a little bit!
Disclosure: I was provided with samples of some products for review purposes; all opinions are honest and my own as always.