Spring is almost here - and the start of this new season often makes us yearn for clean, calm, refreshed spaces at home.
Amy Brandhorst and Athina Bluff, aka interior design duo Topology, have teamed up with Habitat to share expert tips on how to banish your home's winter hangover and make it warm weather-ready and fabulous.
The stylish pair have taken a lot of inspiration from Feng shui. Although it might sound a tricky concept to get your head around, the traditional Chinese practice basically centres on the belief that the specific arrangement of shapes, furniture and objects can have an effect on the unseen energies around us, and combine to harmonise and balance a space.
Creating a positive home environment, it's believed, benefits our mental and physical health too.
Curious? Follow Topology's seven step home 'detox' plan to create a serene sanctuary that boosts your wellbeing, and where you can relax and look forward to sunnier days ahead...
1. Study the space
As a beginner, it's easiest to kick off your Feng shui mission in either your home office/desk area or your hall, say the two designers. "Placing your desk in the centre of a room or opposite/adjacent to a window, according to the laws of Feng shui, enhances creativity, energy and productivity," they explain.
Apparently, it pays dividends if you blitz that hall as well. After all, if your first sight of home when you get in after a day at the office is a dumping ground for coats, shoes and sports kit, it won't exactly lift your spirits! "Keeping it tidy, spacious and inviting is a great start for good Feng shui and positivity within the home," enthuse the pair.
Cleaning the windows so they let in more light could also be a good move.
2. Follow the three-colour rule
Sticking to a simple colour scheme can prevent your space from feeling chaotic or busy, they point out. Just doing that can, they explain, make spaces feel much more understated and tranquil but still full of depth and interest.
TOP TIP: Pick three main colours that naturally appeal to you, then build on that by choosing different shades or tones that work with the dominant colour of the three.
If you're a decor diva and ultra fashionable blue appeals, this could be a great calming choice. As the Topology duo highlight, research has found that being in blue spaces can even lower our blood pressure.
Adding toning shades to your chosen blue colour - such as teal, navy or sky blue - could be the perfect colour palette for a gentle, harmonious scheme.
3. Introduce more nature
Biophilia is a bit of a buzzword in the worlds of interiors and wellness right now - and in essence is a nod to upping the greenery in rooms with indoor plants, to harness our innate need to connect with nature. The Topology pair point out the powerful potential effect on our wellbeing of filling our homes with plants, as it's thought we're significantly happier when we're surrounded by the natural world.
TOP TIP: An interior furnished with natural materials - earthenware, linen, marble-based lamps and objects, woollen cushions and blankets - will increase that feeling of being connected to the great outdoors.
4. Lift items off the floor
Lifting furniture, clutter and everyday objects up and away from the floor can easily create a lighter, detoxified and more uplifting space, according to the pair.
"Seeing more floor space and light through and around objects in a room helps a space feel much more weightless and clutter-free," they explain.
TOP TIP: Sofas or chairs with high legs make furniture appear less bulky and dominating. Open storage and wall shelves will complement the style and add to an airy, uncluttered effect.
5. Use rounded shapes
Shape - not size - is everything! Spherical, round, or gently curving furniture and home accessories can not only create a sense of balance but is visually pleasing, say the designers.
There's even science behind the theory, they point out, as research has found that receptors in the brain light up dramatically when people are around the presence of curved or round objects, rather than angular or jagged shapes.
TOP TIP: A round mirror above a bed is effective in a bedroom, which should be an oasis of calm, while other good choices are a round pouffe, spherical pendant lights, or a round coffee table.
6. Designate a clutter drawer
No home can be completely free of clutter - so create a place specifically for tucking it away. Try the designers' two-step plan for a clutter-busting solution.
First, home in on that clutter and gather it into one place (at some point, you can work out whether you can sort it, reduce it, or get rid of it altogether). Next, select one drawer to store unsightly or practical items that can't be stored elsewhere in a home.
Unsightly electrical cables, newspapers, children's toys or spare accessories could be the perfect candidates for that 'tidy away' compartment, they suggest.
7. Create a multi-sensory home
Finally, finish with a flourish by making your home a multi-sensory space, urge the interior gurus. This simply means a space which appeals to all of our senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste.
Apparently, if all those needs are catered for, explain the duo, it helps us feel relaxed and nurtured in our homes - what's not to like?
TOP TIP: While in general, the scent of lavender and vanilla and soft fabrics such as cashmere make us feel comforted, it's more important to focus on what makes you feel good as an individual.
Experiment with different colours, textures, fabrics and scents to help you find the perfect ingredients for your special sanctuary, suggest Brandhorst and Bluff. "After all," they say, "our homes should be personal to each of us and adhere to our needs."