I sat on the sofa last week with Jules, Mimi had just gone to bed, and I looked around the living room and out to the garden and I just said: “I love this house so much. It has made me so happy.” Just over a year after buying it, overseeing the renovation project, and doing a lot of home improvement it finally feels as though the inside of the house is very nearly done! And it’s a really good feeling. So, when I was sent The GoodHome Report, published by B&Q in partnership with the Happiness Research Institute, I completely agreed with the findings. How we feel about our homes is key to our happiness. In fact, our homes account for 15% of our total happiness, and I can well believe it! This makes them more important to our wellbeing than our income (6%), our general fitness (14%) or our job (3%).
When we moved in to the house, the first problem which bothered us was the fact the downstairs was three very small rooms. This wasn’t practical for us as a family, as we wanted more of an open plan area, which we could all be in and enjoy at the same time. We also felt this would be the perfect space for inviting friends and family around. Our house is also relatively small, as you can see from the photographs, which made creating a sense of space even more crucial. This is especially the case with all the kids’ paraphernalia we had, and the need for plenty of storage, and roominess to feel relaxed and comfortable.
In order to improve our home and how we felt about it, we decided to renovate the downstairs into one space, as we knew this would work better for us. Even though it still wasn’t the biggest of areas when complete, we knew it would make a big difference to our happiness levels. As the Report found, the actual size of a home doesn’t matter, it’s the sense of space you create within it. Opening up the entire downstairs has made our home feel open, larger and it has flooded the space with light, which gives me a spring in my step every single day. Obviously knocking down walls isn’t something everyone can do but just simply re-arranging the furniture in a room can have a HUGE impact on how spacious and light a room feels. We debated for a long time as to whether taking on the renovation was the right thing for our family; often the price or lack of expertise can put people off taking on home improvement or even stop them halfway through the project. But having done so, I can say without a doubt that our home is one of my greatest sources of happiness and pride. I love coming home, I feel proud when my friends and family are here and I love more than anything watching how happy Mimi and Otto are here. Apparently inviting people in to share our homes makes them even happier places to be (except for the absolute carnage that having small children here can make!) and increases our emotional connections with where we live and I really believe this to be true. I now have a whole host of happy memories tied up with times we have spent here with loved ones: Mimi’s first Halloween party, her second birthday party, New Year’s Eve drinks, numerous lovely times with friends and their children.
When we moved in all of the structural work, the wiring and plumbing, plastering and decorating and bathroom had been done but we left ourselves a few fairly major projects to do in order to save money, like the downstairs renovation. However, it wasn’t just these major projects, but
also smaller home improvement projects that were on my list, to make the space feel more homely and personal. We were definitely to be found down at our local B&Q most weekends when we first moved, and I’m pretty good at adding projects to the list, so weekends there happen almost as often these days too.
For example, a small change we wanted to make was introducing more greenery into our space. As well as the garden and park that we back on to, filling my home with plants, such as growing herbs on the kitchen windowsill, even though only a small change, really did make a difference
to how calm the space felt. The Report does say that having no access to green space (about 10% of people) makes people significantly less happy and I can well believe that. It suggests that taking the time to improve our homes and investing time and energy into the process is actually an investment in our happiness. I know that after every weekend of home improvement and achieving one of our goals on our to-do list it made me so, so happy. With every step, it made our house look and feel and work better for us and ultimately made life easier.
So in summary, the GoodHome Report recommends five things that we can all do to make our homes happier: re-arrange the space, make time to update our homes, invite people in, get green-fingered and add personality to the space. As a result of our home improvement projects we have been able to do all of these things. We are so looking forward to spending our first summer in our new home (and dare I say painting the exterior..?) This house really has made me so happy and I would probably say that it accounts for more than the 15% of my overall happiness that the GoodHome report suggests. What about you – how emotionally attached are you to your home? Could you make any of the changes I’ve discussed to make you feel happier and prouder at home? I’d love to know what you think.
B&Q have launched the GoodHome range to help make home improvement so much more simple and accessible for everyone. It offers new products, from paint to garden fencing (we need some of that!), providing great quality at low prices, designed to suit a range of budgets. Ultimately, the range has been created to help people have a happy home that they feel good about. If you’re considering a renovation or home improvement project to make your home a happier place I would strongly recommend it! You can read more insights from the report for yourself here.
*This post is a paid collaboration with B&Q.