Photo: James Bombales
“Self-care really starts at home,” says Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy trend expert and a judge on NBC’s new series “Making It.” Beyond deep conditioning hair masks and proper hydration, self-care is about creating a safe and serene environment for yourself, free from stressors. “Once you start to feel comfortable in your home, then you can start digging deeper and adding those extra elements, like guided meditation or a new beauty regimen,” she says.
We asked Isom Johnson to share her top tips on promoting self-care through home decor, and her answers did not disappoint. Take a sip of water (repeat after me, ‘I honor my body’) and read on to find out how you can bring feel-good vibes into your space.
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1. Focus on specific areas of the home
“The bedroom is number one, it’s where you release your energy at night and it’s where you start your day in the morning,” says Isom Johnson. She suggests surrounding yourself with positive decor pieces, like an inspirational book or a Himalayan salt lamp. “Number two, for me, is the living room. I entertain a lot in my space, and with so many people coming and going, you want to make sure the room is balanced.”
2. Add plenty of greenery
“Plants make everything better!” insists Isom Johnson. “Not only are they great decor additions, they also improve the air quality.” Even serial plant killers can be reformed — just try not to over or under-water your
friends fronds and do some basic research on their light preferences. “Seeing greenery around you kind of livens and awakens you,” says Isom Johnson.
3. Embrace the power of crystals
Even if you don’t buy into the concept of healing crystals, they certainly make for pretty decor accents. “It’s all about balancing your energy, awakening your spirit, and channeling the energy that’s brought on by these specific stones,” says Isom Johnson. She keeps amethyst in the living room to “promote conversation and positivity,” rose quartz by her bedside to “foster self-love and confidence,” and black tourmaline above the doorway “to ward off negative energy from coming into the space.”
4. Sage your space regularly
“Burning sage cleanses the energy in your space,” explains Isom Johnson. “I am a big, big, big advocate for that. I sage my space every week.” The ritual, which is referred to as smudging, involves lighting a bundle of white sage until it begins to smoke. Waft the smoke throughout the room, allowing any negative energy to flow out of open windows and doors. Sound too new age-y for you? According to a study from 2007, burning sage can kill up to 94 percent of airborne bacteria.
5. Burn incense in a modern holder
“Incense has been around forever, I remember my parents burning it around our house in the 80s, but the holders have never been quite as attractive as they are today,” notes Isom Johnson. “Hand motifs are really big right now, and there are so many variations in ceramic, wood and metal.” Burning incense can relieve anxiety, lower blood pressure and encourage better sleep. Did we mention that it smells good, too?
6. Design a meditation space
“You want to make sure you have a comfortable place to sit,” says Isom Johnson. “Some people like to sit on a meditation pouf, while others like to sit straight up in a chair.” She prefers the luxurious leather pouf, as seen above, for its added texture and masculine feel. “I always like to incorporate a great altar — choose candles that make you feel happy and joyful, sage to cleanse out the energy, and, of course, plants!”
7. Enhance your mood with essential oils
While we all have own personal preferences, Isom Johnson opts for citrus, lavender and peppermint scents. “I put drops of lavender on my temples at night to help me sleep, and I keep clementine in the living room because it’s meant to awaken a person’s senses.” Diffusers are a popular choice for invigorating your space with your favorite scent, but adding a few drops of oil to a spray bottle can work just as well for a quick room refresh.
8. Choose artwork that makes you smile
“You can choose artwork based off the decor that’s currently in your home, but when you choose pieces that feature calming color tones, it really helps you decompress,” says Isom Johnson. Rather than picking out a mass-produced piece from the clearance aisle of a big-box retailer, support an up-and-coming artist on Etsy whose work really speaks to you. “If you look at something and it brings you joy, and it kind of calms the senses, that’s only gonna help you.”
9. Adopt a wabi-sabi aesthetic
“One of the biggest trends of this year that matches back to wellness in a major way is wabi-sabi — it’s all about embracing imperfection,” says Isom Johnson. “As a society, we are always striving to have a picture-perfect Instagram or bake a Pinterest-worthy cake, and wabi-sabi is the antithesis to that.” The trend can be applied to home decor by way of functional, handmade items, like a bowl you crafted in pottery class or a throw pillow cushion you picked up on a trip to Peru. “Even if it’s not perfect, that’s okay! It has a story and it has meaning to you.”