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13 Ways to Be Happier in Your Home This Year

Make 2013 the year you increase your happiness at home with resolutions that will get you motivated to finish lagging projects, learn new skills and add more pizzazz to your space. Sure, you can resolve to clear clutter (see number four below for a fresh way to do that), but that's not the only way to make a fresh start around the house this year. Let these 13 design resolutions jump-start your inspiration, then share your own ideas in the Comments section.
1. Follow your heart, not trends. It's fun to keep track of what is current in the design world, but when it comes to your own home, remember you are the trendsetter! Just because emerald green is one forecaster's color of the year doesn't mean you should shun your favorite muted pastels. Let this be the year you stay true to you.
2. Mark your calendar for a big flea market or antiques fair. A great way to get inspired is to attend a well-run antiques fair or major flea market, such as Brimfield in Massachusetts, Round Top in Texas or the Alameda Point Antiques Faire in Northern California. Pencil in the date and invite a design-loving friend to go along.
3. Broaden your design education. If a home project has you feeling frustrated or simply uninspired, learning from the pros is a great way to get unstuck. Sign up for a design workshop, and read more decorating books, design blogs and ideabooks.
4. Define the function of each room. If clutter is something you would like to tackle in the new year, this can be a useful way to approach the problem. Going room by room, think about what you really use each part of your home for — watching movies and reading in the den, for example. Make sure that everything you need to do these things is at hand, and get rid of anything and everything unrelated.

More guides to decluttering
contemporary home office by Iris
by Iris
by Iris
5. Make a mood board. Get out your scissors, tape and stacks of dog-eared design mags, pour yourself a cup of something yummy to drink and set aside an afternoon for crafty fun. The online world is wonderful, but sometimes the physical act of cutting and pasting pictures can spark ideas that just don't occur while you're staring at a screen.

Create a place for inspiration to flourish
6. Give your front door a facelift. When was the last time you gave your front door a second thought? It contributes a lot to the first impression people have of your home. Is it in good shape? Could it use new hardware? A new color? Consider adding something new, such as fresh potted plants in hefty urns to flank your entrance, a stately door knocker or modern house numbers.
7. Refresh your bathroom. The beauty of a bathroom makeover is that it takes so little to make a big impact. Splurge on nice hand soap and lotion, and place them in a little tray on your sink (you can always refill the bottles with your usual stuff when they're empty). Snip a fresh bloom and float it in a bowl or cup, give your sink and mirrors a good scrub, and pick out a stack of new, fluffy white bath towels.
eclectic dining tables by IKEA
8. Personalize a plain piece. Instead of letting that plain white or wood piece play a supporting role, turn it into something special with a creative touch. Customize a plain table by having a piece of glass cut to fit the top and using it to display a beautiful printed wallpaper, fabric or even gift wrap. Paint the legs of a stool, cover the back of a bookcase in grass cloth or burlap, or line your drawers with pretty paper.
9. Have something made just for you (and your house). Whether you live in your forever home or are renting your first apartment, having something made especially for you really makes your space your own. There are so many wonderfully creative options available these days for personalized items:
  • Order a custom calligraphy-style address stamp.
  • Commission a house or pet portrait.
  • Have your monogram put on pillow covers or hand towels.
  • Have your house numbers monogrammed onto cocktail napkins.
  • Create a DIY monogram using stencils or iron-on letters for a budget-friendly project.
10. Learn a new skill. If you haven't yet hopped on the DIY bandwagon, let this be the year you give it a try. Choose an area that appeals to you and search for tutorials online (read about reupholstering a chair seat here), pick up a book, or hunt for a local class or workshop to get started.
11. Set your table at every meal. This is one of those small habits that can end up making a huge difference in your daily life. The setup doesn't need to be fancy, but commit to setting out real glasses, plates and silverware, and cloth napkins, along with something extra, such as a vase of flowers, placemats or a tablecloth — even if you are having takeout.
12. Tweak the lighting. Lighting can make an amazing difference in our experience of a room. For each room in your home, count the light sources — aim for at least three but preferably more. If you have overhead lighting, put the fixtures on dimmer switches and supplement with table and floor lamps.
13. Buy less but buy better quality. I know it's not always possible to buy the things we have our hearts set on, but we can set a goal to not fritter away money on furniture that will fall apart within a year or decor bought on impulse. If you do have your eye on a special piece, try keeping a picture of it where you will see it regularly (like on your phone) as a reminder to save up for what you really want.