Love the home you’re in, not the one you can’t afford

Most people have a clear mental image of their dream home but such idyllic properties usually have hefty price tags and for many of us, they remain a pipe dream. However, with a little imagination and creativity, it is possible to create your dream space by making the very best of the home you do have.

This is according to Sandy Geffen, Executive Director of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in South Africa, who says: “It’s easy to feel discouraged when our dreams and reality seem to be be driven further and further apart by a dwindling economy and spiralling cost of living, but if you can’t afford the home you’d love, it is possible to love the home you’re in.

“Regardless of whether it’s a small apartment or rambling house, our homes are an extension of who we are and while we may not be able to achieve the perfection we yearn for, we can transform them into warm, welcoming, and comfortable havens that reflect who we are.”

Geffen says that the first step to creating a peaceful haven is to declutter and reclaim your space, then take a good look around with fresh eyes and evaluate each room What is it used for, what is its ambience, what do you like about it and what would you change?

“Even if you are on a tight budget, it’s possible to completely transform a room through use of colour, changing fittings and finishes and adding elements like plants.

“But if you do want to make bigger changes then work around the sales as this will save a huge amount of money, particularly if you are purchasing new kitchens or bathrooms or larger pieces of furniture.

“And before you rip out all the carpets, get them professionally cleaned as this can make an amazing difference to the colour and condition of older carpets.”

Colour: hues and tones

Studies have shown that colour not only affects our moods and energy levels, it can even can change body temperature and appetite, so it’s important to choose carefully.

• Yellow is the most uplifting, upbeat colour associated with happiness, cosiness and warmth and it’s known to stimulate creativity. It’s an especially good colour for kitchens, bathrooms and children’s bedrooms.

• Green
is the colour of renewal, fresh energy, and regeneration as well as being calming as it mimics nature and links the interior to outdoors. In its softer forms, green is a soothing shade that aids concentration and relaxation while bolder greens can have a galvanizing effect.

• Blue
is a calming, serene colour, said to bring down blood pressure and slow respiration and heart rate which is why its are often recommended for bedrooms and bathrooms. If you are worried about the room being cold, choose a shade with a warm undertone, like lavender and lilac.

• Pink
in its lighter hues is gentle and soothing and the darker pinks are more vibrant and inspirational. It is also the colour of romance and sensuality. But be aware that darker pinks are better for rooms with larger windows as they can make a space seem smaller.

• Red
is a bold colour of passion, energy optimism and courage which has been known to increase the heart rate and induce emotion. Used in living areas, it will make a room feel more opulent and create the perception of warmth. If you are nervous of using such a dramatic colour, use it on just one feature wall.

• Brown
is the colour of strength, grounding and stability and is associated with comforting and delicious delights like rich dark chocolate and gourmet coffee, but rather than incorporating it through paint, it’s best introduced into a room in a natural form like wood.

Geffen adds: “In terms of space and colour another option is a clear palate and adding colour through accessories like art, scatter cushions and flowers. Pure white, light cream and light grey are very peaceful minimalistic hues that totally infuse the home with one flowing energy that is soft and peaceful.”


Lighting is very important to the ambience of a space and if a room is lit the right way feels relaxed and comfortable and even looks their best.

Don’t only rely solely on overhead lights to illuminate a room. Depending on the size of the space, try and add a mix of table and floor lighting to add depth, warmth and atmosphere.

And dimmers are essential for multi-purpose rooms as they allow for flexibility depending on the time of day, event, or mood, and they're a great energy saver.

Fluorescent lighting should be avoided at all costs as it makes everything look off colour and can lead to fatigued eyes

During the day, natural sunlight does wonders to lift one’s spirits so be sure to keep shades pulled up and curtains open, even on cloudy days.


We are often so distracted by the way a room looks that we don’t give any thought to how it smells but scent has the power to uplift or put a dampener on our moods so the way a room smells is just as important as its appearance.

Give any space a pleasant fragrance with bowls of potpourri, scented oil diffusers, incense or solid air fresheners. Lavender, rose and vanilla are especially relaxing scents. Once you think of scent as a must-have accessory for your home, you’ll be hooked trying out different combinations.

And for an instant, and totally free, air refresh, make sure you open your doors and windows for even just a few minutes each day, especially on a flower-filled garden.

Plant Power
Plants are an important element when creating a restorative home. Not only is it a way of bringing nature into your home, it also helps to clean and re-oxygenate the indoor air. And even if you don’t normally notice a plant’s presence, seeing them can subconsciously make us feel calmer and more relaxed.

Says Geffen: “Remember that less is usually more, so rid yourself of the clutter get a sense of space into your dimension with clean lines and clear spaces.”

She concludes: “Of course the best addition to any home is the sound of happy laughter and the soothing tones of our loved one’s voices, so regularly fill your home with your favourite people and add the enticing aromas of their best-loved dishes cooked with love in your new-look kitchen.”

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