As the former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK and Series Judge on the BBC’s Interior Design Masters, Michelle Ogundehin knows a thing or two about the impact our homes can have on our overall mood and wellbeing. Using the principles from her new book ‘Happy Inside’ – a step-by-step guide to becoming your best self by creating a space in which to feel truly at home – Michelle has hand-selected her favourite investment pieces from our new season collection to help you create a healthy and happy home.
Take it away Michelle…
The ultimate goal of the #happyinside home is the creation of a space that supports your wellbeing. That means limiting the distractions around you while increasing what sustains you. But make no mistake, I am no minimalist. I love things! So, it’s not about getting rid of loads of your stuff, it’s about carefully curating what you own so that everything makes a positive contribution to the whole.
And in our acutely digital world, when we tend to be almost umbilically connected to the super-smooth screens of our phones and computers, texture is key. The things that we touch everyday can add joy to our lives and emotional value to our environments. And touch is the language of compassion, helping us to bond and connect with others. After all, even when we talk of sending a text or email, we refer to it as keeping in touch!
In addition, feeling a sense of the hand of the maker — for example, when we look at woven rattan or a wobbly earthenware pot — connects us to our essential humanity. Such humble materials also acknowledge important ecological concerns as they are not only affordable and sustainable but also full of inherent tactility and authenticity.
Ultimately, while it’s certainly true that we do not need as much as we think to live a meaningful life, if we buy mindfully, we buy once, confident in the knowledge that we are surrounding ourselves only with things that we love, and this is the absolute first step in becoming truly #happyinside.
Michelle’s top picks:
THE ARIANO MIRROR
“Sleek, subtle, stylish and slender, this is a mirror that could go anywhere, and smarten any wall.”SHOP ARIANO »
THE JAMBI CHAIR
“I absolutely adore this outdoor chair. It’s sculptural and comfortable and the perfect mix of retro and modern. The bright green frame is a clever touch too.”SHOP JAMBI »
THE BRICHFORD THROW
“Accessories in mustard are like a shot of spice to your interior decor. And why have flat throws when you can have waffles!”
SHOP BRICHFORD »
THE JUDD TABLE LAMP
“Elegant simplicity, that’s both useful and beautiful with the added fun of just having to tap the lamp base to turn it on and off. “SHOP JUDD »
THE FLOKATI CUSHION
“You can never have too many cushions! They are the absolute best way to make any sofa into a modern den and an oasis of cosiness and comfort.”SHOP FLOKATI »
THE UTAH VASE
“With a pleasingly rough surface, this unglazed vase, hand-crafted in Thailand, looks, and feels, unique, individual and authentic.”SHOP UTAH »
THE DECO BENCH
“Because where else is smart enough for all those cushions but a plush velvet-upholstered storage bench! It’s also the perfect shade of old-fashioned dirty pink.”SHOP DECO »
THE INDAH COFFEE TABLE
“I love this more unusual way to bring a dose of the natural world into the home. The round form also encourages energy flow and protects your shins.”SHOP INDAH »
THE CORNELIA SIDE TABLE
“With future classic written all over it — elegant spindles, timeless design, curved top and space for storage underneath — what more could you want from a side table.”SHOP CORNELIA »
THE AWEL PLANTER
“Plants are veritable air-cleaning ninjas, and you are what you breathe so it behoves us all to detox where we live. But we also need good-looking planters too.”SHOP AWEL »
THE ASHKHAN BASKETS
“I use baskets as planters (with a saucer inside), for storage and as waste bins. They are superbly multi-functional and an easy way to introduce texture into your home.”SHOP ASHKHAN »
We also caught up with Michelle after the release of her new book to find out the inspiration behind her edit and book…
Can you summarise what your new book ‘Happy Inside’ is about?
Happy Inside: How to harness the power of home for health and happiness is a lifestyle manual x essential handbook for anyone who wants to create a home that supports, rather than sabotages, their wellbeing — a space that enables you to be your best self. It mixes everything I’ve learnt from 20 years of editing interiors magazines, to the insight gained from my study of Buddhist philosophy and personal practice of meditation and mindfulness with my knowledge of colour psychology, to guide the reader, step by step, through the creation of a space in which to feel truly at home.
How did the idea for your new book arise?
I wrote Happy Inside because I believe we need to change the way we think about home-making; because people frequently ask me the wrong questions in pursuit of a harmonious home; because creating a home for likes on Instagram is not the path to peace, and as such, because, I firmly believe that if you want positive personal change of any sort, you must first address your environment. but from an entirely holistic point of view. I also wanted to completely debunk any idea that home-making is frivolous. It’s not, it’s fundamental to your health and happiness. Taking charge of the space in which you live really could become your secret super-power in today’s unpredictable world. In this way, instead of reacting in times of stress, you’re better able to weather the inevitable curve balls of life with a more thoughtful outlook.
What makes you the happiest in your own home?
Every single component of my home contributes to my happiness and comfort! From what I see as soon as I step over my threshold, to the weight of my cutlery, the scent of my soap to the feel of my sheets when I go to bed at night. But this isn’t because I’ve painfully laboured through hours of being annonyingly picky, it’s simply that I put the time first into working out what I like, my personal palette of materials and colours, if you will. Then it’s easy because nothing comes into my home, whether furnishing or paint, without me knowing first that it subscribes to that palette, and then believing that I love it, that it’s the best I can afford, that it adds to my life in some way and that I need it. Everything is considered, so everything becomes a part of the story I want to tell. That’s not to say I don’t occasionally make mistakes! Of course, it happens. But when I feel something just isn’t right, I take steps to change it as quickly as I can.
Ultimately, I wholeheartedly live and breathe my #happyinside philosophy and this is why I can testify to its efficacy. Having moved a lot (both cities and continents) and having lived through many an unappetising rental in the past, as well as having previously struggled with insomnia and had my fair share of life’s ups and downs, I’ve learnt many lessons the hard way. But I now sleep like a baby! The point being, I’ll hopefully save my readers from treading the same twisty path.
How did you go about selecting the Habitat edit? And what was the criteria?
The clues are really all in the captions! They were all things that I felt would make a positive contribution to someone’s home because they were either useful, tactile, textural or just beautiful. But of course, that’s only my opinion! What’s key is that you decide for yourself what calls to you.
If you had to choose one or two top interiors tips to boost your mood, what would they be?
Painting a ceiling is a great way to add an unexpected flash of colour to any room. All of the downstairs ceilings in my home are painted a very pale blue gloss, but in one slightly extended section of the kitchen, where I have two rooflights, the ceiling is painted a wonderfully sunny mustard yellow. Every time I sit there, whatever the weather outside, it feels like there’s sunshine overhead.
My second tip would be to clear your hallway. What you see as soon as your come home has the power to boost or crash your mood like nothing else. So, are you met with a pile of post, a heap of coats and a tangle of shoes? Result — instant irritation. Or, could they all be tidied up or go elsewhere, then, for that vital first moment of arrival, you can physically and visually exhale, and be given a minute to simply appreciate the joy of being safely home.
Are there any quick fixes you recommend we can introduce into our homes to lift our mood?
Clean your windows! Daylight is pure energy, so getting as much of it as possible inside is essential. Clear your windows of any unnecessarily fussy window ‘treatments’ too. Your windows are the eyes of the home, so let them be seen, and be better able to see.
Are there any ‘happy’ colours you’d recommend we incorporate into our homes?
Because everyone sees colour differently, and the way we respond to colour is unique, there can never be a prescribed set of ‘happy’ colours that suits everyone. It’s entirely individual. Thus, the most important thing you can ever do in pursuit of a home that truly reflects your personality, and thus supports you to the very core of your being, is to take the time to work out the threads of your taste — what makes your soul sing? There’s many ways to work this out, and they’re all detailed inside the book, but trust me, this alone will be the beginning of the creation of your very own happy palette.
If you liked this edit why not check out Michelle’s new book, Happy Inside:
Happy Inside: How to Harness the Power of Home for Health and Happiness by Michelle Ogundehin, is a lifestyle manual x essential handbook for every wellness warrior in search of a considered home. It is your one-stop step-by-step guide to becoming your best self by creating a space in which to feel truly at home.