Moment of Zen: Creating A Personal Retreat

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Life is full of demands, deadlines and decisions; as a result, stress builds up and everyone needs a place to get away from it all. Since it’s not always possible to escape to your favorite vacation spot, today I’m sharing some of my tips for how to create a calming personal retreat space at home.

Let the Fresh Air In

There’s a reason why being outdoors is invigorating: there’s nothing like letting your lungs fill with fresh air. It’s both calming and energizing; all that extra oxygen working its way into your bloodstream does wonders. So one key to a retreat-like space at home is to be sure you can open up and let as much fresh air in as possible.

Fresh Air
Images: Desire to Inspire

Introduce Sound

You may be in a busy neighborhood or be otherwise bombarded by noise. There’s almost nothing less conducive to calm than unwanted sound, and when you’re opening up to let the breezes blow into your space, you may need to also add your own sounds to counterbalance those coming through the window. Use a white noise or nature sounds app, or just put on your favorite music—but at a background level.

Visual Calm
Images: (Left) Happy Mundate; (Right) Poliform

Create Visual Calm

Another must when making an at-home zen retreat space is to get un-cluttered. At least for the immediate view, seek to create visual calm—meaning something that feels calming to you. That can mean whatever works to settle your mind and spirit, whether it’s a row of keepsakes, the perfect view, or something completely different.

Images: Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

Take it Outside

If you have an outdoor space – yard, terrace, balcony – use it for your retreat area. Follow the simple rules of minimizing visual clutter and balancing out any disturbing sounds and then breathe in all the relaxation you can.

What kinds of retreat spaces have you created at home?

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Dave Hime, founder/curator of, has been an interior design addict for as long as he can remember. In 2005, he bought a house-in-progress and missed several opportunities to have an influence on his own home decor–leaving him wanting more. With design heroes such as Blake Dollahite ( and Robert & Cortney Novogratz (, Dave began seeking out online resources that would exemplify the interior design practices he's most drawn to: using color, texture and simple materials well. Bringing all of this together, along with his specific focus on providing interior design inspiration from a man's point of view, is Dave's mission: masculine design.