When I first moved to New York City in my early 20’s, I didn’t cared much about home decor. I shared a three-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a walk-up in Washington Heights with two roommates and a giant cat. Natural light was almost nonexistent. The walls in the shared spaces were bare, and the living room was only furnished with a couch and a television, which belonged to one of my roommates. I slept in a tiny triangular shaped closet advertised as a bedroom that came with one small window facing the building’s trash bins and a heating pipe that made noise at night and left me with a permanent burn mark. I never put much effort into decorating because that room was just a place I crashed.  I was young, adventurous (in a different way). The fear of missing out was real so I barely spent anytime at home. I always wanted to be out meeting new people, exploring different corners in the city, and getting lost in any way I could. And I had so many jobs!

Now I’m the complete opposite. I share a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath sunny duplex with my small family in Austin, TX, and I absolutely love being home. I think the major shift in preference (besides being older and more content with my own company) is that I put in more effort into the space. It’s a home and not a crash pad. It’s my sanctuary and it’s also my escape.

I don’t feel like I need to travel to be somewhere beautiful and colorful. I’ve extended my creativity beyond just my personal style and creating content. I try to dress each corner as if I’m putting an outfit together. And what I love about home decor is that it’s always a work in progress. I have yet to transform my guest room, and my home office will eventually be the baby’s nursery.

I spent 33 days in the hospital before I gave birth to my daughter. It was a very dark and scary time for me, and nothing felt better than coming home to my colors. I was so happy to see my plants, the artwork that hung on the walls, and just all the little chachkies that reminded me of how lucky I am.

Before I started buying furniture and other things to fill the rooms, it was important to think about what I wanted the mood of my home to be. I knew I wanted to my home to be cozy, welcoming, and colorful with a good flow. And I wanted anyone who stepped in to feel like, “Love lives here.” I feel like before any gets started, they must think about these things. And because it’s always a work in progress, I’m constantly moving things around to feel the flow of the rooms. I realized I’m more of a maximalist even though I appreciate minimalist designs. I love adding layers, but I don’t like clutter, and I find that sometimes finding the balance can be difficult.

Interested in transforming your living space into a bright, happy home that makes you feel good and excited to get back to? I find these five tips really useful:

  1. Get rid of the clutter. Pack up things you don’t use or don’t bring joy to you and take  them to a donation center. Clean your space from top to bottom. And move anything that seems to be in the way. You should be able to move free around your space without bumping or tripping over things.

  2. Get some plants. You don’t need a garden, and the whole “green thumb” idea is a myth. You just need to buy plants based on how much natural light comes in to your place. Start with some hardy ones like the snake plant or some pythos. Most plants do well if you water them regularly and give them good light. I normally just stick my finger in the soil a few places, and water if the first inch or two is dry. Most plants die because being overwatered.

  3. Collect artwork that speaks to you. I love buying art that I can stare at for a long time, connects with me on a personal level or just simply brings me great joy. I try to get most of my paintings and photographs from women of color and from my creative friends. I love abstract work too so I’m always on the lookout to expand my collection.

  4. Make your bed in the morning. When I come back to a made bed, my mood is automatically lifted. The top of my bed faces west so when I come in around six or seven in the evening, the sunlight plays with different shapes and shadows on my bed, and I consider that one of most magical things.

  5. Fresh flowers = instant mood lifter! Get some fresh flowers in add them in corners of your bedroom or bathroom or your kitchen's counter. I love looking at fresh flowers as I get ready. Make sure to clip the end of the stems and change the water in day or two so they last longer!