I figured out about three years ago how much my environment and surroundings contribute to my own well-being. It was then that I made some major life decisions: I decided to live alone, get a dog and turn my house into a home.

Since then, I’ve learned even more about my own habits and what contributes to my happiness. Decorating has always been a hobby of mine, and I love being able to add my own flair to my spaces. I learned that clutter made me upset, and learned how to control it (and wrote about how you can here).

My favorite podcast-er, as of late — Gretchen Rubin — shared a Readers’ Digest article recently that highlighted the 13 things that homes of happy people have in common. While I don’t adhere to all 13 items, most of them are rules that I totally believe in:

1. Happy homes are not cluttered

A repeat of above, I take the time every few months or so to get rid of things that are piling up in my house: Papers, trinkets and things I’m no longer using. I also make an effort to donate clothes on a regular basis so that my closet isn’t overflowing.

A study by The University of California showed that coming home to a messy house can interfere with the body’s production of the de-stressing hormone cortisol. So it’s not just social norms that speak to having a clean home — it’s science.

2. Happy homes have displays of meaningful objects

In my house, that’s a beautiful chest from my grandmother’s house, memorabilia from travels and my ever-growing collection of owls.

New couch has arrived – the final step in my living room transformation! #homedecor #decorating

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3. Happy homes show off personality

As you can see in the photo above, I love bright and bold colors — and I love to decorate with them. Busy patterns, sparkly things and unique pieces are the highlights of my home.

My home office features bright colors and florals that make me happy to work.

4. Happy homes smell good

Studies have shown smell has psychological effects, so use oils or candles to evoke good feelings in your home.

Happy Homes

At home I use a wax warmer like this one to liven my house up with different scents. Right now, I’m using a fresh linen scent.

In addition to some of the other 13 items on the list, I would add the importance of having photos throughout your home as well as fresh flowers. If you missed it, I blogged about the benefits of having flowers around last week.