Turning your home into a haven from the outside world may not sound terribly difficult; all you really need is some blinds and deadbolt to maintain privacy and keep people out. But there’s a lot more to turning your living space into a peaceful and serene sanctuary than simply barring entrance. If you want to relax and unwind every time you walk in the door you’ll need to take steps to build the tranquil environment you’re craving. And that requires you to consider the colors, materials, and décor that fill your space. Even the placement of furnishings or the amount of stuff in your home can make a big difference in how your interior feels (or rather, how it makes you feel). So here are just a few design tips that will help you to de-stress and leave your worldly cares behind every time you come home.

The most obvious place to start is with color, since many people have only limited understanding of the power it has to make a space exhibit a certain aesthetic. For example, plenty of people simply paint all of their walls white or choose a neutral shade of cream or sand. This is rarely because they like these “colors”, but rather because they don’t know what else to do and they’re scared of messing up and painting walls a color that they end up hating. Although such mistakes are easily rectified with another coat of primer and a new paint color, many feel it’s easier to stick to the bland neutrals that often come with the house.

However, your flooring and furnishings will likely be neutral, as well, leaving your home looking dull and poorly designed. So instead, go for a color that will add some life to your living spaces. For those afraid to commit, an accent wall is a good way to ease into the prospect of color. And if you’re going this way you should choose a bold color (either bright or saturated) that appeals to you on a primal level. But if you decide to take the plunge and go for paint all around, consider choosing a more muted tone in a light pastel shade, since bold hues can be overwhelming in larger doses. Blues, greens, and purples tend to be the most relaxing.

But what about the rest of the décor? There are a few guidelines that will help when it comes to turning your home into the tranquil retreat you’re looking for. First, choose furnishings that are both comfortable and visually appealing. For a look that is cohesive, try to select pieces from roughly the same era and style (a mixture of Tudor, Oriental, and midcentury modern, for example, will make your house look like a garage-sale hodgepodge).

You’ll also want to incorporate different levels of illumination (bright for the kitchen and bathrooms and less intense for lounge areas), so a variety of lighting options and the addition of dimmer switches should help. And as for finishing touches, try not to go overboard. A few well-placed items (patterned rugs, fluffy throws, wall water features, and house plants, for example) will help to complete your look without cluttering up your physical and mental space. The final package will have you sighing with contentment each time you return home.