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Interview with Jannice Wistrand

– the marketing director who became a feng shui-expert

Jannice Wistrand is an expert on how to create a home in harmony. She is a widely consulted interior designer and feng shui consultant and runs one of the largest interior design blogs in the Nordics, Add Simplicity. In 2017, she was named interior design blogger of the year at the Elle Decoration Swedish Design Awards. Here she talks about how she first became interested in the ancient Chinese practice and reveals her top tips on how to create an orderly and balanced home.

Photo by Lena Evertsson

Hi Jannice! Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.

 Hi! I'm the marketing director who made a midlife career change and started my own company, Add Simplicity. Today, I run one of the largest interior design and feng shui blogs in the Nordics at Sweden's largest interior design magazine Sköna hem. I also educate companies and give lectures on the subject, and decorate both private homes, companies and hotels. At the moment I'm working on designing a number of pieces of furniture for Monlux.

What is feng shui and how did you discover your way into it?

For me, feng shui is a lot about common sense. The idea is that we are affected by everything around us; colours, shapes, materials, furniture, vegetation, lighting and tactility. For example, we inherently feel safe when we can see the doors of a room. To create a comfortable environment, we should furnish it accordingly. When we know how we are affected by all these elements, we can adapt our interior design to affect our daily lives and well-being. Actually there is now some brain research that supports the basic theories of feng shui, ideas that have been practiced for thousands of years.

I was first fascinated by feng shui when I was studying for a degree in economics. I sat in the library with exam anxiety and started browsing through books about interior design. I found a feng shui book, borrowed it and followed the instructions to the letter in a room where I was not very happy with the decor. Once I had added the colours and elements that were missing, I had an aha moment and realised that it was an amazing tool to use for anyone who wants to create a harmonious home. Nothing is left to chance – everything is rooted in nature and our human behaviour. Behavioural science meets beauty and design. I was immediately sold!

What are the most common mistakes people make when decorating their homes?

Basing their interior design on a beautiful picture they've seen on Instagram. Every home is unique and every family has its specific needs. It's important that you do your homework and plan for a sustainable interior where order, structure, optimised furnishing and a suitable colour scheme are key. Without the groundwork and creating a framework for your decor and style, your interior design tends to be expensive and not very sustainable. Sustainability lies in setting trends aside and creating a home where you can grow, gather strength and energy and be inspired. This is highly individual and cannot be copied from anyone else's home.

Do you have any tips on how to maintain order and structure in your home over time?

It's all about constant decluttering – yep, there are no shortcuts. But also to create a structure where everything has its place. For example, if there's often a mess on the kitchen counter, the problem may already exist in the hallway where there should be a nice little box for coins, keys and wallets. A workplace often has a structure for things and papers – apply the same mindset in your home.

Here are my 4 top tips for keeping more structured and organised over time. They'll hopefully reduce the stress and irritation of trying to find out where things have gone, or arguing about who should do the cleaning.

1. One minute

Does it take less than a minute? Do it right away. Hang your sweater in the closet. Put the book back on the bookshelf. Put your plate it in the dishwasher. You get the picture – small things that make a big difference to the whole.

2. Family cleaning

Every evening the whole family takes 10–15 minutes to pick up after themselves. Everyone takes care of the things that are not in their proper place, and prepares for the next day. This could mean packing your bag, preparing the coffee machine or picking out the children's clothes. If you tidy up a bit each day, it will never get messy. And you really set the stage for a calm and comfortable start the next morning.

3. Things in the wrong place

There are always things in a room that don't belong there. It could be a glass of water on the bedside table that should go to the dishwasher. It could be the children's toys that have ended up in the bathroom. Make it a habit never to leave a room empty-handed, but to always take something that shouldn't be there with you when you leave. At our house I often put things that are going upstairs on the bottom steps. Then it's easy to just take it with you when you walk up the stairs.

4. Reduce the size of the mess

Last but not least – the area covered by the mess matters. For example, do you have a kitchen counter or a desk with a lot of paper? Gather them into a neat pile. It looks more orderly, while also making it easier for you to deal with the clutter when it feels more manageable.

How do you create a more harmonious and balanced feeling at home?

One important thing is closed storage. Simple and so effective – beautiful boxes where every item has its rightful place. Too many things on display will give a lot of impressions and demand our attention which triggers our brains. Give your brain a rest with order and tidiness.

Where do you get your inspiration?

From traveling (mostly on film these days) and other cities, but especially hotels, where you often have a few things but never lack of anything. It's cosy, quiet and at the same time a sense of freedom to have only what you need for the moment. Today, our things own us instead of the other way around. That feeling is not very appealing. My inspiration right now comes from books, movies, nature and foreign Instagram accounts where I can get new input and where nothing looks like what you've seen before.

Find Jannice's blog here. You can also follow her on Instagram @addsimplicity.

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