Clutter & Cortisol: Using Home Design To Eliminate the Stress of Stuff

(4.5-min read)

The following scenario may sound familiar to many of us. You come home from a long day at work or from driving the kids to their various activities. The home is a wreck. More than untidy, it feels like items have begun to accumulate all over the house over the past several weeks or even months. A feeling of disappointment or even anxiety may flare up inside as you walk through the door. You’re definitely not alone in this feeling. In this piece, we’re going to look at how clutter has been linked to heightened stress as well as how to control your collection of assorted stuff before it controls your emotions.

Clutter Linked To Stress

It may seem like the build-up of clutter in your house is only dangerous if you trip on it in the middle of the night or early morning. We wish this were true, but it isn’t. According to a study by the UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF), women who consider their homes to be overly cluttered and filled with unnecessary or misplaced items had higher levels of cortisol — the hormone associated with stress. Extended periods of stress can result in heart conditions, impaired cognitive abilities, and digestive issues. Ever just feel off? Part of the reason could be your cluttered house.

Practical Clutter Reduction Tips

Reducing the amount of clutter in your home isn’t rocket science, but rather just requires being more intentional about the items you bring into your home and what to do with them once they’re there.

  • Disregard “might use” items. If you’re holding onto items simply because you “might use” them one day, they’re likely just taking up space in your house as well as your mind. This goes for items that you have already upgraded. That box or drawer full of old phones and random cables likely isn’t helping out your mental state at all.
  • Assign places for your things. It sounds overly simplistic, but simply having an assigned spot in your house for your items can take a load off of your mind. This process not only reduces clutter-induced stress but has two other benefits. Firstly, you will always know where this item is when you need it. Secondly, this will gauge whether or not you need to keep this item. If you don’t have space for it, think hard about whether or not you need to keep it.
  • Gravitate towards multifunction or multi-use items. Instead of buying an item you will only use once or only has one function, consider purchasing items you can use time and time again as well as items that have multiple functions. This is especially true when it comes to kitchen gadgets, which can quickly clutter kitchen drawers.
  • Tidy your garage as though it is another room. It is pretty rare to have a tidy garage as most people simply consider it a space for overflow. If an item has been residing in your garage for years without use, the likelihood that it will be used in the next few years is slim. A tidied garage can have a surprising effect on stress levels and your mental state.

Using Home Design To Reduce Clutter

Organizing and decluttering can greatly help relieve stress you didn’t know you were experiencing. However, in order to make your home less likely to build up clutter in the first place, some elements of custom home design can help.

  • Tame clutter with built-in storage. Once you have a good idea of how a space will be used, you can start to design custom storage solutions to organize the necessary items that the room contains. Built-in cabinets can hide unsightly items. Built-in bookshelves can help organize and tame book collections. Built-in display cases can revive the usefulness of cherished items once taking up space in your closet or attic.
  • Utilize recessed storage. Bulky cabinets can stick out and make a space feel cramped. However, recessed storage elements flush with a wall can increase the feeling of openness in a living room, kitchen, or even bedroom. Consider recessed built-in storage options when designing or remodeling your home.
  • Take advantage of vertical headspace. Most homes today have heightened ceilings. Take advantage of this increased verticle space to store items in higher areas where they are out of your eye-level. Keep the items you need within eye level and easy to access. Less often used items can afford to be kept up higher with a step-stool nearby. If you find yourself needing to store something you rarely use, consider selling, donating, or throwing it away.

For help designing a new home with clutter-reduction built-in, feel free to learn more about and connect with the custom home builder professionals from Perry Hood Properties.

Building a Home Gym You’ll Want To Use

(7-min read)

We’ve all been there — you tell yourself that you’re going to make strides to get into shape via exercise…and then proceed to fail. Whether you just never get started or you over-buy and underuse, it’s easy to fall victim to your own fleeting drive. In this piece, we’re going to look at building a home gym space that you will actually want to use.

The Psychology of Your Workout Space

“Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.” – James Clear, author of Atomic Habits

We’ve used that quote in pieces before, but we wouldn’t if it wasn’t so true. When it comes to your home gym, if your mind isn’t in it, it will be nothing more than a storage room for your exercise equipment. It’s for this reason that we need to change the dynamic and rethink how we see the space.

This isn’t your home gym. This is the place where exercise happens.

If you assume that exercise will happen in your home gym once you fill it full of expensive exercise equipment, you’re likely to fall victim to what is known as a “false start.” If you’ve ever purchased that expensive set of golf clubs in hopes that they will motivate you to hit the greens, only to never make it out there, you understand this concept completely. A false start in the realm of your home gym can happen just as easily. If you don’t think of the space itself as an area of your home where exercise happens, even the fanciest equipment won’t help. It’s crazy how quickly treadmill can become a $3,000 towel rack when we’re not serious about facing our workout goals.

Trick to try:

Before you place a single barbell or piece of exercise equipment in your home gym, clear out the room completely and use the space solely for solo exercise. Run in place. Do jumping jacks, push-ups, planking, and other exercises that don’t require any equipment whatsoever. After a few days or weeks, this space will become your home gym in your mind before it ever materializes physically. After a while, doing jumping jacks in an empty room will start to feel somewhat silly. Still, this space will feel more like a gym and less like a closet for your workout gear.

Add Equipment Piece By Piece

Once you’ve mentally dedicated the space as the location of your physical exercise, you may begin adding exercise equipment piece by piece. Start small and work one at a time depending on your actual workout routine. Maybe start with a set of hand weights or a jump rope. A few weeks or months later, if you feel up to it, install a pull-up bar. Take baby steps to make your gym customized to exercises you actually do.

Only Buy the Equipment You’ll Use

It can feel tempting that, just because a transaction went through on some new sneakers, you’ll start to see gains on new equipment. If you’re not ready for it, it will likely collect dust. Don’t buy a treadmill just because you feel like a gym isn’t a gym without one. Instead, buy a treadmill because you’re tired of running in place. Don’t buy a benchpress set because that’s what a gym has. Buy it because you’re tired of doing bench-presses laying on the floor, pushing your hand weights towards the ceiling.

Trick to try:

If you’re thinking about buying a piece of equipment, put that piece of equipment on your calendar a month away. In the meantime, start doing exercises that the piece of equipment would help you with. Before you buy a rowing machine, replicate the movement with elastic bands in a sitting position on the floor. Before you buy a punching bag, try shadow boxing. By delaying purchases and trying out their benefits, you may find that you wouldn’t actually enjoy the kind of exercise the equipment offers or that you don’t actually need it to achieve similar results.

By only buying what you need once you’re ready to incorporate it into your workout, your home gym won’t be cluttered with unnecessary equipment.

Organize Your Gym In a Transparent, Inspiring Nature

If a plate of cookies were sitting on your kitchen table, you would probably grab one every time you went to get a glass of water. Over time, you’d probably want to consider changing out the plate of cookies with a bowl of apples. Your gym should have the same kind of environmental cues associated with it.

Your home gym is a place to get work done. Like any other workplace, it should be tidy. With that being said, don’t hide pieces of equipment in drawers where you’re likely to forget they exist. Organize your gym equipment where you easily see everything you have. Install a hook on the wall for your jump rope. Keep your weights on a rack where they are visible. Also, keep your equipment organized in accordance with your workout. If you start your workout stretching, leave an open space by the door that allows you to do so. If you then move on to jumping rope, keep that located on a wall hook just outside of that space, followed by weights just beyond that. Allow the flow of your gym to take you on a journey through your workout.

You May Start With No Mirrors

As you start building up your home gym, you may be tempted to copy the look and feel of a regular, subscription-based gym — including installing huge mirrors. If you’re just starting your workout journey, you may hold off on the mirrors for a while. According to an article in Psychology Today, those with body issues may be deterred from continuing their exercise routine if they can see themselves in mirrors all the time. Even if you know that you’re not quite in the best shape yet, you know that you don’t look your best when you’re struggling through a workout. While you may be on your way to six-pack abs and toned limbs, mirrors may make you feel hopeless at first.

Make Appointments For Your Home Gym Use

When you schedule time on your calendar to use your own home gym, you’re more likely to keep the agreement you’ve made with yourself. Treat it like you’ve paid for a membership and you don’t want your money to go to waste. This is actually pretty spot-on as you’ve definitely paid for the use of this gym.

Don’t Break The Chain

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld attributes much of his success to never “breaking the chain.” By this, he’s referring to a habit he developed of writing one joke every day. It could be great, it could be terrible, but just the act of doing this act is what led to notebook after notebook filled with jokes. On every day that he wrote a joke, he would draw a huge red “X” on the calendar date of a calendar that hung on his wall. His goal was to never “break the chain” of Xs. In a similar way, you may consider hanging a generic calendar on your gym wall with a red pen or marker hanging next to it on a string. For every day you work out, X out the date. See how long you can go without breaking the chain.


If you’d like help designing your ideal home gym space, you may consider factoring this into your new home build with help from Perry Hood Properties.

Learn more about the experienced home building professionals from Perry Hood Properties today.

Transforming Your Guest Room into a Serene Old-Fashioned Study

(3.5-min read)

As a society, we’ve never been more connected. Personal computers with access to every person we know (and don’t know) fit in the palm of our hands. Open-concept floorplans are great for parties but provide no space for private contemplation. Perhaps it is time to put down the screens from time to time and reconnect to the stoic contemplation that our grandparents enjoyed. Perhaps it is time to consider transforming your guest room into a multifunctional study.

Making Use of the Unused Guest Room

home library reading nook studyMany homes today enjoy the luxury of a guest room. However, many of us don’t set foot in our guest rooms when they’re not used for their intended purpose. Even worse, when these spaces are not utilized, they often fill with unnecessary clutter and may even become unusable for their intended purpose. In order to give your guest room a sense of utility as well giving yourself a place to retire in quiet contemplation, transforming your guest room into a multifunctional study has never felt more appealing.

Using a Murphy Bed or Hide-A-Bed Sofa

murphy bedYour guest room may not feel like anything more than an unoccupied bedroom. This is due largely in part to the large bed that occupies the entire room when not in use (which is most of the time). In order to be able to make great use of your guest room when not occupied, an easily concealable Murphy bed or hide-a-bed sofa is a great choice. Murphy beds allow any unused bed to fold into the wall. Hide-a-bed sofas provide great seating for enjoying a coffee on a rainy morning or a cocktail with a novel after hours.

Warming Up Your Study Space

A study can feel like an oasis from the busy world or even a busy home. In order to maximize this warm and cozy feel, there are a few easy methods.

  • Consider removing or concealing TVs and computer monitors. Sometimes, we simply need a break from screens. By removing these screens from sight, you will feel less drawn to be mindlessly carried into the busyness of the outside world and instead settle into that book you’ve been wanting to read.
  • Stocked bookshelves provide instant warmth and escape. There are few things more simultaneously appealing and calming than the sight of a fully-stocked bookshelf. Your study can act as the library of your home. After a while, it will feel like the books are begging to be read.
  • Keep your study’s lighting warm and muted. Bright or sterile lighting can feel harsh and irritating. Instead, consider lighting your study with lamps or wall-mounted fixtures with warmer color temperatures.
  • Keep the color palate natural. Bright colors can add energy to any space. For this reason, intentionally mute the colors of your study with warm and natural colors. Wood-grain furniture, leather tones, and brass accents can add an old-world warmth to any modern space.

Studies Make For Relaxing Guest Spaces

One of the biggest advantages of a study/guest room is how much your guests will enjoy their temporary accommodations. Because they will likely not be spending a large duration of their visit in their room, when they finally do retire to the quarters, the warm study will embrace them like a welcoming hug at the end of the day. The muted lighting will help them settle their minds before bed. The stocked bookshelves will not only be aesthetically pleasing and not offensive but will also help muffle outside noise from interfering with their slumber.


If you would like additional help designing your ideal guest room/study, consider including such a space in your custom home build with help from Perry Hood Properties.

Learn more about the homebuilding professionals at Perry Hood Properties today.

7 Signs You Hired a Bad Contractor to Build Your House

(4.5-min read)

Building a house is one of the largest investments you’ll ever make. When doing so, it pays to be diligent in determining which contractor will help you achieve that goal without breaking the bank. You have received a great quote from a contractor, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best home building contractor for you. In this piece, we’re going to investigate some of the telltale signs that you shouldn’t be working with a certain home building contractor.

1. They Don’t Get the Proper Building Permits

You’re not expected to know everything about the home-building process — that’s why you hired a home building contractor in the first place. However, if your contractor begins work before securing the proper legal building permits, this could be a terrible sign of what to expect in the future. This denotes that they are hasty, irresponsible, and possibly not even legitimate. Do your homework to determine what building permits are necessary for which stage of your home’s construction and make sure that your contractor has these at the appropriate time. If not, it may be time to have a word with them.

2. They Aren’t Punctual

We all have a lot on our plates, but if your contractor is habitually late to meetings or cancels frequently, this shows their lack of professionalism and dedication to the building of your home. While you need to be professional as well, don’t forget that these people are essentially working for you. If you were the manager of a business and they were your employee, how much would you let a perpetually tardy employee get away with this? Expect this of your contractor as well.

3. They Change the Price Repeatedly

A great deal out of the gate is great, but it can sometimes be too good to be true. A contractor that changes the price is likely either not professional or could be taking you for an expensive ride. When your price is established, discuss the likelihood of price changes in the future. Ask about everything that could happen that may end up changing your prices, down from material upgrades, unforeseen issues, down to even natural disasters. You and your contractor should know precisely how much you’re willing to pay and not exceed this level.

4. They Avoid Contracts and Written Agreements

If someone with the word “contract” in their job title avoids written agreements, they’re likely someone with whom you don’t want to do business. If your contractor avoids written agreements and contracts whenever possible, consider this a bad omen. When you stress that you’d like written agreements for absolutely every bit of work or material purchased, frame it in a way that says, “I’m trying to protect you as well.” If even this doesn’t change their attitude, don’t walk — run!  

5. They Are Often Out of Reach

You should have your contractor’s phone number handy. If they don’t give it to you, ask them for it and what the best hours are for you to reach them. If they always seem out of reach during the agreed-upon hours, this means that (a.) they’re going through a personal crisis or family emergency, (b.) they are unprofessional, or (c.) they are avoiding you. Any of these means that they are likely not the contractor to work on your home at this time. Apply the rule from #2 here as well — if they were your employee at a company, would you tolerate this behavior?

6. They Don’t Provide Examples of Work

If a contractor you’ve found can’t provide you with examples of their work or past clients willing to provide a testimonial/reference for them, this is not the contractor you want building your home. This lack of demonstrated experience provides too many variables for your tremendous investment.

7. Their Prices Seem Too Good to Be True

A great deal can feel like God-send during the stressful time of building you house. Still, if the price is too good to be true, it likely is. An inordinately low price quote can mean that your contractor may not be on the up-and-up. Either they’re not paying for the proper insurance, training, management, registration, personnel, or they will expect you to budge a bit in your expectations of them in the future (“be happy I’m giving you a great deal”). Just like in other parts of life, when it comes to a cheap contractor, you often get what you pay for.


Don’t get stuck with an unprofessional home-building contractor. Perry Hood Properties has a proven track record of building the highest quality home on time and on budget.

Learn more about the home-building professionals from Perry Hood Properties today.