How to refresh your home after a breakup

Tips for making your space feel like home again

A ombre rainbow background with a picture of an apartment
(Image credit: Future / Beth Mahoney)

Breakups suck, there’s no getting away from that fact, and even more so when you’ve been living together (or they’ve spent a lot of time at your place). So knowing how to refresh your home after a breakup is crucial (that is, if you ever want to feel at home there again). 

Admittedly, when you’ve spent a lot of time with an ex in a certain space, it can feel almost impossible to move past the breakup. Every area of your home holds a memory. Every piece of furniture makes you think of them. We get it. It's really tough. And, while refreshing your home can't fix your heartbreak, what it can do is help to kickstart the healing process. 

To help you to give your home the refresh it needs, we've rounded up a selection of expert-approved tips. 

Ways to refresh your home after a breakup

The truth is that our homes can have a rather profound impact on our mental health and so, knowing how to change up your space post-breakup can be super helpful in terms of getting you through this challenging season of life. 

1. Air out the space and change the energy

Abbey Sangmeister, burnout coach and therapist says: “Open the windows, light a candle that doesn’t remind you of the ex or sage the place."

Even if you're not into the idea of being able to change the energy of a space, the process of freshening the air — by opening a window or burning a candle (like this Molton Brown one from Amazon that I am low-key obsessed with) — or doing a sage cleanse (these sage smudge sticks from Amazon should work well for this) can be extremely cathartic. Plus, the process can help to remove any lingering smells that are linked to your ex, from their shower gel to their laundry detergent. 

2. Swap out triggering decor items with new buys  

It's understandable if you want to rid your space of anything that reminds you of your ex, so don't feel bad about switching out triggering items for new picks. 

"Moving triggering items out of sight or out of your life is a good first step," says realtor and property manager Melissa Zimbelman. "I like to follow that up with bringing in something fresh to distract myself. Fresh flowers or some new plants that need my attention to survive are always good. Some new accent pillow covers or a fresh bed linen set or duvet cover that I chose myself makes me happy. Buying a beautifully-covered, fresh journal to collect my thoughts and new plans in, feels comforting and refreshing."

Don't be afraid to get specific about the items that you're swapping out. If an item holds a memory that you'd rather forget, then there's no reason to keep hold of it. 

Kara Francis, mediator and divorce coach, says: “Start with a purge of all unwanted items — whether it's your former significant other's stuff that needs to be returned, and/or your personal items that no longer serve you and need to be donated or disposed of." 

She says that some objects might "carry a certain post-breakup energy," so if it's within your budget, then it's perfectly okay to donate or dispose of such items and start fresh. "However, be mindful that you aren't simply throwing everything away in order to avoid your feelings," she adds

3. Take your time 

It’s easy to want instant gratification when it comes to the look and feel of your home, especially after a breakup. While you want to get your home back to being your safe space, it’s important that you don’t rush things. 

"It takes time and love to create a home, especially if you are simultaneously navigating a break-up," says Francis. "Again, there's no rush here. There's no award for getting it done ASAP."

There are other pressing things on your to-do list you're probably worried about, so use decorating your home as a respite from that. "This isn't just another menial task you have to complete like washing the dishes — this is something fun and creative that you have complete power and control over," she says. "Lean into that, and enjoy the process!"

4. Update your bedroom 

For a lot of people, bedrooms can be the most triggering. To change the feel of the space, making little updates (think: brand new sheets, fresh candles, etc.) can be a good way to go. 

"Your bedroom should be your sanctuary and your sleep should be restorative," says divorce coach Ann Runkle. "What better way than cozy fresh sheets! Throw in a new pair of luxurious pajamas and you are off and running into your new beginning."

5. Move things around

Even if you don't purchase a whole new set of furniture, try moving things into different spots. "If you can, rearrange some furniture or items around your home to change the perspective," says Sanmeister. "Buying a new houseplant brings new life into the space and nature naturally brings calm and joy to a space."

Whether that means re-arranging each room or swapping furniture from one room to another, it doesn't matter, just as long as you're able to find a way to freshen up the space. 


How do you cleanse your house after a breakup?

Take the time to sort through all of your items and get rid of anything that you feel is triggering you to feel sad or angry. Do a deep clean to reinvigorate each room and get rid of scents that may remind you of that person. If it's possible, refresh your home with new furniture and decor items.

Should I redecorate after a breakup?

There's no right or wrong answer to this. Whether you choose to redecorate your home after a breakup depends on whether the space triggers you and brings back negative memories of your ex or the breakup. In redesigning your space, it may provide comfort and feelings of a fresh start.

Moving on after a breakup can be tough, especially when you've shared your home with that person. But by taking the time you need to process the relationship ending and taking steps to refresh your space, you can begin to move forward. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.