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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #105
The moment of relief. The moment that signifies to your worries to wait at the door while you step inside and let yourself unwind. Knowing we have a home to walk into each evening, afternoon and wake up to each morning is an amazing blessing that fulfills a powerful cornerstone as we cultivate a life of fulfillment.
The home we reside in need not be large, it need not be new or for that matter historic, but it needs to be our sanctuary. And as far back as when TSLL blog began, the reasons and ways to have a sanctuary were shared. Even if the location of your sanctuary changes after a couple of years or a decade or two, and thus the size and architecture do as well, there are 11 simple ways to make any home your sanctuary.
Having myself moved from a 1930 Norman styled home with great space to a small ranch-style home with an expansive yard, there are key principles that can be applied to each without it feeling like I am trying to replicate the exact same home but also ensure that my new home becomes my sanctuary as well in very short order.
1.Respect the architectural design
As much as we may want to fight this basic premise, at the end of the process of decorating, we will be thankful we followed its sage advice. A French chateau can no more be decorated with modern, streamlined interiors than a couture Giambattista Valli can be paired with a grunge flannel button-up. While yes, the unexpected pairing would make a statement and be trendy for a moment, but when it comes to our homes, we want to decorate in such a way that will stand the test of time, something we can build upon, continually add too and finesse as we get to know the house.
Much like letting a child show us what they are passionate about rather than forcing our passions upon them, when we allow the truth of the house and the child to be revealed, true beauty can then be expressed.
2. Let the sofa sing
If you have room for a sofa, or even a love seat, invest. As someone who is currently changing my sofa and have been wanting to do for a long time, it a process that requires patience. Why? It is one of the most powerful players in the primary common area of your home (depending upon the size of your house). When you get the style, the color, the size, right, everything else is elevated that you pair it with. Everything.
Whether you buy it brand new or purchase a consignment piece and have it reupholstered, take the time to determine what you want and then be willing to wait until you find exactly what you’re looking for.
3. Make the kitchen your sous chef
Ah, the kitchen. Probably my favorite room in the house or the room which shares the top seed with my living room. Okay, right now my back patio is running a close second, and my bedroom is always a beloved space, but needless to say, I love being in the kitchen. Partly because of what is concocted in this space, but also because it a pleasure to be able to cook as it forces me to focus and let go of the past and future if only for a mere 30 minutes to an hour while I pull my meal together (all the while sipping a glass of wine from time to time).
The idea of making your kitchen your sous chef is to make everything that you need accessible and eliminate the rest. Ample cupboard space is a luxury, so if you have it, utilize it and rid yourself of anything else you don’t use. Place your cooking utensils in ceramic cylinder holders by the stove, create a small tray with a ramekin full of course salt and flaky salt, a pepper mill, a container of oil olive and balsamic vinegar. For the ingredients and tools you use often, make them easy to reach for.
4. Create an vignette for entertaining
Whether you set up a bar cart, or use a small table, create a space where all of your entertainment needs are organized and styled: liquor, wine glasses, bucket for chilling white and rosé wine, cocktail supplies and bottle and wine openers. Add a few signature touches such as a candles, a vase, etc. and you are set for any opportunity to entertain one or many guests.
5. Spruce up the exterior
An easy way to spruce of your home no matter what the architectural exterior looks like is to add Mother Nature. In the front, place a pair of matching pots with similar annuals or perennials that you will plant after the summer somewhere else in the yard. Add a hanging basket or two. If you have tables and pedestals, add pots and plants as well. For your door add a wreath if the design calls for it and keep the stoop swept and welcoming for guests.
If you have a balcony or a back patio, plant a mini herb garden, find a simple, but basic patio set with table and chairs, accessorizing with outdoor pillows (I love these) and below are a few more that may speak to your style. Create a space that you not only enjoy in the mornings as you savor your breakfast and hot tea, but your guests will as well when you have them over for a dinner party al fresco.
~Mercury Row indoor/outdoor throw pillow (many other designs)
6. Let the television play second fiddle
With any gathering space other than an entertainment or game room, the focus should be on people rather than things. Even if there is only one person, the idea is to create a space that allows you to relax, enjoy and engage comfortably with our guests, with our reading material or simply step away from the outside world and unwind. The television, something I have been editing in my own life as I shared two years ago, should be secondary.
For example if you have a television in your living room, rather than having all of the furniture facing it, place it instead, in a slightly adjacent corner. Or if your fireplace is the focal point, hang your television above it. The beauty of the flat, narrow television screens is that they are capable of being put in hideaway and less obvious places. Ideally conversation and comfort first, and then when we need to turn on the television to watch the new season of Grace & Frankie as to step away from our thoughts, it is available, but not staring us in the face.
7. Create a reading station
An idea that I have recently brought into my new home came by the way of “where do I put this piece of furniture?”. And how I was able to answer that question was to create a reading station. Everyone’s will be different, but what I have done and have been tickled with is an extra small antique table that fits the space between my open living and dining room areas. I have placed my record player, as well as a lamp on top and the remaining space is where my monthly magazines, most recent newspapers and books go as a reminder of what I can read each morning either at the breakfast table or during my evening moments of relaxing.
Per your furniture and space, yours will be uniquely your own, but why not create a space that encourages reading and curiosity about the world and ideas? It doesn’t mean you’ll read every single page of each magazine, but something may just catch your eye and who knows what creative ideas will result?
8. Blankets, pillows, blankets and more pillows
Such simple additions to any room can sometimes be the toughest decisions. Perhaps that is just me, but the end result, when you eventually do decide on the proper print and hue for your sofa, armchairs, beds and reading nooks is that they finish the space and beg to be enjoyed. Sometimes the colors and prints we want can be found at our local boutiques and sometimes, we might, as I have done, have to go to a fabric store, pick exactly what we want and have someone make the pillow for us. Either way, again your patience and knowledge of what you need will pay off when it all comes together.
With more flowers at my fingertips from a variety of sources, I am loving my weekly ritual of at least two fresh bouquets in my house. And as the flowers themselves are always different, I am realizing a variety of vases are needed as well. From bud vases to square vases, to clear glass to colorful opaque whimsical designs, this summer I am excited to visit the many yard sales and pop into second-hand stores as well as consignment shops to see what I can find. Such a simple decor detail that can make for a great signature touch.
10. Prep for guests
Whether you have a guest bedroom or not, you undoubtedly will have guests that stop by for a visit, dinner or a small cocktail gathering to celebrate. Be sure to supply your guest bathroom, adding simple touches of beautiful towels, soaps, lotions and perhaps a playful framed image or two. Your guests will feel comfortable and welcomed, and you will always be ready for an unexpected visit.
11. Splurge on bed linens
Last but not least, the master bedroom. The space we let all of our defenses down each and every night. A couple of times on the blog, I have shared my bed linens with you. Christy linens as well as Perfect Linens make beautiful and luxuriously soft sheets, and most recently I have been introduced to Matouk Fine Linens (I am especially loving the Clementine collection below in Azure). To invest in ourselves when it comes to our boudoir is not an excessive expense, especially knowing the power of a good night’s sleep. While it may take time to save up for the linens you want, gradually remind yourself that you are worth it. Because when you do eventually slip into your bed between 500 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets with just enough layers for warmth, you will thank yourself.
The good news I have discovered as I settle into my new home is that no matter where we live, we can make it our sanctuary with simple touches and attention to detail. From the first welcome of the potted plants at the front door, to the kitchen that is set up to help us create a delicious meal each and every night.
Enjoy making your home your sanctuary.
~The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington
~View a video with Arianna Huffington reading a few excerpts from her new book here.
A few tips Arianna suggests, based on science to ensure a good night’s sleep:
- Remove the blue light! Your electronics that is.
- Use low-wattage incandescent bulbs in your bedroom
- Keep it cool (60-66 degrees Fahrenheit). Above 75 or below 54 and sleep is disrupted.
- Indulge in regular physical exercise.
- Let your worries rest too. (View below a quote Arianna keeps by her bed to read as a reminder each night.)
“Finish every day, and be done with it . . . You have done what you could — some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as fast you can, tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson