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“What we call a home is merely any place that succeeds in making more consistently available to us the important truths which the wider world ignores, or which our detracted irresolute selves have trouble holding on to. As we write, so we build: to keep a record of what matters to us.” —Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness
After a year of living in our homes more intimately than we might have ever imagined, wished or want to do again, even those of us who enjoy our time at home greatly and most ardently (include me in the latter category!) may be feeling the stirrings of stepping out of the house if only to be able to long to return and savor the joyous step over the threshold.
The past year has inspired more than a few posts to help revel in our time in our sanctuaries, one is shared below – 22 Ideas for Making Working and Staying Home A Pleasure – along with many other well-being focused writings. However, I would be remise if I didn’t admit to feeling a longing to maintain the pace, the comfort and the deep love for being home which grew ever deeper during this past year of the 2020 pandemic.
Admittedly, I consider myself fortunate to have a home to provide safety, warmth and comfort as well as a job which continues to pay even if I am working from home. The more time to be at home gave me much more time to read, watch and deepen my own awareness to expand my understanding, broaden my awareness and continue to learn, listen and remain engaged. Specifically in my own personal world, the extended amount of time gave me the ability to assess what was working, what wasn’t and most importantly clarify the ‘why’.
Neurologists have shared through studies if the mind is preoccupied endlessly with redundant tasks and chronic stress, the lack of energy to explore whether such a job, such a lifestyle is best or to explore what would be better and how to achieve it or seek support is diminished, even extinguished.
A feeling of well-being doesn’t magically occur or waltz into our lives. It must be fostered, regularly maintained and nurtured. And because it requires our attention, the ability to be present in our lives and the courage to be honest, it takes energy – emotional energy – which is a finite resource.
The world feels as though it wants to jump, leap, bound forward whether we are ready for it to or not, and understandably for good reason. However, what I have been grappling with during this past month or two is what type of life do I want to walk back in to?
Our homes, for many of us, provide the foundation from where we spring forward into our hopes, dreams, travels, relationships, and return to seeking a place to reënergize, rest and assess how to step forward tomorrow.
Before we leap back into the world beyond our front door fully, why not tend to our homes to ensure they can provide the powerful embrace to strengthen our well-being each time we spend time within its four walls?
Today I’d like to share with you four ideas for creating a home to nurture your well-being. Inspired by an article I read in the most recent issue of The English Home magazine, simply remembering what daily life was only 12 months ago, deepens my gratitude for even just the simple ability to not race to the grocery store frantically worried the basics for daily living and eating will be stocked. We have grown, we have learned, our gratitude has had the opportunity to deepen with the simplest of daily events and moments, and so as a way to bring closure to a year in which our homes provided us with necessary refuge, let’s ensure our homes continue to offer such a gift. Because if our homes can keep us going during the toughest of times, imagine what a nurturing home can do in the best of times? 🙂
“The aim is to create a design that goes deeper than aesthetics, but also solves problems and evokes positive emotions.” —The English Home magazine, April 2021 US issue
1.Eliminate the physical and mental clutter
“‘Looking around is more stressful when there’s more clutter’ . . . keep rooms clutter-free, display things that are really meaningful (rooms that are too stark are also stress-inducing).” —The English Home “A Happy, Healthy Uplifting Home“, April 2021
Marie Kondo’s sage and timeless advice resonants beyond our desire to organize because when we do heed her wisdom, the quality of our lives within and outside of our homes improves. Having space to breathe, not feeling burdened enables the mind to be clear to think, to dream, to be more fully present, and it is in being fully present that we deepen our appreciation for the life we have the opportunity to live and navigate forward on our journey and do so in alignment with our purpose and passion.
Sleep is deeper and swifter, stress is reduced and our physical bodies as well as our minds are healthier. So much gained by tending to something entirely doable when we set our minds to tending to it.
2. Decorate with your senses in mind
“Without honouring any gods, a piece of domestic architecture . . . can assist us in the commemoration of our genuine selves.” —Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness
Described as Biophilic design – a love of life/nature, acknowledging the power of nature and welcoming it into our lives with the colors, materials, textures and patterns we choose, affects the subconscious more deeply than we may initially realize. Welcoming natural materials into the space, fewer synthetic items, and recognizing the power of tones – warm and cool – in the colors we choose for our moods, reminds us to know ourselves well before we choose that hot trend color of the year we saw on Pinterest.
“The materials around us will speak to us of the highest hopes we have for ourselves. In this setting, we can come close to a site of mind marked by integrity and vitality. We can feel inwardly liberated. We can, in a profound sense, return home.” —Alain de Botton
My own approach in Le Papillon has been inspired by the places in nature which bring me calm – the ocean, a blue sky day, the blooms in the garden – my predominant color palette has been greens, blues and yellows with neutral beiges and whites as backdrops. Not only am I happier with my choices, as they are coming together well, but letting my own awareness lead my decision-making rather than trends ensures longevity.
~Explore specific ways to decorate for each of the five senses: Why Not . . . Create a Sanctuary for Your Senses?
3. Decorate for your physical as well as emotional needs
“We depend on our surroundings obliquely to embody the moods and ideas we respect and then to remind us of them.”
The housing market is booming for a variety of reasons, and speaking from my neighborhood’s own influx and shifting of neighbors selling and moving as well as those buying and arriving in the neighborhood, much has to do with needing the type of space which works best for those in the house. From office space, a yard, more privacy and family space, homeowners became acutely aware of what was needed over this past year. Whether this boom is temporary as life shifts outside of the home or will remain as the new normal materializes, nobody can know for sure, but what many of us came to realize were the needs we neglected pre-pandemic which took a toll on our mental health and thereby our relationships and interactions with the greater world.
In my own house, I am actually finding the neutral palette of grey/taupe throughout my home on every single wall and ceiling to be a gift. Initially, uninspired by this paint choice of the previous owners, what it has given me is a clean canvas onto which I can bring the warmth, bring the mood I need into each room based on the activities that will take place within that particular space.
With each room I have styled and decorated so far (see here – mudroom, foyer, primary bedroom, kitchen), once I made the change of wall color (usually a wallpaper selection), trim color and balance of soft and hard surfaces, the entire feel of the room was elevated and more in alignment with the life I lived within my house.
Patience and honest contemplation are the two necessary ingredients for knowing how to move forward, but once you know, you know, and the change you make will change the quality of your everyday in ways you never imagined possible.
4. Add your personal touches thoughtfully and intentionally
“Just like an entire room, a single picture can assist us in recovering the lost, significant parts of ourselves.”
Mastering our mind sits at the foundation of a life of true contentment. Putting the skills into practice to be the master of my own mind is a journey, one that I am on at the moment: learning, reading, practicing, and the cycle continues. I have been reading Jay Shetty’s Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace an Purpose Every Day, and while I look forward to sharing a detailed post and/or podcast episode soon, a simple detail of our daily lives to remember is what we feed our minds determine the quality and strength of our minds.
“How do we feed [the mind]? By what we read and hear. By who we spend time with. By what we do with our time. By where we focus our energy and attention.” —Think Like a Monk
Initially, the quote may appear to have no direct relation to the decor or our homes, but actually, our homes are a source of peace or strife, encouragement or regression, strength or suffering.
While holding on to certain memories is encouraged, hanging on to the wrong memories, too much of the past, anything which anchors us in such as a way as to discourage growth are items to reconsider.
Hang the picture, situate the award and arrange the souvenir to remind yourself of what you are capable of, a moment in which you surpassed your own expectations, experienced such deep joy of the likes you never thought was possible and grew in ways which transformed your life for the better. Thoughtfully and intentionally decorating requires a discerning and self-aware mind. As we grow, our decor may change as we need different reminders and our experiences accumulate, which means we need to remain present in our lives, dance with the world as it presents itself and bypass the trends. After all, our lives unfold in the most unexpected ways, and the potential for growth and celebration equally so. Let your home reflect what buoys your being, brightens your day and deepens your appreciation for being alive.
“We may occasionally and guiltily experience the desire to create a home as a wish to vaunt ourselves in front of others . . . instead, at its most genuine, the architectural impulse seems connected to a longing for communication and commemoration, a longing to declare ourselves to the world a register other than words . . . an ambition to let others know who we are . . . and in the process, to remind ourselves.” —Alain de Botton
Our homes have the ability to provide far more than shelter, warmth and security. When we recognize the potential for an architectural space to affect our minds and beings in ways we may not have fathomed possible by inanimate objects, much like a magic power hidden away from the world, we nurture our unique gifts and most sincerest selves providing encouragement to live and love well no matter what the world outside our doors presents each day.
I recently heard the quote while watching a favorite British series that quality and thoughtful items for our homes – from the fabrics, the furniture, the appliances – items which will last a tremendously long time, function as we need them to without frustration and provide a peace when we step into each room – make our lives easier. When we eliminate everyday stress whether caused by a broken appliance which when working properly speeds up our ‘have-to’ tasks which may seem minuscule individually or a bed or linens which prevent a restful sleep, we actually eliminate a tremendous amount of expended energy. What we give back to ourselves is the space to think clearly, act thoughtfully from a space of abundance rather than scarcity providing more natural inclination to work and communicate better with others. Most importantly, we give to ourselves clarity about how to live well.
Our well-being, like our good physical health, when prioritized, changes our lives and the lives around us for the better. Enjoy befriending your home and savor a sanctuary which will elevate your everyday whether you spend every day there or not as we emerge from the past year.
SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY FROM THE ARCHIVES
14 Ways to Create a Happy Home, episode #278