One of my great discoveries of the last ten years has been the understanding that my home space does not adapt to me, rather I adapt to it. Space has meaning, space has power. The way my home is set up is what determines my daily rhythm and what influences my relationships, my work output and, to a large degree, my mental and physical health.
I am not sure how I could have thought otherwise, and I am not alone in the delusion that somehow by force of will I could mentally power through a less than optimal living situation with little effect on my life. It is the “I can tough it out,” or “ I am stronger than it” faith in my gigantic self-will that may lay behind this silliness, and a bit of old-style Calvinism too, no doubt. Functional activities such as keeping us warm, dry, and safe are the very bottom of the pyramid of what our space provides for us. It can constrict us or it can nurture and expand us. We are adaptable creatures and we will change subject to the dictates of our surroundings.
Beauty matters; it has an impact on us, as does the lack of it. This is often thought of as the provenance of the rich, but there is beauty everywhere; it is often just a matter of making smart choices. Making space lovely is to care for the soul via the conduit of the eye.
Interiors That Make Us Feel Good
Plants, light, atmosphere, making special zones for certain moments in the day, these all count and are not high-cost indulgences. They are simple improvements to our world and our way of living. I usually advise “don’t sweat the small stuff in life,” but in this case, the small stuff is what it is all about.
Renowned furniture and interior designer Ilse Crawford describes her practice as “creating environments where humans feel comfortable; public spaces that make people feel at home; and homes that are habitable and make sense for the people who live in them.” Ilse understands the importance of texture, material, light, and tone. She gets it that having a special place to eat, to read, to contemplate is important to our humanity.
Design That Nurtures
The reality is, we have a relationship with our spaces; it can be wonderful, or it can be irritating. The small things really matter, even if we tell ourselves they don’t. I love a good guilty binge viewing of Arch Digest editor Amy Astley’s Instagram account, but I don’t live in a castle, nor am I planning on it anytime soon. What we are talking about here is the personal warmth of feeling your space gives you, the human amplification space should provide. Sure, you can go wild and make a magazine-worthy trophy space if that is your ambition. That is not my jam. As much as I enjoy looking at the fantasy of glimmering perfection, I prefer to live in a space that I can really live in, that expands and nurtures me, a space that serves me rather than me serving it.
I am hearing that many of us are spending more time at home than in the recent past. This may be a good time to have a look around, do a quick inventory, and ask yourself, what bothers me? How can I make this space give me delight? It may be a question of getting in a Marie Kondo mood and removing some built up visual noise. It may be changing the color of a room to one that is more suited to how you feel today, rather than 5 years ago. It may mean using some of the going out budget on a really lovely piece of furniture that will last you decades.
I’m currently eyeing this chair, Elysia, and its cute friend Nino the Ottoman. Looks like a cozy place to read a book, no?
Solve the Small Irritations
Part of the art of living well is not settling for tolerating small, solvable irritations. The scale of your needs is entirely personal. I have a thing about high ceilings, concrete floors and monotone furnishings. I like my walls Benjamin Moore China White. I also need to have my books, especially my photo books, organized in a way that I can see them easily. To me, these are simple things. For someone like Tom Ford, I am sure he would be driven mad at the wide range of browns in the loft. It is all about you and making you feel good.
Wellness is a vast, encompassing word. If we can say that wellness is a synonym for living well, then our personal space is very much part of that Venn diagram.