We’re all ready for a change of pace and a fresh new year. Use these 5 tips to create a peaceful home and start 2022 off right.
As an interior designer in LA, transforming homes into sanctuaries has long been a part of my job. Many of my clients live very public lives, and while they love the work, its intensity requires a space to recharge and escape. A place away from the paparazzi to let down their guard, raise their families, and immerse themselves in creative work.
And while most people don’t have to ditch the paparazzi, we’re all realizing the importance of creating spaces that offer sanctuary, peace, and rest. This year has been stressful, to say the least. In fact, psychologists say humans across the globe are living in a near-constant stress response of fight, flight, or freeze. Some, experts predict, will even experience lingering PTSD symptoms long after the pandemic ends. Between economic instability, political turmoil, health concerns, or the loss of loved ones, we’re emotionally and mentally exhausted.
We need our homes to be safe spaces in an era where the world outside feels increasingly less so.
But in over 15 years in the interior design industry, I’ve realized that most people aren’t quite sure how to create sanctuary at home. So that’s the topic we’re covering today. Because it matters, deeply. Especially now.
So, here are my 5 tips to make your home a sanctuary in 2022.
1. To Create a Sanctuary at Home: Embrace Nostalgia
I don’t know about you, but the past several years have made me increasingly nostalgic. Not only are we missing those we love, but after a couple of years of surrendered travel plans and missed out on events and traditions we look forward to all year.
If you’re feeling a little disconnected, remind yourself of happy times. Scroll through the thousands of photos stored on your phone and print some of your favorites. When you display photos of loved ones, meaningful events, and favorite travel destinations throughout the house, you give your mind little touch points throughout the day, and bring up the pleasant feelings associated with those happy memories.
Similarly, unpack a few family heirlooms you typically leave in storage and let them remind you of people and places of the past. Bust out the fancy china you typically save for special occasions. Or, make a playlist of familiar songs and listen to them over a hand-crafted cocktail at the end of the week. Any ties you can create to soothing memories and experiences will deepen a sense of connection and at peace.
2. To Design a Sanctuary at Home: Create Boundaries, Not Walls
My most-read blog of 2021 was all about the shortcomings of open-concept layouts (and how to overcome them). It’s no secret that in this nearly post pandemic era we're all feeling a need for boundaries as much as we are with connections with our families and friends.
A really important part of creating a peaceful home is having clear boundaries between spaces. In a remodel, this can be done with physical walls, of course. But you don’t need to hire a contractor to carve out some personal space at home.
There a lots of simple ways to visually divide open rooms:
Freestanding screens or room dividers
Console tables with tall lamps or accessories
Large plants or potted trees
Wall mouldings and trim
All of the above can break up long sightlines and give a more intimate feeling. And while they don’t break up sightlines within the room, area rugs are key to defining seating areas within an open floor plan.
3. To Create a Sanctuary at Home: Make It Soothing and Restful, Yet Inspiring
Soothing spaces and a peaceful home are important, no doubt. But home isn’t just where we come to relax and lay our heads. Home is now a place where we also work and create.
I think that’s where a lot of the disconnect comes in — trying to make your home serve so many functions simultaneously. To create a home that’s both peaceful and inspiring, you need to do 2 things:
First, designate spaces for different mindsets and activities. Create these boundaries as mentioned in the tip above to divide the spaces.
Then, design each space according to its purpose.
Take a cue from commercial design for a moment. Every hotel, restaurant, and retail space is thoughtfully designed to evoke a specific mood or feeling. Your favorite romantic restaurant likely has a very different color scheme and mood than say, an Anthropologie store. Because the function is different.
Take the same approach with your home’s design. Think about how you want each space to function and feel, and choose colors, furnishings, and accessories accordingly.
4. When Creating a Sanctuary at Home: Choose Your Colors Wisely
Color theory plays such an important role in interior design. We all have our favorites, so it can be a bit of a balancing act to select colors that you’re drawn to personally and ones that will actually create the feeling you want from your home.
Again, consider commercial space design. A spa/yoga studio is going to have a very different color scheme than a gym focused on high-intensity training. One is focused on creating a relaxing, soothing environment. The other is designed to boost energy and invigorate the senses.
I’m not a feng shui expert by any means, but I have had the chance to collaborate with a few on various projects throughout my career. I’m so fascinated by the mystical side of interior design, especially when it comes to color theory.
So here are some basic notes on color theory and feng shui principles:
Fire Element — Red, orange, pink, purple, and bold yellows. These colors evoke feelings of passion, drama, high-energy, and excitement.
Earth Element — Pale yellows, earthy, sandy colors, and skin tones. These hues create a sense of nourishment, stability, and calm. Even pale yellows can be energizing though, so not the best choice for a bedroom.
Metal Element — Gray, black, and white. Common neutrals in any color scheme, these hues provide precision, calm, and clarity. They make wonderful accents in any space. Bringing in metal finishes is another obvious and lovely way to incorporate the metal element into your spaces.
Water Element — Blues. From baby blues to the richest navys, blues provide calm, balance, serenity, and abundance. Blue is a fantastic color to incorporate into peaceful home design.
Wood Element — Greens, Browns. Evoking the natural world around us, greens and browns create feelings of restoration, vitality, and growth. Filling your home with natural elements, wood tones, and plants is key to creating calm, soothing spaces.
We often think of color theory in terms of paint colors, but these principles apply to any surface — from rich leathers and stone countertops to metal fixtures and finishes, color selections go a long way to creating the overall feeling and mood of your home.
5. For a Sanctuary at Home: Don’t Forget the Other Senses!
Many designers focus only on the visual and functional aspects of home design - as they should. But if you really want to create a serene home, you can’t stop there. Our other senses play key roles in our emotional and mental wellbeing. A crowded, noisy bar is wonderful when you’re in a social, energetic mood. But if your goal is focus and calm, that noise level would be incredibly stressful.
One aspect I love incorporating into my clients’ homes is custom scent design. Like color, scents have the power to invigorate our minds or help us relax, so choose accordingly. If you’re looking for scents to soothe, aim for:
Whether you opt for a diffuser, incense, or scented candles, I encourage you to incorporate soothing scents into your routine. I’ve found aromatherapy to be really important for my own peace of mind at home this year.
Here's Your New Year's Resolution:
Transform Your Home Into the Sanctuary You Need. My challenge to you? Take one or more of the tips above and intentionally integrate them into your home. Because we all deserve a place for restoration. Especially now.
Cheers to a new year, friends. May it bring you health, happiness, and peace.
Until next time,