Home, whether a humble studio apartment or a dream house, is a critical facet of well-being, a spiritual headquarters from which good health springs. Everyone in the family, including two- and four-legged children, can benefit from an environment that feels like a sacred space. Creating nourishing corners, along with more open areas that feed the senses and a system of functional ease, can be a deep and rewarding act of self-care.
“Our home is by far one of the most significant investments we’ll ever make. Our spaces are not meant to be stagnant, but to evolve through each stage of our lives,” says feng shui expert Bridget Saraka
, of Saskatoon, Canada.
Ali English, owner of Eldrum Interiors
, in Lincolnshire, England, concurs, “We all need a safe holt to return to, that space where we can be utterly ourselves, utterly at peace.”
Sanctuary and Mental Health
Investing in harmony does not require a high price tag. “It’s important to have a mental vision of what this means, and for me, there are three major components: peace, order and beauty,” says Texas-based designer Rachel Anne Ridge, who blogs at HomeSanctuary.com
Like water and wind, harmony within the home should also flow. “Listening to the energies in your home and taking the time to move furniture around until you have a placement that makes your head feel calm is really important,” says English.
Feng shui—the ancient Chinese system of creating harmony in personal and professional spaces—prioritizes color psychology. “More times than I can count, I’ve had clients report loss of motivation after painting their homes taupe. They’ve also reported weight gain and digestive disorders,” says Saraka. “It’s best to use colors that reflect light, especially for homes in locations where winter is long and days are short.”
Disruptive clutter is another key player in eliciting discontent, especially for children that are sensitive to environmental stimulus. “A space that is cluttered can cause emotional distress, resulting in less-than-desirable behaviors,” says Saraka. “Something as simple as the lines of the furniture can feel sharp, creating anxiety. It all matters.”
Soul-inspiring visuals, satisfying textures and natural, delightful scents are all desirable domestic companions. A small, ambient lamp in a bathroom or a spring-colored sheer in a window can invite the benediction of light.
“Step outside the room and then come back in as a guest,” suggests Ridge. “What do you notice with your newcomer’s eyes? What does the room feel like? What smells are you aware of? Do you need to move a cat litter box to another area of the house? Would an area rug soften the hard sounds of foot traffic? Pause on each of your senses and make notes.”
Bringing the Outdoors In
Incorporating organic elements can boost the vitality of any living space. “House plants are a wonderful way to bring the green world into our homes. Go for organic ones if possible, and if you’re worried you may forget to water them, consider plants like scented leaf pelargoniums; for example, Royal Oak. They thrive on neglect and can also provide some wonderful room fragrances,” says English. She also suggests including natural or quality faux branches and blooms in the home as ways of decorating—berries to provide splashes of rich orange, pine cones dabbed with metallic paint, or even long stems of ivy leaves twisted into garlands.
Having live plants in the home also benefits physical health. “Adding a few real plants to a space can help reduce environmental toxins found in paints and manmade products, as well as electromagnetic frequencies—by-products of electronics.”
Ridge concurs, “Cacti can be a charming alternative for those of us who don’t have a green thumb, but still want to enjoy a living plant indoors.”
In the end, a place of sanctuary comes from a place of love. English sums it up best: “If you pour that sense of love into your home, you will, over time, find that mirrored back at you, and you’ll feel it whenever you go through your front door.”
Tips from our experts
Feng shui tips from Bridget Saraka:
Create daily rituals with small, manageable goals that’ll help sustain balance and harmony.
Give everyone in the household daily, weekly and monthly chores to help maintain a clean, healthy, safe, beautiful and calm home.
Make sure that each space has optimum lighting, that all light bulbs work and window treatments are opened daily to fill each room with natural light.
Position the beds in the home to have a view of the door entering the room. This is called the “command position”, which instills a sense of control over the immediate environment.
Practical suggestions from Rachel Anne Ridge:
Start with the floor. Simply pick up and straighten the items there—shoes, books, papers, coats and that stack of items earmarked for donating that you set in the corner weeks ago. A clear walk space gives you immediate energy and a sense of order.
Use a timer. Setting it for five minutes (or giving yourself just enough time to let a teabag steep in a cup) is perfect motivation to unload a dishwasher, clear the junk mail from the counter or wipe down a sink.
Reduce indoor noise pollution. Installing felt bumpers on cabinet doors and drawers is a tiny activity that yields big results. Cover the feet of kitchen chairs with pads and use fabric placemats on tables. Throw rugs can also soften sounds. Upgrading speakers for TVs and devices can improve sound quality and facilitate lower volumes.
Inspiration from Ali English:
One of my most favorite guidelines is William Morris’ adage, “Keep nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
Never feel that you are “stuck” with where you’ve placed furniture and items. I move things around my home on a regular basis, only really settling when furniture has found the place where it merges most perfectly with the overall energy of a room.
Begin by creating a “mood board” where you collect ideas that inspire you.