Mindfulness is a word that’s tossed around a lot lately. We could even call it trendy, but the core values behind the notion are not and are indeed worth noting. Being mindful of something means nothing more than taking stock in it, slowing down to really appreciate it. Bringing mindfulness into your home is really all about creating spaces that you can enjoy, appreciate, live in and relax.
Nearly 7 years ago I moved out of my marital home and started a new journey on my own with my three children. The road has been bumpy at times but I’ve seen some amazing sights from the ground and above. I’ve managed to keep my footing when times have been tough. I’ve managed to keep my wits about me when I thought everything would bottom out. I have always sought those moments and things that I value, savor, and that specifically slow me down. My home is one of those things — it has always been my everything. I’m one who needs to come home to the calm of my own space at the end of the day. And when it isn’t calm, whether due to the noise level created by three children under the same roof or the mess they (mostly) leave in their wake, I cannot relax. I have been known to clean when I am sick so that I can have order around me while I rest and get well.
Note: The images below are not my own, have been credited and sourced.
In 2012 I left a gorgeous 4,500 square foot home on top of a hill with nearly two beautifully manicured acres and an abundance of mature, healthy green trees. On Sunday mornings my husband would sit on the John Deere and, the in-ground sprinklers would rose through the grasses at dawn, greeting the early sunshine, to keep our lawns looking their best. We could hear the peepers and crickets chanting at night and the sweet melodious tunes of local birds in the early morning. Nature really does make the best alarm clock.
Although we had neighbors all around us we could see just the little red barn house at the back of the former surgeon’s property. An unattractive wire fence divided our property. During the wintertime it stood there cold, ugly, bare and punishing until the thick white snows clung to it creating the most sensational patterns. As the weather changed and winter turned to spring, the ugly wire appendage dressed itself in green as the verdant and sinewy vines and stems started their journey upward toward the sky. In the fall the vines began to fruit and mall green pellets formed and grew up into small green globes which eventually turned into stunning ruby colored grapes.
Our home, with its gorgeous bones, spacious rooms and regal setting needed a good bit of updating. While only about 20 years old (new by New England standards) the decor and design were quite dated and not at all our taste. This was a project we would tackle over time, slowly, lovingly. The things we could tackle immediately we did… the repainting, removing carpets, etcetera… Those things needing to wait: renovating bathrooms, kitchen and the massive play room over the 3 car garage. We began in the kitchen as we ripped down worn and faded faux marble wallpaper and replaced it with a coat of fresh leaf green paint. The space was transformed immediately — vibrant with a zen-like energy. The far wall, comprised of mostly windows and the sliding doors just to the left opened up onto a verdant backyard. The skylights over the generously sized eating area opened to the sky. The kitchen felt very much an extension of the outdoors. And despite the high energy and activity level in that room, it was a zen space for me. I do miss that kitchen terribly!
Once the kitchen was repainted we went on to tackle the living and dining rooms. The living room, with its deliciously oversized mouldings felt dark and heavy with the dark green plaid fabric walls and even darker, heavier brown floral drapes. The walls were prepped and painted in shadow stripes. I selected two shades of blue, one in a high gloss and the other in a matted hue to create a sense of drama and elegance. We continued the darker below the chair rail. And we never did replace the heavy drapes with any window treatment to allow for the natural light to shine through from the oversized windows. I selected blue with a purpose, for its sense of calm, even with guests in deep conversation, raucous laughter and the clinging and clanging of silver against ceramic or China. I wanted to create a space that was elegant but one which was also comfortable and relaxing, so that guests could comfortably linger over coffee and dessert. Comfort is always a priority of mine. It does nothing to look good or have a space that looks good if one can’t be comfortable.
The dining room opened up to the living room, also very generously sized and bright. This room posed a bit more of a problem. The previous homeowners — owners of a large and well known local furniture store — bought heavily into the faux marble trend of the late 80s so much so that the home was covered with it. In this room wallpaper as thick as corrugated cardboard was so well adhered to the walls that we worried about the damage it would cause the walls should we try to take it off. We opted instead to leave it in place and paint over it. In order to do so we removed strips of it at the seams and filled it with a compound that would serve to fill the gaps and seal the seams. After this ordeal had been completed we painted the room in a handsome putty color, ivory gloss mouldings and carried a lighter shade of blue used in the dining room to the living room ceiling to create a sense of continuum. When we removed the godawful faux yellow marbled paint from the fireplace we unveiled and restored the original gorgeous marble. (I mean what were these people thinking?!) This would be the only neutral colored space in the house. With the sun pouring in from three separate directions, the room’s hues were constantly changing - something I thought quite magical.
We brought color upstairs into the guest bathroom, the children’s rooms and the Master Bedroom. Working with various hues of blue, lavender, red, pink and green… Downstairs a softer shade of green was brought into a bathroom, yellow was the color I chose for our sunny laundry room and tranquil blue in the family room balanced the rather rustic wood and stone fireplace. Our colors were chosen carefully and methodically so that each space would feel welcoming and relaxing. Ten years ago wallpaper hadn’t become as popular as it is now or I likely would have chosen to paper a couple of the rooms. Without realizing so, I have always used color in my homes to create mindful spaces.
These days I tend to gravitate to blues and greens as I find them soothing and grounding whereas in the past have also used shades of yellow, red and pink and would love one day to have one painted black. But alas, I am in a rental now, a white house inside and out and while I’d very much love to repaint every room, and while I’m sure my landlord wouldn’t mind, I’d rather not spend my money enhancing someone else’s property. When I first moved here I quite welcomed the white but I did tire of it rather quickly. I have added color best I can with accessories - pillows, sheets, rugs, flowers. It can be said that although not perfect, my home is indeed my sanctuary. It is a place where I can work, rest and enjoy myself and my children.
A mindful home is one where you feel relaxed and at rest, where you can look around and appreciate all that you have. It is one that is not cluttered, overly decorated or relying on decorated trends. A mindful home is one where you feel at peace, safe and comfortable. Below, some tips on how to decorate your living spaces mindfully.
21 Ways to Mindfully Decorate your Home
Surround yourself with items that have meaning
Get rid of all clutter
Get rid of all non-essentials
Treat each room as the separate space that it is - ie the living room isn’t the dining room and the bedroom isn’t an office
Do not create an office space in your bedroom
Incorporate items of sentimental meaning into your decor
Incorporate items collected from travels into your decor, ie small sculptures, photographs, artwork
Incorporate items that inspire you, great novels, art books, etc
Clear off all surfaces and create beautiful vignettes that you won’t want to bury under clutter
Add some candles as mood lighting
Bring in fresh flowers once a week
Incorporate plants and small trees into your home
Create spaces that are inviting
Create spaces that encourage relaxation
Incorporate diffusers with essential oils
Declutter once every other week or so
Toss 10 things into the bin every day
Add color, hues like blues and greens automatically invoke a feeling of calm
If you have a dining room, add cushions to the chairs to ensure your guests are comfortable enough to linger around
Set the tone with lighting - during the daytime push aside curtains and shades to allow for maximum sunlight. In the evening use dimmers to relax after a busy workday
Add soft textures to your home with rugs, pillows, blankets