By Joshua Smith
The first home I bought was a weekend place in Brenham, Texas. I remember pulling into the crushed-gravel driveway and being captivated by the property’s rolling green pasture peppered with majestic oak trees. This land was beautiful, but the house—a neglected cottage—needed work.
I immersed myself in studying interior decoration and design before setting out to decorate my new home. More than just a shelter, this place became an extension of me: what I valued, what I loved, what I found beautiful and inspiring. I filled it with artwork that stirred me. Objects that told stories. And here’s what happened: every time I walked in the door, the stresses of the day would melt away. I would come back to my center by relaxing in this comfortable space. I could be inspired there. I could connect. This was when I realized “the power of home.”
At that point, I knew that this was my true calling. So I pursued a career in interior design to teach others how to create homes that can replenish and nurture them.
Since the November election, it feels like we could all use some extra replenishment and nurturing. The frustration, anxiety, and fear running through the collective consciousness has left us exhausted, stressed, and even angry. Self-care is more important than ever as we navigate these uncertain times. An aspect of self-care that sometimes gets neglected is the art of creating homes that can nurture us. Our environments affect every aspect of our lives. They can become our stressors or our sanctuaries. When designed consciously, they nourish our spirits, inspire our minds, and enhance the connections to ourselves, our loved ones, and the divine. And when the outside world is stressful, we need those connections more than ever.
Here is a quick overview of six key techniques that can help you start living more beautifully and with more meaning at home:
• Know Who You Are
One of my spiritual teachers asked me this question: What does your bliss look like? At the time, I had no idea. She replied, “Well, then how are you going to live a blissful life if you don’t even know what your bliss looks like?” Start here: make a list of things you love and that bring you joy. How can you bring more of these things into your home? For example, I love to wake up, pour coffee in my favorite mug, settle into my comfy chair with the morning light streaming in, and contemplate my day or read something uplifting.
• Add Your Personality
Buy art that moves you. Collect things from your travels and incorporate them into your design. Choose items that tell stories of who you are, or that inspire you. For instance, one of my clients loves airplanes, so we hung a beautiful photograph of a propeller opposite his bed. Now, every morning he’s inspired to rise to new heights.
• Clear Out Clutter
Clutter = Chaos. Eliminating clutter not only feels good, but it also creates space for new energy to flow into your life. If you’re feeling stuck, chances are you need a good purge. One of the best ways to ensure you get it done is to enlist a friend to help. Have your friend over for a drink, turn up the music, and go through your closets to get rid of stuff. Drawers and cabinets, too. When you have a pile of things that no longer bring you joy, donate them to an organization that supports a cause you love.
• Get Better Sleep
Sleep is critical to health and happiness. Nothing encourages good sleep more than a well-made bed. It’s a fact that people who make their beds each day are happier and more successful. Make your bedroom more restful by painting the walls a light color. Light blue promotes relaxation, and light green supports balance and harmony. Try to stay off your laptop or phone for 30 minutes before bedtime—especially if news headlines or your social-media feeds tend to agitate you. Keep the temperature cool so you can cuddle up with a comfy duvet. One of my favorite daily rituals is climbing into my bed each night and pausing to be grateful for my life and my loved ones.
• Create Sacred Space
For those who have a spiritual side, it’s important to create a sacred space to enhance the daily practices of prayer, meditation, and yoga. Carve out a special place in your home (such as the corner of a room) for all of your rituals. Having this designated space deepens your connection and enhances your spiritual growth. Create a personalized altar with a small table, stool, or bench—any piece that you love and find beautiful. Gather objects that hold spiritual significance for you. You can incorporate images or statues from a religious faith and elements from nature like crystals, shells, and feathers. Have fun with it, and include anything that helps you to connect. Fresh flowers add the perfect finishing touch. Candles and incense impart a sense of ceremony to your rituals.
• Engage the Senses
We don’t just see a beautiful interior, we experience it. A well-designed space engages the senses and nourishes the soul. Start living more beautifully at home. One of my favorite ways to do that is to make the mundane more meaningful. If you order takeout, place the meal on actual plates and sit at a table instead of in front of the TV. Add more candlelight to your life. Try dinners or baths with candles, or light a few candles on your coffee table to change the energy of the room. Fresh flowers instantly lift the mood. Even fruit in a bowl can provide the same impact.
More than just shelter, your home is an extension of who you are and how you live. By taking the time to create a conscious home for yourself, you can create spaces that allow you to live better. When we live better, we feel better. And when we feel better, we do better in the world.
Go to joshuasmithinc.com to download a free guidebook on how to “Zen Your Home with Style” that covers all of this (and more) in much greater detail. And check out more articles like this at conscioushome.com.
Since 2012, Joshua Smith has created unforgettable interiors for clients in Los Angeles, New York, and across the U.S. Smith attended New York School of Interior Design and is principal of Joshua Smith Inc. He was named a Rising Star by House Beautiful magazine and is also a contributor to The Huffington Post. For more information, contact Joshua at [email protected].