We’re now spending more time at home than ever before. Research has suggested we spend around 90% of our day inside, and that was even before lockdown and a global pandemic. Our homes have become a safe, trusty backdrop to our increasingly stressful and multi-faceted daily lives; they’re now our workplace, our school, our local coffee shop, our home cinema and our sanctuary from it all. No wonder they need to work hard for us, helping support our mood, adapt to our needs and evolve with our style. I’ve always believed that our homes should be designed not only around how we want them to look, but how we want them to feel to be in. Our interior spaces are not stage sets frozen in time from a glossy magazine. They’re spaces that are alive with meaning. Our homes should be able to connect with us on a deeper level and make us feel at ease, whether that’s surrounded by our favourite record collection, our most well-thumbed cookbooks or our much-loved pets.
More and more we need a sanctuary of our own that we can escape to. We’re always switched on, wired and tired from seemingly endless bad news, unhealthy social media scrolls and all our other daily demands. When we come home we should be able to breathe a sigh of relief as we step through the door. Our homes, when designed around our needs and not just our wants, can help us feel calm and restored. Ready to go back out into the world and do it all again.
But how might you start to animate those blank walls and create your own retreat? In the first of a series of blog posts for Scenario on how architecture and interiors can marry together to become a backdrop for life, I’m sharing my tips for making your home a sanctuary this autumn, or indeed in any season.
Appeal to all the senses
When curating a home, you want to remember all the senses, not just sight. Texture is important to help create a tactile, soothing environment you want to spend time in. Soften those clean architectural lines with natural materials that you can’t help but touch. When you’re surrounded by smooth, perfect surfaces, it helps to break it up with some subtle imperfections. This might be the rich grain on a wooden dining table, a leather armchair that beautifully patinates with time, or naturally creased linen that gives a relaxed, effortless appeal. Don’t forget scent as well – certain fragrances can help evoke happy memories or transport us to favourite places.
Think about how you react to colour
Colour is a very subjective thing; we all have different reactions to different tones. What matters is how colour makes you feel. The colour red can remind us of emergency signs and impending danger, so might be best suited in a space where you want to stay alert and invigorated. Cooler colours, like green, have strong associations with nature and can make us feel tranquil. Blue, however, can leave some people feeling cold. The safest bet when creating a space that can stand the test of time is to stick to calming neutrals. They needn’t be dull and boring; think of them as a simple backdrop for everything else to tell the story. In uncertain times we need a bit of comfort, which maybe why beige is everywhere in the interiors world at the moment.
Bring the outdoors in
We’re becomingly increasingly disconnected to the natural world, especially when it comes to living in urban spaces. This is where biophilic design can help. Biophilia literally translates as a ‘love of nature’. In the design world, it translates as a set of principles that can allow us to reconnect with nature and support our wellbeing. This might mean using natural patterns and forms that bring to mind those we might recognise from outside our homes, or maximising day light to create bright, airy spaces that help lift our mood. Plants can help improve air quality, and have also been show to reduce stress levels and even improve productivity in the work place.
It’s your home so you make the rules right? You home should be a personal expression of your tastes, hopes, dreams and aspirations. Right from the beginning of the design process, think about what you really like to do in your home and what makes you feel good. Then design around that so it can better support you everyday. Some people may need a quiet corner to read a book to feel calm, others might prefer to relax with friends by cooking a big, cosy meal. Look around you and surround yourself with familiar objects that evoke happy feelings. A home comes alive when it’s animated with books, unique finds and favourite artworks. If something is no longer serving you, let it go and try to live with less, but better.
About the Author: Cate St Hill
Cate St Hill is a home interiors writer, stylist and designer. Her work focuses on simple, everyday interiors that endure beyond trends. Her ethos is all about curating a home with less but better – prioritising simplicity, sustainability and design built to last. Cate is interested in the relationship between wellbeing and interiors, believing that a home should be designed as much around how it feels to be in as the way it looks. Her blog, catesthill.com, has been rated one of the top ten interior blogs in the UK and her work has been featured in Grazia, Elle Decoration, The Telegraph and The Sunday Times.