Your Homework For This Week....

At the beginning of the summer, I had the opportunity to visit a delightful and inspiring place: Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, PA. Have you ever been there? It was a beautiful, breezy day and the sun was shining...the perfect day to delight in what is known as a "Pleasure Garden"....

It is described as "a garden of pleasure and learning, relaxing yet filled with ideas to take home." YES! And let me tell you about the idea I took home...

Chanticleer is not a garden focused on fussiness or formality. For example, botanical name tags are omitted, allowing the flow and beauty of the garden beds to just wash over the viewer.  And there are small scale vignettes within the gardens that make it feel less like a public space, and more like a personal, intimate garden. So lovely.

You see, this got me thinking about our houses...how we often spend way too little time thinking about what would delight us, and waaay too much time focusing on what will impress others.

SO, here is your assignment for this week: think of your home, inside and out, as your own pleasure garden, where you will focus on cultivating your personal enjoyment.

Don't get too grandiose and stress yourself out trying to perfect this (that is SO not pleasureful). Just focus on small things that you can add (or take away) that will bring you joy and contentment.

Keep your goal in mind of creating personal delight and enjoyment at home each day this coming week. Perhaps put a sign on your bathroom mirror simply stating "ENJOY!"

Here's the kicker---when we focus on creating this peace and happiness for ourselves, we can't help but create an atmosphere in which others will feel welcomed and at home. This contentment has a magical quality to it...you will see.

So, let's stop trying to keep up with the Jones', and stop feeling that we need to recreate a page out of our favorite decor magazine in every room. Focus on creating contentment for yourself first, and you will see the magical quality it brings to your surroundings, and how it inspires others to just feel good when visiting your home.

Second and last photos from Chanticleer's website....hope you will visit yourself!

The View From Here

This week I thought it would be fun to talk about how the rooms in your house relate to one another. How does your house feel to you?  Does the flow between rooms seem seamless? Or do you feel like there are small, halting spaces that are disjointed and closed off from one another? When creating spaces in your home, it is important to remember that no room ever acts alone, but interacts and converses with the other areas around it. And what kind of dialog they have has a huge impact on how your house feels to you and everybody else.

For example, doorways can act as a kind of picture frame that creates a composition out of the view to an adjacent room...

This is important, since creating little vignettes inside of this "picture frame" makes you want to see what is around the corner.  It  invites you into the next room with its charm and sense of balance.

 

A small house can feel much larger if you create long interior sight lines, especially from the corner of one room to the adjacent room's far corner--a long diagonal line across the interior box of the house. Nothing has changed in the dimensions of the space, but your perception of the amount of space that there is, is very, very different. This is something that can be created by widening doorways, or opening portions of walls for interior "windows." Certainly this is more involved than just moving a few pieces of furniture, but if you are frustrated by what feels like a cramped abode, then this option is far less expensive than adding on. 

In addition, site lines that sweep through rooms and terminate with exterior views enhance the feeling of openness.

Your eye is tricked--with nothing to stop it--into including that outside space as somehow part of the interior.

Finally, having a unified palette of colors pulls things together in visual harmony and space perception. Rooms that relate closely to each other in color (rather than being great in contrast) can feel as though they are borrowing space from one another since they flow so well together.

Creating a cohesive whole out of disjointed rooms can completely change one's perception of a house, and greatly increase your feeling of satisfaction in living there. What could be better than that??

These beautiful interior photos and their sources can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

A Summer Mindset

 Where is your mind in the summer? Mine is somewhere on the coast of Maine....ahhhh.

Maybe you already own your dream summer cottage, maybe you get to visit yours as a rental....or perhaps just driving by while dreaming, or flipping through a magazine. We all have a favorite place that comes to mind as Memorial Day  ushers in the season.

Most of us cannot spend the next three full months away on vacation, but we can capture some of its essence and bring it home to our everyday house, making the summer feel so much more ...summery, you know. What are the qualities of a summer cottage??

  • simplicity--when on vacation we only have the things we need with us, and nothing else. How freeing! Start to create this simplicity by throwing away, putting away, or giving away at least 10 things in each room of your house and give yourself a vacation from all of that stress and visual clutter.
  • a slower pace--make sure you have time built in to your schedule this summer just to spend quiet time at home.
  • light and bright--put away heavier, darker fabrics and rugs (you can get them back out again come September), and put some accessories around that are colorful and airy. I bet you already have some things in your house that would qualify...no shopping needed. Think sparkly clear glass vases, white bed linens, a collection of sea shells from last year's trip....
  • fresh flowers--a little life in their room goes a long way. Flowers are blooming and leaves are unfurling everywhere right now, so be sure to bring some indoors. The kitchen table, your nightstand, the bathroom sink are all places that can benefit from a blossom or two.
Here's to a relaxing, peaceful, and beautiful summer at your summer cottage--wherever it may be!

Just for Fun

I have such fond memories of when my children were small, and we would sit snuggled together on the couch reading our favorite stories.  I have to admit that a couple of stories in particular  (both co-written and illustrated by Mark Teague) were a special joy to page through for me. I don't think you will be surprised... it was because of the houses. Gracie, the little dog who has an adventure when the painters come one day to paint her house, lives in an especially lovely Victorian.

If you look closely, you can see her in the window downstairs....

 

Much to her surprise, she is put out by the painters...

and the fun begins! As we come along on her adventure, we catch glimpses of the neighborhood houses.... What a treat!

And then there is Willobee Street, a charming, picturesque, yet wacky place....

where Ma Brindle, standing on her porch below, has baked a pie so sweet and irresistible everyone (including the neighborhood cats and dogs) have overindulged...and are lulled into a sugary-sweet stupor.

The streetlight glow, the generous front porches, the gabled roof lines, the leafy green trees...they make me happy. And they capture an essence, a spirit of place that I don't know that I could put into words.

What places, fantasy or otherwise, feel that way to you? Pay attention--look for inspiration in all kinds of places. See what feels like home to your heart. This focus will help you to bring little bits and pieces of that  contentment, creativity, warmth and significance home to where you live in the real world, and we will all be better for it!

 

The wonderful books featured here are: The Great Gracie Chase: Stop That Dog!  by Cynthia Ryland & Mark Teague, and Sweet Dream Pie  by Audrey Wood & Mark Teague.