Getting To The Heart Of The Matter

bleedinghearts

OH, be still my heart!

The bleeding hearts in my garden are in full bloom right now--something that didn't seem at all possible a couple of months ago when that very patch of earth was buried under about 14 feet of snow... 

Their sweetness and beauty always show up at this time of year--and this season it seems even more timely and poignant because I see so many around me trying to bring their own hearts back into bloom after a brutally long and hard winter--both the literal and figurative kind. 

I wonder if this is something you see around you too? Or maybe your own heart feels heavy and dull in your chest…. 

Ideally, one of the places where our hearts should feel open and free--truly blossoming--is in our homes. When we are at home, I hope we can feel at home. Even if you don't, your house contains amazing healing abilities and wonderful elixirs that can help you to bud and blossom. Here's what I mean:

Our house contains our stuff, and our stuff points back to our hearts. As you know, I am not a big believer in the importance of STUFF just for stuff's sake, but we can't deny that our stuff helps us to understand ourselves sometimes--what we value, what we treasure, what we feel worthy of, what we want to create.

Our stuff at times can symbolize not only what we adore or want more of, but sometimes it can show us where our heart aches and may need to heal. Some of the stuff we choose to hold on to points us to a deep heart-centered longing or questioning of who we are and what our place is in the world. 

To be clear, this STUFF is still just stuff. What makes it powerful and either healing or damaging is the energy and symbolism we attach to it.  Sorting through our stuff gives us the opportunity to honor things about ourselves, and shed identities, stories, and burdens that are no longer serving us or helping us to move forward. I have been there myself many times. 

So, today I invite you to look at your stuff and recognize how it makes your heart feel. Find at least one thing that makes it feel heavy, and commit to removing that item from your house in the next week. No matter what. Really. Get it gone. That heaviness has no place in your home. 

Next, find at least one thing in your house that lightens your heart and put it somewhere that you can admire it this weekend.  What about it makes your heart sing? Answer this question from the heart, and feel a world of possibility come into bloom. 

 

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 80's Weren't Kind To This Room

Intense peach, powder blue, linoleum floors....

they all seemed like good ideas at the time.

This is a master bathroom that I was hired to redesign for some dear friends.  Their house was built in the 80′s in a contemporary style--and they knew that the time had come for a big change.

The existing bathroom was long, low-ceilinged, and narrow, with a single tall window at the far end.

 

Knowing that the adjacent space was a walk-in closet featuring the same type of window, and that the room was in the front gable of the house, I knew that we had the opportunity to make some really dramatic changes, gaining vertical and horizontal space, to create a stunning and very functional master bath. YAY!

It is hard to believe that the images below are of the same room....but I know they are. I was there for each step of the transformation.

 

Now with a vaulted ceiling and expanded footprint, the bathroom has a luxurious and relaxing feel.

One of the things I found to be so satisfying and fun with this project was the opportunity to use many interesting and high-quality materials. From the gable end wall highlighted with clear cedar planks (further accenting its vertical lines and feeling so at home in the house's wooded setting)....

to a Mid-Century styled ceiling fixture...to the antique botanical print framed especially for the space, the marriage of traditional and contemporary elements into a funky, eclectic mix, reflects the style of the house and its occupants.

 

Do you have any rooms in your house that are stuck in a past decade? Perhaps a Disco Dining Room or Flashdance Family Room? :) Take heart! Transformation can happen, and what used to be an eyesore can become your favorite place in the house.

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