When you think of creating an inviting and nurturing living space what comes to mind? For me, it represents how I feel when I visit my mom. The beautiful sanctuary she lives in makes me feel lovingly adored. A big part of this is the healthy connection we share. But it’s also the aroma of a roast in the oven, freshly laundered sheets, fresh flowers and fragrant candles. My mother is the mistress of creating a nourishing oasis where you can exhale and relax while taking in the beauty of a sacred feminine environment.
The almost 100-year-old Craftsman home I live in with my family is cozy and warm. The walls in our living space are painted with warm and rich colors. Granny apple green, barn red, and school bus yellow make for a colorful environment and complement all of the maple floorings and built in cabinets. Original paintings and drawings stand at attention on the walls. Most of the art was created by local artisans, friends and my young daughter. Gaze around any room and you will find a special heirloom or unique treasure from a holiday adventure. Every piece has a story. My favorite painting by Simon Bull came home with me from a shopping trip to the lanes in Brighton, UK. My favorite painting by Simon Bull came home with me from a shopping trip to the lanes in Brighton, UK. After sharing a delightful visit with David, owner of Lacock Pottery and Bed and Breakfast, a piece of his exquisite pottery traveled over the Atlantic to be displayed in our kitchen. The wool throw on my favorite chair came from a small shop in Bruges. Our second-floor hallway is covered with photographs from adventures to Hawaii, Antigua, Aruba, Scotland, England, Germany, Holland and more.
• What does your ideal environment look like?
• How does this living space make you feel?
• How does this compare to your current environment?
Here are five steps to create your sacred sanctuary:
1. Clean up your act
Creating a nurturing space begins with cleaning and de-cluttering your environment. Years ago my particular brand of cleaning was out-of-sight, out-of-mind. I would fly through the house unconsciously stashing away clutter in drawers, closets, and cupboards. As long as the immediate area was free and clear. I could breathe a little easier until I went to find whatever it was I’d absentmindedly put away.
Chances are you have at least one grocery bag full of items in each room of your house that you could be rid of. When was the last time you donated you gently used items to Goodwill? Have you considered selling some of your old books, electronics or CDs on Ebay? Is there a neighbor who could use some of the items that no longer serve you?
Want to get a jump-start on cleaning up your space? Hire a maid service to come and spring clean your home. Dust bunnies and refrigerator creatures be gone! Make a list of all of the areas you wish to be cleaned and make it happen. You can find a number of cleaning services online. Look for Molly Maid or Merry Maids. Better yet, ask a friend if they can recommend someone. What a treat! Once you’ve cleaned up your living space you can begin a meaningful inventory of your belongings.
2. Keep only meaningful items and pitch the rest
Let go of old clothing, dishes, linens and outdated decorations. Clean out folders and shred old documents to create more spaciousness. There is something rewarding about keeping only the items that you love and documents that you need. You can let go of all the rest. Take a minute to request electronic invoices for your credit cards, bank statements, and cell phone bills. Recycle old magazines.
Do you really plan to keep all of your children’s grade school homework forever? If you can’t part with your children’s school work, choose a few items from each grade and store these special treasures in a safe place. How many gifts have you received that you are hanging on to just in case the person who gave you the gift comes for a visit? Will your Aunt Beverly be devastated if you give away the tea set you never use? Do you really need to keep every book you’ve ever read? What can you let go of?
My rule is that if something new comes in something old goes out. I only buy items that I absolutely LOVE. Shopping therapy can clutter an environment quickly. I recently let go of a skirt that I bought years ago ( and never wore) that still had the tags on it!
What would your sanctuary be like if it contained only items that were either highly functional or incredibly beautiful?
3. Add color, texture, and light
Now that you have eliminated most of the non-essential items from your living space, you can begin to personalize your environment. What is your favorite color? Do you have anything in your living space that is this color? When was the last time you painted your living room, kitchen, bedroom? Is it time for a color change?
I love going to the spa. When my husband and I renovated our master bath my goal was to create a spa like feeling. Can you recreate a spa environment in your bathroom? How would it feel to slip into a luxurious cotton robe and warm slippers after a relaxing bath? You can easily create a spa environment with a new shower curtain, absorbent towels, candles and soft music.
What about your bedroom? Is the place you sleep, dream and make love an oasis or an eyesore? What might your sanctuary feel like with high thread count sheets, a new duvet comforter and the absence of a television set?
You can breathe new life into your kitchen by getting rid of cracked dishes and mismatched glasses and coffee cups. I collect Fiesta ware and do not like the coffee cups that come with each place setting. Rather than store them for some unknown reason, I pass them along to a friend who has a yoga studio. Keep a vase on your dining table for fresh flowers, greens, dried grasses or eucalyptus.
Can you see how you can improve the feel of your living space easily and inexpensively?
4. Invite nature in
My home and office contain some kind of natural wonders from the shores and forests of Michigan. I love to collect wild flowers, pussy willows, cattails, beach stones, pine cones, driftwood, and acorns. Each item is a delightful gift from mother nature.
Fresh flowers bring more beauty into any sanctuary. I am graced by a hot pink Gerber daisy on my desk. Beautiful. Invite nature into your home by displaying a rock or shell collection. I live in an area with four seasons and collect items fitting of each seasonal change.
Another fun way to let nature in is to have some fun with your camera. Get outside and capture images of your favorite tree, flower or breathtaking sunset. You can easily enlarge and print your image, pop it in a frame and Voila! You’ve just brought something you love from nature into your personal space.
5. Set the mood
Music and aromatherapy are perfect for staging the desired mood of an environment. Feel like dancing? What kind of Pop or Rock music might you be listening to? Need to chill out and relax? Classical music or a new age playlist might be a good choice.
You can enhance your environment with scented candles, incense, and essential oils. Lavender is perfect for calming effect. Citrus will awaken your senses. I love burning the earthy sweet scent of Shoyeido White Cloud incense when I bathe or meditate. Before bed, I often spritz my young daughter’s room with lavender.
When we experimented making our first batch of soap my husband requested a lemon scent because of the invigorating effect citrus has on his senses. I chose lavender for before bed bubble baths.
Begin creating a nurturing sanctuary by getting clear about how you want to feel in your own space. Once you know what you want it’s time to clean and clear the area. Once your space is clean it’s time get rid of the items that longer serve you. Say goodbye to clutter, one room at a time. Paint the walls, add a new throw rug, pillow or special blanket. Invite nature in with collections from the earth or landscape photography. Create the desired mood with your favorite music and fragrances. Follow these simple steps and enjoy your personal oasis of sacred nurturing space.