3 practical tips to create your sanctuary

I’ve always beat the drum that the home is a sanctuary, a place you can be your true self and whilst this hasn’t changed, what I realised was I was talking about the end product, rather than practical steps on how you can get there. I’m going to right that wrong now!

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by the lovely Bron Watson about home office spaces in 2020. An article I’d written for The Business Owner’s Collective June 2020 edition delved into the overnight demand the home office space had become because of COIV-19 and a number of ways anyone can set up a work space within their home. From this conversation though, a spark was lit and I was able to articulate the ethos behind the way that I design. A break-through one might say!

I’ve always beat the drum that the home is a sanctuary, a place you can be your true self and whilst this hasn’t changed, what I realised was I was talking about the end product, rather than practical steps on how you can get there. Your home should be one of the biggest support systems you can tap into, so here’s my top 3 tips on building that sanctuary and what you can take into consideration during the design process.

Observing yourself
What do I mean by observing yourself? Just take note, each of us has a routine, and there are routines within routines. The idea of observing yourself is to understand when you are performing parts of your routine at your best. And you’ll need to observe yourself when you are performing at your worst. Let me give you an example from my own life. I began the process of learning to meditate about 3 months ago. This has been a hard process for me and one that requires stillness, quietness and a space where I feel safe and comfortable. I’ve tried meditating in my living room, the dining room, the bedroom. OK I’ve pretty much meditated in every room! These experiences showed me though that I was at my best meditating in the living room. So this is the space that I’ve now built in the functionality that comes with meditating. It’s not much, but those items I like to have, like a blanket, small pillow and diffuser are within that space and easily accessible. This process of observation does take time, but by giving yourself that time to understand how, where and why you are your best means you can start building that functionality into each of the spaces so that it acts as a support system for your life. Have you ever noticed that when things are in just the right spot, life is easier? That’s your built environment supporting you so you can be your best.   

Let me give you another, quite possibly, more practical example! You’ve probably heard of the triangle in the kitchen – the connection between sink, fridge and cooktop. This is designed to make your experience of using the kitchen to be its most efficient. When you install an island bench a good distance is 1200mm between the two benches. Why? Because it’s a one step move, it’s comfortable and it’s the most naturally efficient way to move between the two benches. That’s your built environment supporting you so you can be your best in the kitchen.  

 

Cull and Declutter
Two of my all-time favourite topics culling and decluttering. The process of culling and decluttering can seem overwhelming at first, but with practice you’ll become a pro. I’ve written other articles like this one that guides you through the basics of decluttering.

An important point to remember about this process is to take it easy on yourself. It won’t be a quick process and the more stuff you have the longer it can take. Because we are human beings nothing is static, we are constantly moving, we are energy that moves and so the process of culling and decluttering is a consistent function of not only creating a home that supports you, but revisiting this process means you’re home will remain relevant to you and your needs. 

For the purposes of this article though I want you to start to observe the way that you and your family live. Observe how you and your family lives day-to-day, what items you use, what items you no longer use. Do these items still support the way you live? Or, have you moved on from them and they’re no longer needed? Ask yourself, do I still use this item? Does my family still use this item? Do I still need this item to support me in my day-to-day life? If the answer is no then you need to move it on. If the answer is yes then you need to work out how and where you use this item that allows you to be your best. 

When we talk about decluttering, this doesn’t mean that you’re just shoving everything into cupboards or drawers to ‘tidy up’. Culling and decluttering is a process that requires inner strength because, if you’re making a break with an object that has previously supported the way that you lived, this can be quite confronting. I know that sounds dramatic to some of you, but for some people to remove objects from their home that once served a purpose can cause anxiety, or it can bring on feelings of grief. Give yourself permission to grieve because it could represent the end of an era, whether that be good or bad. And that’s OK. Then allow yourself to move into a joy filled state because you’ll pass it on with intention with the understanding that another person, another family, will now get to create a home that works well for them. 

Let me go back to the kitchen example I was talking about earlier and dissect the utensils drawer. Hands up who gets frustrated each time you open that drawer and curse everything in it because you can never seem to find the thing you’re looking for easily? Do you push everything around, making a complete mess of the already completely messy drawer? Ask yourself, do you need those 8 spatulas? Do you really need 3 potato mashers? What about those 5 veggie peelers? Yep, sometimes we upgrade those utensils, but what we forget to do is to move the old one on. If it’s in perfectly good working order then donate it, because someone else out there needs that masher!

 

Customise your support system
So once you have observed yourself, the way you live, the way your family lives and operates in the home you can now start the process of building in the functionality that is going to support you at your best. So what do I mean by functionality? The function of a space may seem obvious and quite simple at first but when you factor in how you and your family live in the space and what your daily routine is, it becomes clear that functionality is determined by lifestyle and habits. You can read more about functionality in this article.

When you build functionality into the home, your home will support you to perform those tasks in the best possible way in the most efficient way. By customising this functionality, the home becomes the support system that gives you the opportunity to be your best. Think about this. If your home is clear of clutter because functionality has been built into it in the way that supports you, it means you’re starting from the best possible point rather than moving backwards to go forwards. When this support system works efficiently, it provides you little pockets of joy, it provides opportunities throughout each space to connect, to reflect, to live your best. This doesn’t mean your home lacks personality, in fact the opposite is true, it reflects your personality because it’s built specifically for you and your family. 

Let me circle back to the kitchen I was talking about earlier. I’m a big fan of drawers in the kitchen rather than shelving. Not only is their storage capacity greater than the shelf, they allow you to see everything from a top down view meaning you’re not shifting other things to find what you’re looking for. Would you prefer to crouch down and shift items out of the way to find what you’re looking for? Or would you prefer to lean over and grab exactly what you need because you can see it? Imagine, every day, you go through this process of crouching down and shifting items, crouching down and shifting items, crouching down and shifting items. What begins as a very minor nuisance, over time, becomes an out of control rage because it’s relentless. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Crouching down and shifting items. Crouching down and shifting items. Crouching down and shifting items. This is not supporting you to be your best. It’s a frustration you can avoid if you build functionality into the space that supports you to be your best. 

 

Imagine yourself now living within that sanctuary, the home that supports you, so you can be and do your best. Do the work, observe yourself, understand how you live, how your family lives, know what you need to build into each space so your home works hard to support you, and the sanctuary you’re so craving will start to reveal itself.

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I'm always looking for new ways to break down the language barriers that exists around the design world. Without the right language, it's really easy to become overwhelmed and shy away from lack of understanding. I want more of us to be able to experience the daily joys design brings to my life. I do this by sharing my own learnings, my knowledge and my experiences so that everyone can have a beautiful home. It's not just about the aesthetic beauty, it's also about the spiritual and emotional beauty that can exist in our homes. 

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