The Survivor's Nest series is very special to me, as an interior decorator and a cancer survivor. As an interior decorator, I've always approached my work with the belief that a house isn't a home until it provides a soft place to land at the end of a stressful day. Living with cancer only intensified this element of my work, which I love sharing with other survivors. I hope this post, originally posted last year, and my five tips for bringing cheer and healing into your nest inspire you to create your safe place to land.
"A house is much more than a mere shelter, it should lift us emotionally and spiritually." John Saladino
As a place to reconnect, re-energize and reflect, our homes support our healing from all of life's stresses and maladies. A house is truly a home when it lifts us up, especially when we are struggling. Here are five simple tricks you can do right now to bring cheer and healing into your home:
1. Let in the Light: Natural light is a stimulant. In fact, the lack of natural light affects some people so much that they suffer from depression during the colder winter months. Look at your windows and ask yourself if they are letting in enough light. Are your drapes heavy and covering the window? A decorator's trick is to move your curtain rod out beyond the frame of the window so the drape covers mostly wall and just the vertical edges of the window. This trick makes your window appear larger and you'll see a huge difference in the amount of window you've opened up. If you have a view which doesn't make you happy, put up sheers. They will let light in and soften the view.
2. Wake up with Color: Color is directly tied to mood. We all know that there are colors that engender happiness, such as yellow and red. No need, however, to paint the entire room bright yellow! Use accessories to bring in pops of color. Scatter throw pillows, vases, flowers, throws and the like around the room. This trick brings in just the right amount of color and can be accomplished in an afternoon after a trip to the local home store. And the best part? When you tire of a color, simply change it out. You can't do that with a paint can!
3. Surround Yourself with Things You Love:: A long time ago, I went to a new client's house. Although the house was beautifully decorated, I noticed there wasn't one personal item to be seen except for a few family photos on one wall. It turned out that the house, formerly the neighborhood's show house, had been bought complete with all its furnishings. This created an interesting problem for my client, who was afraid to move a stick of furniture out of place.
As much as my client loved her new house, it wasn't yet a home because it didn't reflect the family who lived within its walls. Without personal items, such as books, souvenirs, family pictures, children's art - the list is limitless - the house had no soul and was still just a show house. Take the time to identify items you love, which speak to you of experiences, relationships or beauty, and display them proudly. If you love them, you will love seeing them in your home.
4. Revel in Personal Collections: An easy and cost-free decorator trick is to group collections. Often, clients tell me they don't collect anything. At the same time, I see interesting items scattered around the house which, when brought together, become a collection. Look around your house right now for multiples. Decorators say that three or more of anything is a collection. Don't be limited by labels. Items of the same shape or color can also form a collection. I bet you have an interesting collection right now, just waiting to be discovered and celebrated.
5. Bring in Natural Accents: There's something about flowers, pinecones, acorns, branches and leaves that bring life to the indoors. Using natural elements in the home creates a connection between the indoors and outdoors, which lifts our spirits. Keep it simple and stay away from plastic, which is one of my decorating pet peeves. Whatever you can find in fake flowers will never approach the beauty of just a few cut branches from your backyard. A beautiful vase of real flowers is a focal point that helps rest your mind and calm you.
Wherever you are on your cancer journey, you deserve every bit of support you can find. Our home environments are a huge part of that support system. Do what you can, even if it's just something small, to bring cheer to your home and it will reward you. It was an ancient Greek poet, Pindar, who said, "The best of healers is good cheer." I'd love to know what little thing you did today to bring cheer and healing into your home.
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