Sometimes a book enters your life at just the right moment.
I recently moved into the second floor of a beautiful Victorian home and I was surprised to find that I had more space to work with than ever before—and every room had crown molding! I started brainstorming the most efficient ways that I could fill our space with functional pieces while still maintaining a sense of aesthetic balance. The Mindful Home: The Secrets to Making Your Home a Place of Harmony, Beauty, Wisdom and True Happiness by Dr. Craig and Deirdre Hassed (Exisle Publishing; November 1, 2015) is my go-to guide for learning the importance of objects being beautiful while also being useful. The book opens with a golden rule by William Morris, a textile designer, poet and novelist from the 19th century strongly associated with the British arts and crafts movement. Morris said: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
One specific way that I’ve used the teachings of The Mindful Home in my own abode is useful and beautiful shoe storage. In my dining room there is an empty spot right next to the front doorway where, out of habit after a long day, we started to put our shoes. We laid a rug out on the hardwood floor and our shoes began to pile up. This was certainly not the best use of the space so I decided to buy a lovely piece of dark wood furniture disguised as a shoe rack. It fits perfectly in the corner and appears to be a chest of drawers, but when you open the drawers it is actually a bin for shoe storage. Not only does this effectively hide away our shoe clutter, but it is a beautiful piece of furniture that we have adorned with a lamp (according to the authors, this is the master of mood) and some other neat findings, like a vaporisateur from Venice, Italy.
The Mindful Home has also helped me to be mindful of when to stop filling a space, (I’ve definitely been guilty of over-decorating!) Morris’ golden rule can most definitely be applied here —take a step back and start evaluating the things in your home. If there are objects that are neither beautiful nor useful then you need to reassess why they are still there and why they no longer add to the value of your life or the ambiance of your home. Craig and Deirdre Hassed suggest that you reflect on this and what it would mean to pass the object on to someone else who might find a use for it or find it beautiful.
The Hasseds also break down your home into five distinct spaces: the leisure space, the social space, the quiet space, the storage space and the outdoor space. I have to say, so far I’ve pegged my leisure space, and my social space, but I’m still working on the more soulful parts of my home: my outdoor refuge and my quiet space. If you’re moving into a new place, or reinventing the rooms in your home, take some time to experiment and approach each room with the wisdom that being at home is truly a metaphor for finding ourselves and the core of our being.