Photo by Leora Dowling on Unsplash

By Tiffany Edison

Have you ever taken refuge in your home—holed up for a day, or maybe even (*gasp*) a week? When I listen to the lyrics of Adele’s award-winning song “Rolling in the Deep,” it is easy for me to conjure up images of a tiny boat tossed about against a raging ocean (from the song: “The scars of your love they leave me breathless, I can’t help feeling, we could have had it all”). In times of struggle, our home is often the singular place where we’re able to calm our frayed nerves and soothe our aching hearts. It is sacred ground. Having a sanctuary is more important now than ever, as we live in a time where we are bombarded around the clock.

We are living in a time where our smartphones are doing us more of a disservice than giving us a leg up. Our electronic devices have had a dramatic effect on interpersonal skills (or lack thereof), and our anxiety levels have skyrocketed. Our minds are incessantly ticking through the questions: What event am I missing out on? Who is getting more “likes” than me? How are my stocks looking today? And why is my boss not returning that text I sent at 5 am?? It is no surprise then that we crave a safe space. One that is free of judgement and the keen feeling of needing to “keep up.” The answer to combating this chasm that exists between reality and social media fiction could simply be the conservation of our homes.

We are in fact very able to create an environment that can restore our souls, surrounded by our very personal creature comforts. Children, pets, the prized rose garden curated in the front yard—all of these provide the opportunities needed to reconnect with ourselves and prioritize our values on a daily basis. It’s not time to check your phone; it’s time to tune into your life.

I employ a simple design element in many homes that I’m hired to reimagine, as well as my own. It’s decorative yet utilitarian, and can be inexpensive as well. It’s a console table in the entryway or foyer. But here’s the necessity: a “catch-all” tray or pretty dish placed on this table and outlets nearby. Some people may think of it as a “drop station.” In go the keys, loose change, receipts, and yes, the cell phone. This single act signals the brain that it is indeed time to transition into home-mode and settle in for the evening.  As someone who prides herself on trying to create a good flow throughout the homes I design with my client’s needs in mind, I recognize that electronics and charging areas are a necessity worthy of being worked into the home design. They’re part of our lives, and strategically placed furnishings allow these elements to happily coexist.

It is an interesting phenomenon, I might add, that increasingly my clients are expressing frustration with their “open” floor plans, something so desperately desired in recent years. I hear complaints regarding the lack of “away” space, feeling like there is no place for them in their current home layouts to enjoy a bit of privacy or down time. It turns out that opening the kitchen and great room has done a wonderful job of bringing families together, but that has now left many adults and children alike needing a break from each other, the television, and too many “cooks in the kitchen,” so to speak. One thing I can say for sure after practicing interior design for well over a decade: what comes around goes around!

That being said, I recommend to those feeling this pain who are not looking to relocate, but rather stay in their existing homes, to take stock of what their priorities actually are. What would you do in this “private” space? Is there any opportunity to reconfigure existing space or have a “flex” room or studio area for multiple family members’ separate interests?

If you are one of the lucky ones and have the space available in your home to design around a specific hobby or passion, then you most certainly should take advantage of this often-overlooked opportunity. Case in point, my sister recently shared that she was just invited to a party at her next-door neighbor’s house, where he invited attendees to bring their favorite vinyl. As an avid record collector, this gave him the opportunity to play deejay for the night and share his prized record collection. Genius! The guests were wildly entertained, and the sense of community amongst neighbors was strengthened by this themed gathering. This gave me pause, as I thought about this man designating a space in his home for something he’s passionate about and enjoys immensely. How cool is that? Many of us can and possibly should find space to this end; an unused nook or under-utilized room in our home could easily be converted into a tribute or hobby space. Whether your passion is collecting wine, painting watercolors, or showcasing autographed sports memorabilia, this space can most assuredly bring exceeding joy.

The home we create allows us to practice the work-life balance we all crave. This is powerful stuff, and sometimes very simple changes such as installing dimmer switches on light fixtures, starting a fire in the hearth, or simply enjoying a relaxing soak in the tub, get overlooked in the chaos of day-to-day living. These might very well be the activities that can facilitate our emotional well-being—and all with minimal effort.

Don’t “save” these for special occasions. This is life. Our homes play a hugely significant role in how we role-model balance to other members in our families. We don’t need to be kinetic at every turn. We can stop and smell the roses, and plant them too. We can stop and smell the coffee, brewed in our own kitchen. We can sit on our own sofa and curl up with a book and a fire because we’ve created a space in which we want to stay, and be, and live.

Unplug, paint your bedroom, organize your bookshelves, go through old photos with your loved ones and frame those that are special to you. Refrain from posting it on social media and truly live it! Indulge in creating your home with comfort in mind, and I promise you—you cannot lose. Life can throw us all for a loop, but we need not be cast out to sea. We can take the helm and make our own little piece of paradise.

BIO: 

Tiffany Edison has been an interior designer since 2002 and specializes in both
residential and commercial projects.  She holds a Master of Social Work degree
(ACSW) and utilizes interpersonal relationship skills on a daily basis with her client
base, largely comprised of Ann Arbor, and Metro Detroit residents.  She has a
wonderfully large blended family residing in the city and enjoys the comforts of home.
When she’s not fully immersed in client projects, you can find her active on the golf
course, a favorite pastime.

www.birchdesignassociates.com