SELF-PRACTICES FOR THE HOME
— By Lauren Trend
“We spend 87 per cent of our lives inside buildings, how they are designed really affects how we feel, how we behave. Design is not just a visual thing, it’s a thought process, a skill. Ultimately design is a skill to enhance our humanity. It’s a frame for life.” — Ilse Crawford
Three of the very first articles I published on Self Practice pertained to Interior Design and ultimately, how our surrounds can influence our many selves: creative, physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual.
When I walked away from the fashion industry I (incredibly fortuitously) stumbled into a career within the industry of architecture and interior design. Now, looking back, it was an inevitable part of my souls trajectory; because it is within this field that it (my soul) learnt to articulate itself without words, but with feeling. Without noise, but energetically.
Understanding how we are and feel in our environments has made up such a large part of my research over the last seven years. This area of enquiry has lead me to the minds and practices of Ilse Crawford, Alain De Botton & Rem Koolhaus; all who you have seen and heard me reference numerous times on this platform. Their writings and principles have afforded me permission to pay a pain-staking level of attention to creating the best home I can, for myself.
I have a great sense of pride when it comes to my home. Perhaps because it hasn’t always been or felt this way. Growing up, I was a child of divorced parents, and because I was always moving between their homes, since I can remember, I longed for the day I would grow up and have my own home. No shared time. No packed bags. Just a place of my own, that I could quietly sit and stay.
When I was old enough to, literally down to the day, I moved out of home and signed my first lease. As young adult, I experienced all sorts of share housing nightmares. I’ve experienced living situations that were not at all conducive to my personal / professional / creative health. But now, I can say without hesitation, that my home as it stands to be today, is what’s most influential to all aspects of my wellbeing.
I have worked so hard to be able to afford a home that is a return on investment as far as my health is concerned. Last year, when I made the decision that I wanted and needed to live on my own (without housemates) I spent almost half of my salary wage on rent. HALF! Others through it was crazy, but I saw it as an non-negotiable investment in my mental health. I have and will always believe, that we spend out time, energy, and money on that which we value.
Taking care of my home, to me, is just as important as taking care of myself. I don’t doubt this is because I view it as two-in-the same. How my surroundings are and feel, directly influences how I am, and feel.
I’d like us to remember that creating a home can look and feel like many different things. Home can be the walls we walk into for respite at the end of a long day. Home can be found in people, in memories, in quiet moments. Wherever and however you find your sense of home; below are a few self-practices that pertain to the essence of creating and maintaining H-O-M-E.
Clean often and well.
It’s such a simple step that makes the most profound difference. I do genuinely struggle with OCD and my poor partner is putting up with me always wiping down surfaces. But even if you attempt a thorough clean once a week, your mental and physical health will benefit so much. On an energetic level - it makes so much sense, too. Dust is stagnance. Circulate the energy in your space by cleaning often and well.
Epsom Salts in a small dish.
If you have trouble sleeping, this simple practice has helped me so much! Place a few table spoons of epsom salts in a small shallow dish in the corner of your room. It cleanses the energy of the space, removes negative chi and and warns off spirits which you’ll also find handy If you’re prone to attachments like me.
Washing your bedding.
Why is it that doing menial tasks like picking up our dry cleaning, and washing our bedding, makes us feel like we have our lives together? Perhaps - that’s, because it means that we do, and that’s incentive enough! Make washing your sheets an occasion to look forward to, not dread. Can you elevate the experience by adding a few drops of essential oil to your wash, giving your linen it’s own calming, grounding scent, or use a laundry soap that feels like a real investment in the health of your home? I love this Sphaera one. You might too.. ?
Appreciating any natural light.
Wherever you live, whether it be in your own home, in a share house, in a large space or a small apartment - can you acknowledge and appreciate any slices of natural light that fall within your space at a time of day? It may be on a window sill, on the floor boards, the way it hits the wall at 4 pm - wherever and however, let it embed a sense of stillness and calm in you. And remind you that within the walls you reside in, there’s always space to sit and notice life’s simple pleasures.
Re-arrange your furniture.
My favourite. So much so that I do it every few weeks. Seriously! Shifting around the furniture in our house is my favourite way to remove stagnance and welcome a new season. A fresh start. Play around with where things sit and how they look until you find the way that serves you best. Clues that you may have landed on the best layout for your home / room: you feel calm, you want to spend more time there, you take extra care to keep it clean and tidy, you embody a sense of pride and personal connection to your space.
Seasonal clean outs.
Another obvious one, but one that’s not to be overlooked. At the beginning of each season, take stock of your belongings and sort through that which you no longer need. As a Sagittarius sun, I’m forever giving away my things to friends, or selling items I no longer need or have use for. Think twice before donating clothing to your local op-shop, however, as most are dealing with the Marie-Kondo affect: over supply and tonnes of clothing ending up in landfill, as they don’t have room to store everything that no longer ‘sparks-everyones-joy’. Perhaps text your friends and ask them if they want to come over and raid your 'pile of stuff’ or organise a clothes swap group with people in your area.
Upgrading kitchen utensils.
It doesn’t have to be all at once, in fact, it’s better if it’s not. Upgrading the items in your kitchen is one of my favourite home practices at present. In stead of buying an entire dinner plate set at once, in our home, we buy two or three new special porcelain bowls/plates from Mud at a time. We treasure them so much, because of this. And we can add the items that we learn that we truly need. Whether it’s a bread knife, a pan, a kettle or a tea spoon. Set aside a few dollars a week for a few weeks, and when ready - upgrade a kitchen utensil that you’ll use and treasure often. Let it elevate the everyday practice - and allow your appreciation for it bleed into the daily experience and beyond.
Create a ritual corner.
Select a space in your home, or room, that can serve as a place that is potent for your self-practices. Maybe its where you burn a candle, or light incense. Maybe you have a collection of special trinkets that congregate there too. My ritual corner is pictured above, and is one of my favourite parts of our home. By careful consideration, and to embody and remind me of the total experience this life offers, it houses all elements of the earth and self: air, fire, wind, water, earth. This week consider what you would like to put in your ritual corner. Let it act as a shrine of sorts, a place of offering: to source, and most importantly, yourself.
Get lost in research.
Whether it be collecting visuals of your dream home you’ll one day manifest, or continuing to learn how to better your space and yourself; allow yourself to get lost in the research of it. Look to the likes of Alain de Botton and Ilse Crawford. Read The Architecture of Happiness and A Frame for Life. Get to know my dear friend Paige’s practice, Object & Us, which is a concentrated exploration on our personal interactions with interiors and beyond. Have you ever stopped to consider how innate the human desire is to improve our surroundings? You just have to go to IKEA on the weekend, or take stock of the hundreds of TV shows centred on home improvement / personified victory. All this to say, you wont be short of inspiration...