The House that Built Us!

The Houses That Built Us
During these times, so many thoughts about home have crossed my mind, as I’m sure it has for all of you. I am lucky enough to have moved into a new house during the pandemic. It was a welcome change for me because we sold our family estate last year and I had been hunting for exactly the right place until I found it. I call it a 1980’s museum. It needs a total redesign and redecoration. What fun!
 Part of what I love about it is that there is a 100 acre organic farm in front and a 200 acre public reservoir behind, just steps away. The other part that I love is that it is a miniature version of the two houses I grew up in. 
 Until I was about 14 years old, we lived just outside New York City,  in a Dutch colonial home. It definitely informed my sense of design because it was so grounded and steeped in tradition. My mother is very stylish and did a lot of the decoration work, although she also hired an interior designer for the challenging living room that was front to back and had a passage to a sun porch. That was my brother’s room because there were 6 of us children and our grandfather lived with us most of the time.
 I would watch from the stairs quietly when the designer came in to the house, so no one knew I was there as he would discuss ideas with my parents. I was maybe 8 or 9 so I am not entirely sure how much I understood at the time, but I definitely felt the impact of everything he and the design did.  The design complimented and respected the architecture’s traditionalism but also had a great mediterranean flair with carved spanish linoleum tiles. The area was a pass-through, but with two chairs flanking the fireplace, it was also a truly cozy place to sit. It also served as our staging area for the Christmas tree, which was always large and wide, and touched the ceiling, making a grand feeling every year with 6 children’s toys under it at Christmas time. So much about the stability of that house and living in that space stayed with me for many years, even after moving out of New York City, to Western Massachusetts.
 We moved to a 144 acre plot of land where my parents, with the help of an architect, built an amazing house. It was unique and contemporary, and way ahead of its time. We all had our own rooms that we got to design ourselves, which I think is an important element in any child’s life. Of course, we were guided, but we had a lot of creativity and fun in deciding the image that we wanted. My room had black and white psychedelic wallpaper with a hanging desk made of the spanish linoleum tiles left over from the house in New York. There was also a huge paragon shaped window, directly to the right of the desk, which I would often look out and dream of far away places.  Both of those houses built me and go a long way in explaining my design sensitivities and affinity for both super traditional/transitional styles as well as eclectic and contemporary styles. Both made me feel at home, which meant feeling comforted and creative.  Moving into my new home, it is time to incorporate the two houses that built me and really go all out in expressing my soul’s contentment. It is certainly a wonderful bare palette at the moment and I will be sure to keep you updated along the journey!  I hope your homes are serving you during this time and for a long time to come. Never underestimate the power of a beautifully built environment. Until soon I hope!

Love and light,

“Of the five senses, smell is the one with the best memory”
– Rebecca Mcclanahan

We design to create beautiful environments for our clients, and so much of the final product and feeling associated with it can be attributed to the sensory experience of a space. Part of our process if to engage and soothe the senses in the home, otherwise known as sensory design. Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing how we design for each of the five senses and how we incorporate them into interiors, starting with smell.
 Scents can be alluring or unpleasant, mysterious, familiar, over-powering, or welcoming. We have strong reactions to and relationships with different aromas that are physical and often deeply personal, and how humans relate to fragrance has a long history. Ancient cultures would use essential oils and burn incense, for cultural and ritualistic purposes. Eventually, fragrances became more commercialized and now scents can be found in almost all environments and products we use. Aromas have become a strong sales and branding tool, whether it’s the captivating fragrance at a boutique hotel or our loyalty to the fresh smell and cleaning power of Pine-sol. We all have our preferences and it’s quite common for us to keep our favorite scents around our living spaces in the forms of candles, sprays, and diffusers. Automated scent and essential oil diffusers are now becoming quite popular in people’s homes: lavender for sleep, ylang ylang for stress relief, and peppermint for energy, to name a few. These applications fall under what is commonly known as aromatherapy, which offers healing and holistic benefits, but have you heard of aromachology?
 Aromachology is the study of how scent can impact us on an emotional level. Scent can trigger powerful memories and can influence mood, emotions and behavior. Studies show that parts of the brain which govern alertness and concentration can be influenced positively or negatively by scent and aromachologists blend essential oils to create “behavioral fragrances” to establish positive effects of aromas on our behaviors and emotions. Knowledge surrounding scent is still in its infancy and the future applications of these studies are quite exciting!

With this knowledge, our goal is to take your home décor beyond the traditional and add a multi-sensory experience. Stay tuned for the upcoming sensory experiences in our next monthly newsletter!

Travel to New and Creative Environments Online 

One way we have been getting to flex our design muscles while staying home during these wild times is by going back to our past and playing games! Specifically, one game has engrossed us, The Sims Freeplay compatible on almost all mobile devices and tablets from EA games. If you don’t know the franchise The Sims games focus on simulating life, allowing you to take control over a vast number of characters, play out daily life, drama and challenges, and work towards big goals and aspirations. One huge aspect of the game, a component that has played to the series success, is the game allows players to create custom homes and rooms, with tons of furniture and decor options! 
 As you can see from the promotional video it’s not all building and design, the game challenges players to explore the virtual town they’ve been put in charge of, build up community lots like Fire Stations, Parks, and Museums, and create a dynamic neighborhood filled with different characters and homes! Hard work put into helping sims achieve their goals is rewarded with expanded decor and home furnishing options and more resources to build bigger homes with! It’s been a really great way to get our minds to shift gears, giving us a fun platform to play with design and express our unique creative vision for each sim we create.

We’d love to see how you are using games to keep yourself active and engaged with design, send us your favorite “Sims” creation so we can feature it in our next newsletter! If you aren’t sure where to get the game follow this link where you’ll find more info as well as links to find it on the App Store, Google Play, and even Amazon Apps. So stay safe, stay home, and stay creative!
Check out the Sims Freeplay promotional video to get a feeling for how the game looks and the general idea.

~ by joanneriley on December 18, 2020.

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