An expert tells you how to turn your space into a sanctuary to escape the turmoil of modern lifestyles
Picture an escape. The first image that came to mind is probably a sandy beach or an exotic location. It is unlikely it was your master bathroom or bedroom.
That is slowly changing, says interior designer and author Nate Berkus. “With everything going on in the world, I think all of us want and have always wanted, our home to be our sanctuary,” says Berkus, co-star of the reality TV show Nate & Jeremiah by Design.
Berkus has made a career of transforming living spaces into private oases. But as millennials join the ranks of home buyers, with their obsessive interest in self-care, mindfulness and the internet, the idea of design as escapism is expanding.
People are relying more on their home environments to boost their moods and overall sense of well-being. And in today’s heated climate, optimising your home for happiness and creating a safe space to decompress and disconnect from work, politics and technology are not only valued but seemingly necessary.
“The best interiors are those where people shut out all the noise and make a careful assessment of what made them feel the best in their spaces,” Berkus says.
“The first question everyone should ask themselves before launching any design project is: ‘What makes you feel good in your home?’
“With minimalism in vogue and decluttering advocates such as Marie Kondo reaching Beyoncé-esque levels of recognition, the areas of home and wellness are becoming more integrally intertwined. People are shying away from clutter and excess by placing more weight on the long-term benefits of the objects they choose to keep and display in their homes.
“As a culture, I think we have too many things. There is a fine line between hoarding and collecting,” Berkus says.
“It’s important not to have too many things because you stop noticing and caring about the details. That’s when you cross the line from collector into something more dangerous.”
One way Berkus avoids this pitfall is by selecting furnishings that have “age and patina” and “evoke a sense of history, permanence and use”.
Displaying treasured travel souvenirs or incorporating beloved vintage and antique furniture might fit the bill. Many of his clients are also devoting spaces in their homes to “wellness, tranquillity and serenity”.
His celebrity patrons, including his friend Oprah Winfrey, often request spaces for silence and reflection such as craft corners, reading nooks, and yoga, prayer and meditation rooms.
Your best shot at creating a home that feels “safe and warm,” Berkus says, is to do homework and figure out what design style best suits you.
“We all do better when our homes are better. Our homes rise up to greet us, and they make a difference in how we move through the world. “At the end of the day, when we come home, light that candle and close the door, we want to know we are surrounded by things we chose and that we really love.”
Create inside peace
When you’re embarking on a renovation or redesign, ask yourself: ‘What choices can I make to promote a feeling of sanctity? What natural elements, time-worn finishes and architectural elements salvaged from old buildings can I incorporate to add layers of depth and character?
Bathroom as sanctity
Master bathrooms have also become a commonplace of respite, with trends toward personalisation and spa-inspired amenities. “Bathrooms have become even more sumptuous,” Berkus says.
For homeowners on a budget, an easy way to create bathroom serenity is with candles, fresh flowers, relaxing music and recessed lighting. Berkus also notes a growing trend toward upholstered bathroom furniture such as quilted chaises and tufted settees next to the bathtub, to add another tier of warmth and relaxation.
Use social networks
Visual social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest can help homeowners curate their interests, hone their design aesthetic and create a home environment that reflects their personality and tastes. “Our design consciousness has been elevated based on our access to information,” Berkus says.
Websites have also served as visual tools to help clients communicate to interior designers what they want their decor to exude, “whether it’s something that reflects who they are as a person, their cultural heritage or time in their lives that was meaningful.”