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As humans, we’re dependent on our homes for many things—shelter, a sense of belonging, financial security, and a place that reflects our personality. However, after the dismay brought by 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic, we are now dependent on our homes for much more. Even as states begin to open to full capacity as the COVID-19 vaccine spreads nationwide, many things were changed that will remain changed for years to come, if not forever. One thing changed for certain—our homes became more than a space; they became a sanctuary.  

A Home is a Safe Haven

Throughout the pandemic, homes were turned into makeshift gyms, offices, schools, and even bars. As a result, it has become more important than ever before for our homes to provide a safe, warm, comfortable, and relaxing vibe to calm the anxiety and uncertainty of the outside world. Protecting not only one’s physical well-being but mental and emotional health is critical. Luckily, intentional, tranquil design can make all the difference.  

Although everyone has a different and unique taste when it comes to interior design, certain elements remain constant throughout all soothing spaces that promote healing and a sense of calm. Design elements that soothe your soul while awakening your senses are at the heart of tranquil design. The amalgamation of materials used in a design can be used to create rooms that ‘feel good,’ evoking positive emotions. Each room serves a purpose or even a variety of functions. This, however, does not preclude a space from being soothing or evocative. When combining utility and tranquility, the choice of materials to set the foundational tone for the space is key. Interior designers must find wonder in viewing a room’s potential through the combined lens of form and function.

Imagine yourself in the ‘before bedroom’ and see if you can drop into a feeling or emotion. Do the same exercise with the ‘after bedroom.’ Can you see where we’re going with this…?

Bedroom before

Bedroom after

Now, view your own space through this same lens. As you perform this exercise on the spaces around you, here are some helpful concepts to help guide you to building more tranquil spaces. 

Be Intentional With Materials

Choosing from natural materials, such as wood or stone, creates an organic sensibility right from the start. Although, one cannot make the mistake of stopping there! Adding subtle layers of natural textiles and intentional texture goes a long way to create the perfect composition. Whether remodeling a room entirely or looking to add to what already exists, think about the room within the context of the rest of your house. Is the overall feel modern or traditional? What materials were used in the building of your house? How can you use these foundational elements to further the story of your home? A strong foundation can be a calming influence. 

Once you have chosen materials, turn your attention to the color palette. Are there already colors and textures in your choice of material that encourage a specific palette, or should the use of the space dictate how it is painted? If you’re having trouble deciding, basic color theory is always an anchor and a friend. If the goal is serene, tranquil design—neutral, monochromatic colors are easy on the eyes, and in turn, the soul. 

Light Is A Material

Light is essential to any interior space as it is the means by which we experience and see our surrounding environment. The feeling of a space can be completely transformed by altering the placement, color of light, and intensity, which makes it a very powerful tool. 

Pay attention to how the lighting in a room supports the use of the room. In the Southwest, light is one of the most abundant and reliable materials you can use to build tranquil utility into your space. Take the example of our Primary Bedroom pictured above, as the bedroom is one of the clearest examples of a space serving multiple purposes and accommodating a variety of moods and personal states of mind.

A very specific relationship has been set here between natural sunlight and soothing room light. While the potential for natural light has been expanded from the original layout by simplifying the wall to the right, curtains and shades have been added to allow for total control of the natural light in the space. Additionally, interior electric lighting elements cast a soft, indirect light as if they have come to an understanding with the sun: that its job is to illuminate and excite, while their job is to soften and soothe. Neither is at odds with the other, and the feel of the rest of the room follows suit. 

Simplicity Is Different Than Emptiness 

Beyond the materials, colors, and textures used to design a space, the creation of visual harmony is of first importance when determining how that space is filled and used. The first step in filling a space is to consider the space available to you. As sprawling, open spaces continue to be a major trend in modern design, interior design is ever forced to walk the line between simple and empty. In the quest for tranquility and balance, landing on the right side of that line makes all the difference. 

While well-planned simplicity soothes the mind and allows a space to breathe freely, emptiness encourages stress and confusion. Aside from the emotional repercussions of a feeling like emptiness, there are physical repercussions of design that mistakes emptiness for simplicity. A good starting point for creating a space that champions simplicity without feeling empty is to ask yourself whether the space performs its purpose without extra clutter, or without the need to add to it. If your goal was to make a space simple, yet complexity has been added because you must move through unplanned emptiness for the room to function properly, then the simplicity of open space has been undermined by its lessened utility. 

Bring Nature In 

It is proven that the addition of plants to indoor spaces has therapeutic effects, reducing stress levels, oxygenating the room, and promoting healing. When used properly, plants can help center your soul and connect the space. Look for plants that are easy to care for and do not require direct light to thrive. Unless you truly have a green thumb and find revitalization and energy in caring for plants, finicky or needy plants can take away from the tranquility of a room. Ultimately, even if you’re not the best at caring for plants and would rather not carry the burden of care, consider fake plants to get (close to) the same effect. However you choose to accomplish it, bringing nature into your space invites calm, composure, and existential well-being. 

Create a Sensory Space

Each detail when designing a home, no matter how small, should be chosen to ensure we are feeding all our senses—sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound. Decorating with unique objects and antiques that you want to reach out and touch brings a sense of safety and calmness to the room. Are there objects, shapes, or textures that bring to mind special memories or uniquely centering thoughts? 

Tranquil design is about more than just paint and décor. It is a transformative experience that yields spaces designed for rest and relaxation. Luxurious fabrics and textiles paired with deliciously comfortable furniture and personal touches are sure to encourage positive energy. Good design speaks to a sense of feelosophy™; the thoughtful curation of all materials to evoke nature’s love, which translates to an intrinsic feeling of well-being and comfort. Whatever design elements give you peace, focus on them—starting each morning with joy and ending each day with grace.