In this age of McMansions, great rooms, and big screen TVs, our homes are dressed to impressnot to help us unwind. Creating a live-in sanctuary requires that you shift this visual approach to one that balances your senses.
Cut the kitchen chaos: The kitchen is a common spot for sensory overload. It's a room full of scents, sounds, and, often, bright colors. "Walk in and ask yourself how each of your senses is engaged. If all five senses are in overdrive, look for ways to shift the balance. Repaint it a more soothing color, add some cushier textures with a throw rug and cushions, or turn on some soft music instead of a kitchen television," Wilson says.
"It can also be a matter of making sure that the space is designed for the activities that actually happen there," says Sylvia Sepielli, the award-winning consultant behind the Mii amo spa in Sedona, Arizona; Spa Ojai in Ojai, California; and Spa Grande at Wailea Resort in Maui, Hawaii. If the kids are doing their homework on the same counter where you're cooking the dinner and checking your laptop, it might be time to assign separate kitchen spaces for some of these tasks.
Use space wisely: Something you never see in a spa (where every square foot is meticulously conceived and executed) but often see in homes is a misused or underutilized room. "The classic example is the unused home gym," Sepielli says. "People buy exercise equipment and don't want to look at it, so they stick it in an out-of-the-way room they never want to go into."
Other common examples are too-formal dining or living rooms that sit gathering dust while waiting for the china-and-crystal dinner party that almost never happens. "Your home should facilitate how you really live; otherwise, it's an obstacle to your lifestyle, which is a huge stressor in itself," Sepielli says. "So if you really want to exercise while chatting with your husband who wants to sit at the computer or read, you should have a room that caters to those needs." And she speaks from experience.
Sepielli and her husband turned one room in their home into the "Renaissance room," a combination gym-library-office where the family gathers to do all of their favorite things while spending time together. "It completely works for us," she says.
Ask yourself if every room in your home is catering to a real need. If it's not, repurpose it. Why can't you have a conservatory, an art gallery, a library, or a yoga studio? Imagine the space you'd love to have, and claim it.