There are so many areas in my life whether I could use more elegance and one of the fundamental places to start is the home, besides working on fundamental self and beliefs.
The home is your dwelling place. It is your physical protection from the world. There is no other feeling that coming back home after a stressful day. The home also acts like an anchor and refuge. It is where you feel safe. You probably live with the people you feel closest to, and houses all your possessions.
The past few years of my family and personal life have been rather turbulent and busy. I was teaching, involved in several projects and also running the family business.
Without being completely aware, I found myself in a very busy place. I felt like I have neglected my home, the elegant living dwelling space that I had once so lovingly curated. While it is not in a complete disarray, I had let clutter accumulate in certain areas of the house, such as my bedroom, my office/workroom and the kitchen. Disorganization has taken over.
Though on the outside, I still see my beautiful home.I felt as though I was hiding a secret. It also felt like a ticking bomb that might soon explode (into chaos literally). Deep down, I knew it is not the way I wanted to live and I wasn’t comfortable with the stress it is subtly causing. I dislike subjecting my family living like this EVEN MORE.
I attempted to rectify this, albeit weakly as I couldn’t afford the time and mental space. If I tried to organize a shelf, a pile of mess would lay for several weeks before I had the capacity to deal with it again. I turned to books to help me and over the years, I’ve read
While these books are great at helping me create some sort of structure and system, I felt I needed a greater set of ‘elegant principles’ to solidify my resolve.
I thought I’ll share them with you.
ELEGANT PRINCIPLES OF AN ELEGANT HOME
- The home should be given a high importance, thus high priority in your life
It is place when I can call my own, my comfort and refuge, where I can be myself the most. It should be somewhere that brings me peace and rest, good sleep, health… a place where I can recharge, love and be happy. I should make more of an effort to ensure my home blesses us.
- Make the home of quality, comfort and beauty within your income
Because beauty & elegance is something that I enjoy, this should translate into the way my home is as well. When I go to a place that has beautiful and elegant furnishings or decor, I naturally want to take a picture of it. I probably stare at its surroundings a little longer, relishing it in. The home should be no different. I should make an effort to create a home of beauty that will ignite my sense of pride in the home. As the principles of elegance goes, quality is of high priority, choosing furnishings & objects of the home of with a mindset of using it and keeping it for a long time. Also you and your family/children will learn and be accustomed to high quality and good taste.
- Spacious & near nature
If you live in a big city like me, this can be a challenge. If you could choose, prioritise a bit more space than less, as much as you can afford and hopefully near nature or a park. I think we are actually wired to be in touch with nature and experience less stress and more peace when we do so. If this is not part of your circumstance, have some pictures of nature in your home and have some plants. Also, make an effort to go outdoors to a park every now and then.
For some, creating an elegant home is exciting because it is about decorating elegantly. While I’ll love that too, but I won’t be going into that because this article is about creating a home, and decorating is only a small aspect. I wrote a little about elegant decorating some years back and you may read it there.
For the next section, I will writing a little bit of creating the home in view of family members, whether you live with immediate or extended family or adopted family members (friends, housemates, roommates). A home largely consists of people living in it so that is why I decided to include this section.
- Ensure that you and each of your family member have a place of their own
Whether you share a room with your sister, husband, aging mother etc (I know everyone’s circumstance is different), everyone needs a place they can call their own. If you’re fortunate, it can be your own room, or a small corner of the house. For children, they can have part of a shelf, or a treasure chest. In this area, you should be allowed to decorate as however you see fit, a place to express & indulge yourself, to have privacy and away from judgement and opinions of others. This privacy should be respected and not invaded. Hopefully this area, is a place where you can be alone and away from the family. We all need some timeout and somewhere to go and be alone sometimes.
- Make it a priority to live in a house that is clean and organized.
I’ll be first to admit that I’m not a natural at this, but most important thing is not perfection but to try and not give up (or give in). I won’t be going into detail about how to do this, but there is a lot of help out there, such as the recent Marie Kondo method that went viral on social media. Flylady is someone I go to from time to time, because she has such a loving and encouraging voice to teach us how to let go of clutter. I’m not sure how they feel about elegance, but their methods are functional.
As for me, just to share on my personal experience, I have some habits that create both convenience and inconvenience. I tend to stock up on my favourite products. I prefer that because I don’t enjoy going out to the shops just to replace one thing, such as my mascara. However, I have to learn to store them properly and also not to buy too much.
I also recognize I go through seasons. I can’t be that person that survives on relatively the same stuff for years and years. I applaud and admire those who can. I have my classic items of course, but I need inspiration and change every now and then, in terms of what I use or eat. So if they are non perishables, I put them away so that I only deal with current favorites & season. After a few seasons, when I open my storage to review the items, some will go into the charity bin.
Whether an item sparks joy (as recommended by Marie Kondo), many of the items in my household are functional. They serve a purpose and fits into my color scheme or elegant theme of the house. Will my uncle’s Christmas gift of a Mickey Mouse mug fit into my home, probably not, even though it sparks joy. I’ll just donate it to the office pantry. Will a white tissue-box cover that I bought from Miniso stay in my home? Yes, because it covers the random tissue box prints and makes my home more aesthetically pleasing. I wouldn’t say that little thing sparks joy per se, but it is part of one big picture.
I’m also a maximiser, a recycler and hate to waste. I’m also a researcher and often keep things for future reference. I’ll say probably half of the stuff I archived are useful and the other half eventually makes it way out. But in between that is where my struggle lies!
I try not to be too fanatical about these cleaning/decluttering/organization methods, but just try to be more aware of what I actually need/use in daily life. Keep the functional everyday items away from the seasonal items (store the seasonal one). Have a personal elegant theme or a theme for your house and ask yourself it those items fit. Have people over so that will increase your consciousness of what items need to go. Also take pictures of your place as though you are going to instagram them. I also have a charity basket in my house where stuff gets added regularly so when it is full, it goes into my car and into the charity bin on my way home.
So my point is, everyone has their own or WILL HAVE TO DEVELOP their own system. But a clean and organized home should be a priority whether you are good at it or not.
This is part of creating a loving home, and members of the home will feel more care and love from you and each other when this is a high priority.
Even if home making skills lack, and you may not enjoy the work, do your best or hire help. I’m definitely not talking about being fussy perfection. Admittedly, there are times when you may feel time is better spend doing other things other than cleaning! (I just spent 2 hours cleaning and preparing the house for a family dinner party, and now I have about 20 minutes to try to finish writing this article.) I also treat myself to the luxury of additional help for 4 hours once a week.
Sloppy living leads to sloppy thinking
There studies shown about the damaging effects of clutter and a disorderly home. Not only does a sloppy home directly impacts the way you live and go about your life, you may find it hard to organize your thoughts. I do feel better when the house is neat and clean, and I get frustrated and easily anxious when “things are everywhere”.
Subconsciously, you and your family members may develop feelings of inferiority and shame due to the state of your home and how you live.
Thus, an organized home saves time, promotes feeling of pride and wellbeing and develops great elegant habits!
- Have house pride, create a version of your dream home
On top of having an organized home, have a house that you can be proud of!
Don’t underestimate how it will change your countenance when you live in a home that you are proud of.
Also, that love will be exemplified when your family is proud of the home they live in. No matter your circumstance, use a little creativity and good taste to beautify and create your elegant home. You can read up about how to do this in your own style of elegance here. Studies have shown that people who live (or children who grow up) in homes they are proud of develop self-confidence and social skills.
Hope this article will inspire you to create an elegant home for an elegant mind and heart! xoxo