This is a continuation of Create an Elegant Home for an Elegant Mind & Heart
Aside from home organization & maintenance, some elegant principles of what makes a home, there should also be some elements to make a house feel like a home.
In my spare time, I like to post some pictures on Elegantwoman’s Instagram for my own inspiration and as a way to keep in contact with everyone. As I was browsing Pinterest for ideas, there were so many beautiful pictures, of course, most of them magazine worthy.
The reality is most of us do not live like that. It’s not just about our financial situation, or the city/country that we live in – that are the reasons for the state of our house. A home is like a living and breathing thing, things get brought in, thrown out. Events occur frequently, people move about, interactions take place constantly etc. It is a lot easier to create a beautiful static place than a living breathing one. You also want a home to be a place where everyone can relax, and not have to worry about maintaining it with military precision.
Of course, this is my opinion of what it means to live elegantly. It is not merely about having a home that is elegant in furnishings. I gravitate to homes and home decor that gives a relaxing and homey atmosphere. I prefer those instead of homes that look like modern art or like most hotels. (I understand the appeal of that aesthetic, but maybe keep that style to certain parts of the home where it is more ‘public’ than private.)
So apart from the house being ‘designed’ and elegant on the outside, I feel a house needs homey touches – that is not just for a “show of elegant taste”.
ELEGANT HOMEY TOUCHES
Though I didn’t grow up in a particularly upmarket neighbourhood, there are many warm memories of my cosy home in my childhood. There was a beautiful piano, wooden bookcase of the family’s favorite books, a big wooden table for dining and another where my brother and I drew pictures, curated our sticker collection and did our homework. My mother would wrap a huge cardboard box with pretty wrapping paper and those stored all our toys. For containers, she would also wrap all these boxes that came with packaging of goods and put them in drawers to neatly organize all the stationary and little things used around the house. I remember opening those drawers and staring at them in fascination as a little girl. These personal touches created a warm feeling of home and gave me such loving memories of my childhood.
INFLUENCE OF QUALITY OF THE HOME AFFECTS YOUR PERSONAL LIFE
I’m very sure we were just average financially, but my father had this thing about quality. Our bookshelves, arm chairs, tables were made of good solid wood. It was extremely sturdy and heavy, and the touch was just … of quality. I’m glad I grew up with that because it made me sensitive to what was good solid wood. I’ll admit that not everything in my current home matches the standards of my childhood home in terms of quality. The reason is simply because my life is more transient, having to travel and possibly move countries every few years.
I don’t believe in spending more than what you can afford, but rather, buying the best of what you can afford. Position yourself for quality also influences your state of mind and for elegant thinking. It is easy to slip into sloppiness, so in this way, be disciplined with yourself as well. This way, you will gain experience in learning how to judge and appreciate quality and value. You will come to know the value of things that will last and be encouraged to produce quality.
This is true, using another example from my work experience. In my work, I design and produce for a certain clothing label. I have to work closely with the production team from another country whose culture is very different. Perhaps it would be true to say quality and art is not a high priority in their lifestyle and it is reflected in their work. Their eye and attention to detail is far less honed than I expected, and that was the initial trouble of communicating my expectations of quality standards and design. For example, if a seam wasn’t sewn as straight or if the thread color wasn’t exactly the same, the production team didn’t think it was a problem. It was a problem for me. The garment has to look good on a hanger, as well as in the packaging, and if it lay flat on the table and of course on the customer. The production team themselves were used to a lower standard of quality and were alright with it, so it was harder to produce a niche line of quality goods (even though they weren’t exactly premium clothes). The problem all stems from their personal expectations, shaped by their culture and values of quality and art.
INFLUENCE OF ART & BEAUTY
In some practical asian culture, art is deemed unnecessary, unlike in some European cultures, where art and music are seen as important as food and water. A beautiful artistic home is viewed as ‘impractical’ and some well-to-do families will even use old towels as floor mats and have very sparse furnishings with no art on the walls or effort of design. To some extent, I relate, as I type this and am currently annoyed at my practical but not-so-beautiful bedroom. I feel it is important to ‘take care of yourself (and your family)’ by ensuring there is beauty in the house, and in every room.
Ideally, there will be art around the house, and it would be elegantly arranged in a beautiful style. The home is also a way of artistic expression. Everyone may not have a natural artistic flair but the important thing is to make an effort to learn what looks good, either by consulting friends, or furniture catalogs or an interior designer or just looking at examples online. And that is how you develop your artistic side and how you develop good taste. Art will have greater meaning as you are more aware of artistic beauty, and naturally become more observing and creative.
CREATE A WELCOMING ATMOSPHERE
I always have a warm feeling when I land at the airport and someone says to me (even the airport staff), “Welcome home”. Notice what warms your heart about your heart and strive to create more of that feeling in your home. That will enable you to really appreciate your home. You may even discuss this with other members of your home, about the purpose of each space or room, and how can you (together, perhaps) make it the kind of room that they will enjoy being in. Doing that may encourage everyone to love the home more and cooperate to make it the ideal loving living space. This will also prevent anyone from neglecting or even abusing the space. It also encourages warm interactions and for you to be more open to invite people over. That will create more loving memories and experiences of your home.
When a house provides you a home, it becomes more than a refuge from the world, it becomes part of you. Why do you want to go home so much? Why do you love your home so much? It is because you have been happy there, you have had good times and felt loved and cared for. No one ever loves a house because of material things in it. People who grew up in luxurious houses do not necessarily have fond memories of their childhood home. They will not have fond memories of such elegant glamorous homes if it was associated with bitter memories. On the other hand, many people who grew up in bare tiny homes have tender and warm memories and recollections of home. Thus, the type of home is not important. You can create an elegant and loving home regardless.