Lightening the Look

by Pamela Hughes

One of the pleasures of this time of life is the simplification of our personal lives, as the world itself seems to becoming more tumultuous and complicated.  Between the blaring of TV’s and noise everywhere we turn, and the abundance of information and data being thrown at us, the sanctuary of the home is our place to restore peace, quiet and balance. 

Our schedules are intense, and much of that is fun and stimulating.  We welcome it.  But at the end of a day, we want a little solace and respite from it all. 

Not only is our calendar and the scheduling of a little “down time” good for our psyche’s and our souls, it is essential to our well-being.  Paired with making time for ourselves, is the possibility of making our homes more serene and welcoming. 

Particularly, as one retires, or is just coming to a second or part-time home, the ease of one’s life there, with minimal upkeep or effort, is important.  One of the ways we make our homes and projects more restful is to not fill them with clutter. 

Good design allows the eyes to rest.  Place pieces of furniture and art so that they are useful, important, and have some space between them.  They then become more important, without visual competition, and therefore more special. 

The space between objects not only makes a room seem larger and more spacious, but the objects themselves then have a greater impact in the feel of the whole room.

One of the trade secrets of good design is simply editing.  We often pare down what our first inclination is, for accessorizing, for example.  A simple fine bowl for a table, rather than a collection of objects, however interesting, often pleases us more. 

That said, one of the things we have found most effective when we have clients with collections of objects is that they look best and are more effective when grouped together.  A whole series of disparate objects is not nearly so intriguing as a table or shelf of the same thing.  Then you can compare their differences and similarities, be awed by the variety of form, shape, style, color, finish, every aspect of that thing.  When they are scattered throughout a home they lose the impact of themselves, it starts to feel like clutter and the passion of the collector is less apparent.  Whether they are a series of prints, a collection of art glass paperweights, or perfume bottles or porcelains, all are enhanced by their own company. 

Of course, if you have too many of anything, it becomes overbearing and you should look to “de-accession” - as the museums are fond of saying.  In this way, as you learn more about what you are collecting, your tastes become more knowledgeable and refined, and your collections should demonstrate that development. 

One of my own dreams is to have a wonderfully bare and minimalist place.  But I like fine objects too much, and so have acquired things that I love as I have moved through life.  My dream place wouldn’t be large, but would have expansive plain walls and just a few precious objects to showcase.  The corollary to that is that it would need a very large storage room, so that my objects would be stored and brought out one by one, to admire even more strongly due to the austerity of their surroundings.  A simple rose is magnificent and thrilling in a budvase, but gets lost in the abundance of a large bouquet. 

Our lives most likely cannot be either so austere, or so full of things as to be oppressive.  Do what you can to weed out the unnecessary and keep the personally important.  Much of this is really just organization.  There are people who can assist you in this effort.  They call it de-cluttering, and help you answer the questions of what is important enough that you want to keep and what is it time to let go of.  You would be surprised at how freeing it is to get rid of things.  They hold you down and slow you down.  By removing the things that are not important you make room for what is important.  You will be rewarded with light and space and that evanescent feeling of lightness that we all treasure.

Hughes Design Associates