Home is more than a sheltering roof and embracing walls. It goes beyond style that’s cozy or cool. Yet, each day, homes are boxed and sold as square footage, curb appeal and resale value. Certainly, these are smart and practical considerations, but what’s vitally important gets lost in the bargain. Moreover, the beautiful images on architecture websites and television shows overlook the most essential element in creating a home—your soul. If the core of your being isn’t welcomed where you rest your head, you will never feel at home. Not feeling at home, your body and possessions may have an address but the one who experiences those things, you, will be left with a subtle, nagging sense of being homeless.
Because most architecture ignores the soul, few people know how to provide for it. At best, attempts are made to address the soul by providing inspiring spaces. What is not understood is how the floors, walls, roofs, furnishings and other elements of a house can be designed to nurture and delight the elusive qualities of the soul.
To create a home for the soul, we have to experience what the soul is. There are many descriptions of soul. Here is mine. Soul is sensed in the force that animates our thoughts, words and actions. It is the wisdom that shapes this animating force into patterns of experience. In the depths of our being, soul is still and boundless. On the surface, it flows in a countless variety of emotions and thoughts. Despite its elusive nature, soul has specific qualities we can understand and sense.
Genuineness, depth and connectedness characterize soulful experience. In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore writes: “soulfulness is tied to the particulars of life—good food, satisfying conversation, genuine friends, and experiences that touch the heart.” Soul is nourished by variety, quirks and idiosyncrasies. It is the glue that links mind to body, body to home and home to Earth. It yokes the rooms of a home to the events that take place within them. The shared, universal qualities of soul become meaningful when they flow into the personal characteristics that define your individuality.
Soul is not necessarily linked to religion. A person may access soul through the prayers, rituals and scriptures of her faith; but she can also encounter soul in a flavorful stew, the caress of a lover, and the textures of a pine floor. A chapel within a vast cathedral may be a shrine of spiritual peace, but a window seat in a living room can offer a haven of quiet renewal.
A home that nurtures and delights your soul cannot be described in a checklist of attributes. It is the result of consciously designing rooms and selecting furnishings to enliven the qualities of soul that are personal to you and your family. The forms, textures, colors and qualities of light and space that nourish you indicate your individual characteristics of soul. Your memories of meaningful places, images of homes that visit you in dreams and enriching travel locations point toward the images of soul to incorporate in the design. The foods you love, the films that move you and the art that delights you also hold keys to the qualities of a home that will care for your soul. Specific ways of translating your personal qualities of soul into the design of rooms and furnishings will be discussed in later blog posts.
When you incorporate these personal qualities of soul into your house or apartment the core of your being is nourished. The totality of who you are is cared for and welcomed. Life becomes more poetic and artful, more meaningful and alive. Your house finally is your home.