Photo: Anna Guzzi Photography /
Close your eyes. Still your mind and focus on yourself. It’s not easy with so many stressors in our lives, but you can have a little slice of heaven in your own home by creating a tranquil space.
“Life is challenging in the 21st century. We multitask and are on call 24/7, tied to our computers and smartphones,” says Christel Autuori, a longtime Ridgefield resident, yoga instructor, and director of the Institute for Holistic Health Studies at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, emphasizing the need for a serene space to rest, regroup and reset. “Having a designated space provides a safe haven, an oasis of peace and serenity to stop and catch our breath, and clear our heads before returning to the rest of life.”
Autuori explains that the room should incorporate natural lighting, or subdued artificial lighting; soft furnishings, such as comfy cushions or an inviting chair; and soft, spa-type music to ease the mind. “Ideally, this space should have a window so you can look out at grass, trees, birds, clouds, and other gifts of nature. Or, you can have photographs or pictures of natural scenes as it’s been proven people relax and heal more readily when looking at nature,” she says.
Keep the space free of clutter and distraction, Autuori advises, but include accessories such as tabletop fountains or small waterfalls; photos of special places or people; religious icons; and aromatherapy using essential oil diffusers that help ease anxiety. “Himalayan salt lamps emit negative ions which enhance the immune system and promote health at the cellular level and help clear the air of airborne allergens, toxins and pollutants,” Autuori explains. “Spending time in nature promotes a sense of calm and peace, so include a piece of driftwood, colored leaves or berries, fresh flowers, shells or sand from the beach.”
Autuori also owns her own business, Integrative Health of Connecticut, which was founded on the premise that we all have the innate capacity to create and maintain health and wellness. “We provide health and lifestyle coaching, consulting and education, stress management programs and workshops, and gentle yoga, relaxation, and meditation classes for individuals of all ages,” Autuori says.
Susan Buzaid, who is co-owner, with Robin Curnan, of Olley Court in Ridgefield, explains a calm space can be an entire room; a library; a master bathroom; part of a closet; or anywhere that suits the design of the home and a homeowner’s needs and personality. “If someone is a reader, they might find solace in a library with a fireplace and no media. For an athlete, we can create a gym with an area for contemplation and meditation. Yogis need an escape to breathe and focus,” says Buzaid, noting individual health and wellness priorities factor into the space and style.
“For a yoga area, it’s pale colors, soft towels, a mat, perhaps a plant, and calm meditative art. If you need to be reminded to breathe, perhaps an abstract art piece with the written word breathe!” says Buzaid who uses organic fabrics such as linen, cotton, wool or hides. “For small spaces, a chaise or a modern chair with an ottoman draped with a comfy throw and pillow is perfect. These spaces should be layered with texture and calm in color.” Lighting and music sets the tone. “You should have levels of lighting. Ceiling, wall and table lighting is important even in a small room. For calm, use one with more yellow light,” says Buzaid.
A bedroom can be a refuge to relax and restore. “A bedroom can be tailored to personal taste, needs and comfort. A spa-like bedroom requires a comfortable mattress, quality linens, plump pillows and fluffy comforters. A cozy chair and ottoman is a welcome addition,” says Debra Sippel, president of Design by Debra Sippel in Fairfield, who explains a private space should reflect what’s most important to the homeowner. “This extends far beyond style to include both physical items and feelings that bring comfort and peace. Artwork or a meaningful photo that evokes a happy memory, a gift from a loved one, something purchased on a relaxing vacation, or something handmade is appropriate to add to the ambience.”
Sippel suggests using wallpaper made from natural fibers such as silk or grass cloth with subtle patterns, serene colors and tone-on-tone motifs. “A bedroom needs to be softly lit for relaxing and reflecting. When selecting light bulbs, choose soft or warm white with a dimmer feature. A chandelier is a beautiful touch, candles can add a calming fragrance, and some clients prefer the comfort of a ceiling fan.” For accessories, Sippel recommends a soft rug, a beautiful lamp, a vase filled with fragrant fresh flowers or a soft fern or topiary, and a place to set a glass of wine or cup of tea. “Privacy and room darkening window treatments are an important consideration in creating a bedroom sanctuary.”
According to Laura Freed Ancona, co-owner with Christy Abate of The Angel Cooperative® in Ridgefield, “It’s important that people feel their homes are their sanctuaries where they can escape and relax,” says Ancona. “Carving out a dedicated room or area helps promote that sense of peace and tranquility, especially in households where there are busy kitchens and family rooms, offices, and playrooms.”
Color influences moods and emotions, so Abate advises using soft, neutral colors to provide a sense of calm. “Painting walls a warm neutral or robin’s egg blue will evoke a peaceful feeling. Incorporate other soothing colors like lavenders, greens, peaches and other earth tones into paint, bedding, artwork, fabrics or decorative objects,” she says. Adding music helps slow and deepen your breathing. “Playlists can include sounds of nature or chimes, bells or singing bowls. Select music with gentle waves, mountain streams, chirping birds, a gentle breeze, rustling leaves.”
The Angel Cooperative carries home décor and spiritual products that create a sense of harmony and balance, including crystals, candles, incense, statuary, and meditation cushions. Also, it’s home to the first Shungite Room in the U.S., a room made of the natural material that’s known to have healing powers. Abate, an interior designer certified in feng shui, uses the ancient Chinese design philosophy to create spaces with the right energetic and harmonic balance. “Creating a serene space allows you to have a space that supports you, your goals, and intentions,” she says.
Reconnect your mind/body/spirit in your own hideaway. “It’s critical for one’s peace of mind, and health and well-being,” says Autuori. “Develop a habit of giving oneself the gift of serenity and stillness for a few moments each day.”
Christy Abate offers tips on how to incorporate feng shui into a space or room:
1. Designate a space in your home for meditation. It should not be near the main door or above or below the kitchen or bathroom. It can be in a quiet corner of the living room or bedroom or a dedicated separate room.
2. Remove clutter.
3. Cleanse and bless the space asking for prosperity and peace. Burn sage to release any negative energies.
4. Remove shoes before entering to leave stress and the outside world from coming inside.
5. Include a cushion for sitting, artwork that evokes a peaceful feeling, a surface to burn candles/incense, objects or statues that reflect your religion or beliefs, and plants, such as lilies, bamboo, and jade (plants have vibrant chi and draw chi to them).
6. In feng shui, every room includes something representing the five elements — wood, earth, metal, fire, and water. Incorporating these helps one to stay grounded, centered and connected to the environment. Each element is represented by a color. Incorporate an object or color representing the five elements. For example, include a wooden bowl with pebbles next to a vase with fresh cut red flowers and a white candle.
Black = water; green = wood; red = fire; yellow, tan, and brown = earth; white = metal.
7. Open windows for fresh air and to move chi around the space. Allow light in the room.
8. Add a faceted crystal above your head where you meditate or in front of your gaze. It should be hung by a red string in multiple lengths of 9”. Crystals bring more light into a space and move energy around to create better flow.