Tuesday, July 10, 2012

taking care of your home: head, heart, breath and bones

This month I am enjoying taking care of my home. Nesting is in our nature, and I think that most of us want to have a place we can call a home, a place that is some sort of an oasis where we can relax, play and completely be ourselves.

Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan's book Apartment Therapy is not your typical book on home decoration and interior design. First of all, the book doesn't have any photographs:) It is not about imposing a certain style on the reader and it is not just about making your home look better, but healthier and more comfortable. The author talks about the four elements of a home: the bones, the breath, the heart and the head. To have a healthy home it is important to take good care of all four parts.

the bones:
This refers to the physical structure of your home: the walls, the floor, the windows, the ceiling and the fixtures in the house/apartment. The bones should be kept clean and in good condition. Taking care of the bones means e.g. regular dusting, fixing a leaking sink and changing a light bulb. The author suggests that on a subtle level the cleanliness of your home can impact your own energy and vitality. He lists four questions to keep in mind when examining the bones of your home:

1. Do you consider your home to be in good shape?
2. Is everything in good working order?
3. Do you take care of repairs quickly?
4. Do you clean your home often?

the breath:
The breath or the flow of your home is about clutter and arrangement. The breath can be blocked by clutter accumulation or by poor placement of furniture. Ailments include shelves and bookcases that are too full, tables and other surfaces that cannot be used because of clutter, or "dead spots" in your home, i.e. parts of your home that are never used. The author poses four questions with regards to breath:

1. Do you consider your home comfortable?
2. Do you sleep well at night?
3. Is your apartment organized?
4. Is it easy to clean and declutter?

the heart:
The heart refers to the style and the emotional life of your home. Heart elements include color, shape, texture, and decorative things. Adding heart to your home can mean pillows on your couch, rug on your floor, photos on your wall or a vase with flowers on your table.

1. Do you consider your home beautiful?
2. Do you feel you have a sense of style?
3. Does your clothing express your style?
4. Does your home express your style?

the head:
The head is the functionality of your home; whether your kitchen utensils are easily accessible, whether you have a good reading light, whether you have a place to put your bag when you come home etc. Interestingly, when I consider the homes around me, it occurs to me that the main activity that most homes support is watching tv. I am not saying that tv is all bad and evil, but perhaps there are other activities that should be supported as well.

1. Does your home support everything you want to do?
2. Do you use your home often?
3. Is there room for everything you want to do at home?
4. Is there a good space for what is most important to you?

While the idea is simple and straightforward, it has been eye-opening for me to look at my apartment with these elements in mind. I think my main focus now is on the heart and it is wonderful to see how my little resolutions are already contributing to this part: lighting candles, playing music, buying flowers. I am also working on the breath, making the bed every morning and trying to declutter. After moving between countries and continents 3 times in the last decade, I have been forced to examine my belongings regularly and haven't accumulated as much stuff as I probably would have otherwise. Nevertheless, the clutter is there, and I really want to get better at keeping my surroundings simple and fairly organized.

If you are interested the webpage apartment therapy has endless resources and ideas on how to improve your home.

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