Some homes feel great as soon as you enter them. When they feel right, not just look good, you know you have a space that encourages positive energy that will nurture you in the busy times.
The start of the year is often a time for renewal, with many of us setting new goals, revisiting our priorities, cleaning out what we no longer need or use. It’s also a time when we typically have more time and space before the daily demands of work, family, and life return and we feel ‘busy’ becoming our natural state again.
The proliferation of the word ‘busy’ in our modern conversations has the word become a badge of honour. Yes, we all have a lot on. We spend more time in an active state due to our increased connectivity to technology, pervasiveness of work into life, social obligations and extracurricular activities.
Home should become a refuge, a sacred space of sorts where the stressors of the outside world are forgotten. We should return home to nurture ourselves, rest and recharge.
Unfortunately, the explosion of modern conveniences to ease the burden of the busy Australian family means that often we are surrounded by technology at home with little awareness of its prevalence in our lives.
Amidst the minimalist furniture in our living room one can see multiple laptops and phones strewn despite my repeated attempts to hide them, my family continues to leave them out for ease of access. We can hardly ‘rest and recharge’ when notifications are reminding us of deadlines or long-overdue responses to the friend who contacted you a week ago. So, what impact does that constant movement and feeling of ‘being on’ have on us?
London studio West Architecture converted a church into a retreat-like home that evokes peace through its use of minimalist furniture, no unnecessary detail and bespoke joinery for ample storage.
We seem to be yearning for less ‘on’. How do we create that feeling at home so that we can easily find this when we need it most?
I see that making your home a refuge is centered around two core principals - purposeful design and intentional disconnection. Here’s how…
Cultivate a calm space with Feng Shui, simple living and minimalist furniture design
Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese practice of living in harmony with the environment – especially in terms of spatial arrangement and orientation – to produce good “chi” or energy flow. If we consider the core principle of living in harmony within one’s environment, consider the things that are discordant with a feeling of calm.
Surfaces that are piled high with lots of items? An overflowing laundry that needs folding? A pantry of expired goods? What are the things that hit you with a feeling of angst each time you see them? Make time in the coming weekends to nip these irritants in the bud. These subtle acts will considerably affect your headspace upon returning home after a hard day at work. Plus, when investing in minimalist furniture design or thoughtful pieces for your home it’s a shame to distract from their beauty with clutter.
Church-turned-home by West Architecture photographed by Ben Blossom.
That leads me to Simplicity, a philosophy we hold dear at Plyroom. We design minimalist furniture and modern bedroom storage that facilitate a simpler way of life as we perceive a minimalist environment to be a key contributor to living a smoother, less-stressful existence. Minimalism or simple living has never just been about sacrificing or getting rid of stuff. Like essentialism, the pursuit of simplicity has always been arriving at a deep understanding of what leads to a happy and meaningful life.
Choosing to live with less (both physically and intangibly) allows us to fill our lives with the things that truly matter whilst reducing the amount of mental load given to insignificant things. Our design practice echoes this philosophy. Our process of minimalist furniture design unifies functionality, contemporary design and essentialism to create modern pieces that simplify everyday life through organisation, versatility and living with less.
“We ascribe beauty to that which is simple; which has no superfluous parts; which exactly answers its end” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Intentional disconnection: how to disconnect in a hyperconnected world
We’ve seen the emergence of spaces specifically designed to help humans eschew the pull of modern 24/7 connectivity. Restaurants that prohibit phones, accommodation and health retreats designed for digital detox and planned time away from our devices are now commonplace. So how can we set up our spaces to reduce reliance on tech and remove the constant pull of the iPhone?
Habit guru James Clear discusses an out of reach, out of mind approach. By putting barriers between yourself and your technology you curb the likelihood of usage. He discusses placing his phone in a separate room for a significant part of his working day. If it were in front of him, he would be inclined to mindlessly scroll. If James places his phone in another room, this physical barrier (albeit small) makes him less likely to get up and retrieve the phone for a pointless peruse at the screen.
Our new Scrivette Desk is an example of our modern furniture designed to contain storage - easy hideaways to keep tech out-of-site and organise clutter that affects everyday quality of life.
We embrace a similar approach by placing phones / tablets in a specific place to ensure they are out of sight at certain times of the day. Our collection of minimalist design furniture subtly integrates storage into everyday pieces, encouraging this behaviour change (and giving everything within the home a home).
We also believe in keeping the television out of the living room (if you can avoid it) and definitely away from the bedroom. We are habitually conditioned to lounge on the couch or snuggle in bed with a movie. This can be the best thing in the world after a busy week, but regular downtime is important if balancing a busy life and this cannot be achieved when stimulated by the thrills of our latest Netflix fixation.
Refugi Lieptgas by Georg Nickisch + Selina Walder is the epitome of a simple space. Albeit impractical for everyday living, we dream of soaking in a bathroom like this at the end of a busy week.
If you are familiar with Pavlov's dog theory, you will know that we can be conditioned to respond to certain stimuli. The chime of a new email may evoke a sense of anxiety. The siren of a morning alarm jolts you wide awake. The notification of likes on an image may instil satisfaction. Good or bad, these sounds will sorely disrupt a sense of calm or peace – especially when winding down in the evenings. I have ‘do not disturb’ activated from 7pm until 7am to silence the interruptions and encourage disconnection in order to recharge before the day ahead.
We often look for a cure-all that will heal our exhausted, deflated selves after a busy week and yet it is the modest changes that are most impactful. By purposefully curating a simple environment and choosing to disconnect from tech at home are giving yourself the space to properly rest and recharge to handle whatever tomorrow brings.