One common theme that has emerged in recent times is the need to create a nurturing retreat. It’s only natural that we have been searching for some calm whilst we can’t quite control what is going on in the world.
I started to think about what the key elements are of nurturing interiors are. Below I set out some common themes and simple tips to consider when designing a room that feels calm.
BE INSPIRED BY NATURE
Being in nature evokes a sense of quietness and calm. Inspiration from nature will always make you feel grounded. So look around you and see what you are drawn to. Don’t just consider the colours but also the forms you are drawn to. So the pattern that has a natural relaxed feel and soft flowing lines will be easy to live with. Harder geometric patterns or busy bold prints tend to feel less relaxing particularly in bedrooms. Take your cue instead from natural forms in nature and choose the more modern interpretations if you are worried about florals taking over!
CONSIDER A SIMPLE COLOUR PALETTE
First of all understand the colour temperature that evokes a set of calm, Avoid reds, oranges and yellows as these bring vibrancy and liveliness to a space. Instead, choose cool colours such as blues and greens. Lighter blues and greens create a sense of relaxation, so a great choice for bedrooms and bathrooms.
I would either choose a tonal colour palette (variation on one colour) or a harmonious scheme (two complementary colours). Firstly, let me explain what I mean by a tonal colour palette. This is where you choose a one colour scheme but have varying tones of it throughout the room. You need these different tones and lots of texture to avoid it feeling flat. Also, introduce some light simple pattern in the schemes too to keep it interesting. The pattern on the print of this blinds works with the country scene outside the windows.
The other option I recommend for a calming scheme is a harmonious one, which is where you choose two complementary colours with one colour slightly dominating. Choose colours from the same colour family. An example from this is green with pink or blues and greens like this lovely bedroom below.
So, in living rooms that you wish to feel calm yet welcoming what approach could you take? This is where accents come in. If the main base palette of your scheme is a calm colour you can simple introduce a little colour with cushions or accents. It’s enough to give the room a lift without changing the entire feel of the room and a trick I use a lot! In the example below the base palette is blue but I’ve just included a touch of yellow to freshen it up and stop it feeling flat. This room also benefits from the stone wall which brings a relaxed textured feel into the space. Using natural materials such as stone and wood help ground a room.
LAYER NATURAL MATERIALS
When selecting textiles choose natural fibres. Cottons, linens and wools are natural choices and feel soft and tactile to the touch. I combine them and introduce different textures to make it feel welcoming, particularly in a one colour scheme. Without this variation in textile, it can feel very flat.
I think flooring is absolutely key in a nurturing space. How a textile feels with bare feet is so important to make you feel grounded. Particularly in bedrooms when you wake up in the morning I tend to choose wool and there are also some amazing soft wool products that feel like the ultimate laid-back luxury. Also invest in the best underlay as the combination of a wool carpet or rug with a soft bouncy underlay feels amazing.
CONNECT TO NOSTALGIA
Colours that create a sense of nostalgia were already becoming more popular and anything that connects us to nature. Colour is so closely tied to emotion and can be incredibly nurturing. Think back to your family home as a child and what you loved. It’s amazing how many people are drawn to colours they had in their family home, without even realising. What you often find is that you still love those colours but perhaps in a different tone. For instance, I had blue wallpaper as a child and I still love blue (although not the fairies I had on the wallpaper!). It’s the main colour I use in my own home and studio!
Incorporate furniture that you have an emotional connection to. It’s part of your story! You may feel you have outgrown a piece of furniture but try and find a new room in your home for it. Or consider repainting to give it a nice lease of life. I have a chest of drawers in our guest bedroom that I had in my teenage bedroom! Our family home has been long sold but it’s nice to connect to that time and you can gain a real sense of comfort from it.
DON’T FORGET THE LIGHTING
Good lighting is so important in creating the right atmosphere in a room. Take a layered approach to lighting where you have four main types of lighting controlled by different circuits. General lighting is the first and less atmospheric. It definitely doesn’t add a sense of calm! Particularly when you have a grid of LED lights in the ceiling! In bedrooms, you might not need this at all if you plan your other lighting carefully. The second is task lighting which is for tasks such as reading. I try and combine my task lighting with my decorative lighting. I generally prefer feature lighting that adds decorative interest but also serves a practical purpose. Wall lights would be my preferred option by a bed for instance as it frees up space for grabbing that glass of water in the light. And always have your lights on a dimmer! I also love lamps, both table lamps and standing lamps to add a sense of atmosphere in a room.
The last type of lighting is accent lighting to enhance the features of a room. A lovely example is lighting where you highlight a tall ceiling for instance. That can create a calm almost spa light atmosphere. See my article on lighting for more tips here.
I hope you have found this article useful and it’s helped you consider how to create a calm haven in your home.