As a kid I enjoyed going over to my Aunt and Uncle’s house. Their house was filled with lovely, “exotic” furniture… a cream-colored brocade couch, orange velvet chairs and an ornate side table with a real marble top. Posh stuff. Stuff that made our furniture look tatty and unsophisticated.
Their house was carefully curated. Everything new. No antiques or wonky bits from the past. Nothing chipped or tarnished. Nothing personal. Very few photos. Nothing to mar the effect. Even their paintings were generic landscapes that never inspired me. And the indoor plants were all fake…plastic or silk. As much as I loved going there, even as a kid I felt something was missing.
I realize now that their house lacked…SOUL.
For me, homes with soul invite you to curl up with a book and have places to nap. You can relax in them. They are sanctuaries. They have personality, the owner’s personality, not some interior decorator’s personality. They have beautiful, interesting things that feed your soul…simple, uncomplicated, imperfect things:
- Cozy afghans, quilts and pillows that can be used.
- Books. Real books. Not matchy-matchy display books.
- Candles that get used. Everyone looks good in candlelight.
- Old photos.
- Unexpected things…antique horn cups, a basket of matchbooks, a vintage typewriter or camera.
- Artifacts that celebrate your spirituality…a cross, crucifix, Madonna, Buddha, Star of David.
- Real plants…ferns, ivy, violets, orchids…whatever your fancy.
- Toys from your childhood…a Tonka truck on the bookshelf, dominoes in a bowl or marbles in a jar on a coffee table…why not?
- Finds from nature…shells, skulls, wind-blown nests, rocks, driftwood.
Room #1 – This tiny living room, though a bit too crowded for me, seems jam packed with life and soul. Can’t you imagine coming home from a long day at work and feeling comfortable and at peace in this room?
Room #2 – Or how about this larger room? Cozy and comfortable with intriguing bits. I’m ready for a nap right now!
Room #3 – At first glance I loved this condo with the amazing views and great neutral palette. It’s a beautiful room and yet on second glance it looks cold, impersonal and uncomfortable. I would need to make some changes to make it truly livable and truly inviting…to add some soul. First, I’d replace that low coffee table thing in front of the sectional. Using that table would be awkward at best. Second, the piles of magazines and vase blocking a walkway by the couch gotta go. Bad idea. Then, I would have to add a few soft throws, maybe in turquoise, and some soaring industrial shelves for books and personal bits. And where’s the lighting?
Imagine the condo above with some shelves like this only taller. Cool, right?
Bottom line, my goal has always been to make our house a soulful home for my family. A home where every room invites use. It is a work in progress, but a happy work in progress. I’ll share photos sometime!
Of course a soulful home may look different for different people. What do you need to make your home soulful?