As we prepare for our winter hibernation, at least us in the Northern climates, we start to pay more attention to our inner sanctuaries-our homes. Now, even if we don’t live in the “frozen tundra” of Green Bay, the rainy Pacific Northwest or on the northern border in Maine, as Fall sets in and the weather gets cooler we start to adopt a “cocooning” process like our ancestors and animal friends. Since we aren’t spending as much time outdoors as in previous months, we are forced to look at our bare, white walls, or walls with artwork that was cheap that we “just hung there” to fill an empty wall. Yuck!
Part of my personal design philosophy is to “bring the outdoors in.” I achieve this through photos, artwork, painting techniques and furniture and textile choices. There is also a lot of research now in the healthcare field of how to bring Mother Nature indoors to help relax patients and help in the healing process. Remember, going outside is a “natural Prozac” with the color green being the most calming of all colors. Being outside, walking barefoot in the grass and truly connecting in nature can literally lower your blood pressure and heart rate. It’s no wonder that lots of windows with great views are a highly coveted feature in most spaces.
But what do you do if you life in a home with neighbors close by, a bad view or no windows at all? How can you ensure a view of a cloudless, sunny sky even in the dead of winter? A wonderful company called Sky Factory can take of this for you! This company replicates the many subtleties of the REAL sky! Using color temperature, pattern, hue and viewer perspective (most important!!), Sky Factory literally brings the sky right into your space. They even offer a programmable sky to simulate the natural changes from dawn to dusk. (We offered this in one of the retail chains I worked for in the Garden Area. We had customers come in just to “see the sky.”). Sky Factory makes skylights, full ceilings and virtual windows. Check them out at www.skyfactory.com to see some of their custom projects and see some of the whitepaper research on the scientific validity of their product and benefits in the healthcare industry.
***Sky Factory strives to minimize its carbon-footprint by using high efficiency and recyclable components, actively recycling waste and clients’ old components and minimizing the use of printed materials. Sky Factory has also contributed over $50K towards the protection of the environment through direct donations to the IA Atmospheric Research Institute. Sky Factory has also built a new, energy-efficient building that reduces energy consumption by more than 30%, with the goal of reaching zero carbon emissions by adopting conservation and investing in alternative energy strategies.***
When looking at our artwork, and other items we may place on our walls, we must use the same Feng Shui principles that we apply to all of our other furnishings (and clutter!): Do you LOVE it? Do you USE it? Do you NEED it? Now, do we NEED our artwork? In some cases, yes. Artwork is needed to add ambience to our spaces or it could be part of a collection. Do you USE your pictures or sculptures? Well, you could say you use your artwork for enjoyment or to fill space (not advised). But the most important question is “do you LOVE it?” If you don’t have a positive attachment to an item, ANY ITEM, it serves no purpose in your home or in life. It is merely taking up space.
When I was going through my Feng Shui classes, there was a program on Clutter and our relationship to our “stuff.” All of our items, accessories, clothes et al, all bring an “energy” into your space. If you are merely purchasing something “to fill up space” with no other emotion, you won’t derive any joy from what you’ve spent your hard earned money on. You can take this one step further, from a Feng Shui standpoint, and see what Life Area of the Bagua you have the empty walls, un-needed items or items you dislike (but keep) and analyze if this is a Life Area you are stuck or having problems. This is part of the design consultation work I do when I work with my clients! Do you have a pile of laundry in the Relationship area of your bedroom? How about a pile of un-read magazines in your Creativity area? Grab your Bagua Board from previous columns and see what’s displayed there and then see if that is a manifestation of what is going on in that Life Area.
Now, in terms of artwork and collections for our home, what do you do if you can’t find anything you LOVE and that suits your needs? First off, you can start going to art fairs, gallery openings/exhibitions and even perusing the Internet. If this isn’t your style and you want some guidance, you can work with a designer who will have contacts to even commission a custom piece for you. Photography is also very popular choice-photos of the kids, pets or vacation photos can make stunning gallery walls. Again, a designer can recommend a photographer for you.
If you aren’t currently working with a designer, or are having problems getting a good recommendation on an artist or photographer, here are 2 of my favorites: Batternay Photography and artist Midori Tajiri.
Nora Batternay is an internationally renowned photographer based in NYC. Her photos have been exhibited in Europe, Los Angeles and New York. She offers a natural, fresh and sincere approach to each project and subject. While she specializes in architectural photo shoots, she can photograph your family or event to capture the “extraordinary in the most ordinary” circumstances. What sets Nora apart from other photographers is that she also does custom fine art for designers and their clients. The designer and/or their client, describes what their vision in for the space in regards to color, theme and the feeling that they want the space (or the piece of art) to invoke. While Nora specializes in abstract works-she has worked with nature themes and black & white images. She works on a variety of mediums such as canvas or metal water color prints-a unique process she’s developed-and digital art work. Check out Nora and her portfolio at www.batternay.com.
***Interested in seeing more or commissioning a few items for holiday gifts? Nora can put together a catalog for you to peruse and get ideas!***
My new favorite artist is Midori Tajiri, a Chicago-based artist who also works in a variety of mediums. Midori is a cancer survivor who states that her artwork has evolved in a “more positive manner” since her diagnosis. Her work now is more “hopeful” and inspirational. I got to see some of the digital images of her artwork and was very impressed. Midori works with paper, paint and layering of the mediums. She stated to me that she then has “stitched” papers together to give added texture and construct to her art. Her use of color or lack thereof in some parts of her art really is amazing. She uses color to draw your eye to what she wants to highlight in her work. You can view Midori and her portfolio at www.midoritajiri.com.
***Midori’s ancestry includes samurai’s which has added to the wonderful cultural aspect of her artwork.***
I’ve only highlighted a few of the many talented artists and photographers out there. Whether you go the Target poster rack, framing your own photos or commission a custom work for your space, you must always remember to ask yourself WHY you want this item. Love what you display in your home. Remember, what you hang on your walls is just as important as what you wear on your body. What are you saying about yourself with your collections? Do you have violent images of battle scenes or dark, urban landscapes that can represent hopelessness? Do you have happy, family photos from a vacation or romantic sculptures of a couple dancing representing love and romance? Hopefully it is positive, good and represents the joy and abundance that is currently in your life. If not, check out the closest art expo and get buying!
DeAnna Radaj, owner of Bante Design LLC, can enter a space and help to tweak (or remodel, re-design) the space to work better to suit its function AND the lifestyle of the occupants of the space. Using Integrative Lifestyle Design, life quality can be increased AND be supportive to any transitions occurring, lifestyle changes or health challenges. She is an “Eco-Shui” designer, writer & consultant who helps those who are looking to lead a more healthy, balanced & proactive lifestyle. Unlike other interior designers or Feng Shui practitioners (besides a specialized focus on BEDROOMS & OFFICES), DeAnna integrates the Western (eco-friendly, universal, sustainable) & Eastern (Feng Shui) design principles & techniques, combined with goal-setting (12+ years in corporate before starting Bante Design LLC) & clutter-busting exercises to create healthy & supportive indoor environments. Spaces that reflect the lifestyle & goals of her clients, as well as helping them “design the life of their dreams”.