4 Steps to Create Space to Breathe

4 Steps to Create Space to Breathe

Reclaim your space by taking these four distinct steps.

We all know the experience of walking into a space and feeling completely at ease in it. The colors are in line with what makes us feel relaxed, perhaps the style suits our aesthetic. Beyond that, we recognize these spaces because they allow us to breathe.

When we breathe into a space, as feng shui expert Maureen Calamia writes in Creating Luminous Spaces, we “absorb all that we can with all of our senses. We gladly accept that wonderful energy into our bodies and energy fields. We make a space for them. They do not just reside in our minds.”

The Irish-born designer Clodagh believes in “life-enhancing minimalism,” where removing any extraneous clutter from our space allows us to actually reclaim our space and, in doing so, reclaim our lives. She was an early adopter of feng shui, and her beautiful book, Life Enhancing Design, offers insight into how to create a space that enhances vitality. She suggests going through four distinct phases before beginning to design any space:

  • Contemplate. Come to terms with your current experience of the space. “Try to identify sites of pleasure and those that cause frustration and irritation.” When you have a fuller understanding of your current experience, you can explore the realm of possibilities for your space.
  • Cleanse. Bring your space back to a “clean slate.” Remove everything from the room so that you can feel what it is in and of itself. Clodagh writes “emptiness lets a room or a space grow and allows you to grow in it.” She believes there is a luxury in space that cannot be overlooked.
  • Clarify. Become clear on what you want from the space. Recognize if you are stuck in the past in relationship to it, or if you need to revisit your vision for the space and how you want it to feel.
  • Create. Once you make your way through the first three phases, you will be ready to begin making the space a true representation of who you are and how you want to live there. She suggests that you “refer back to these four keywords as the project evolves, noting any new thoughts that emerge along the way.”

Clodagh has a visceral experience of color in her design. She writes, “in our search for wellness, we use design like a chef seasoning a dish. In emotional design, each color has a specific job to perform to promote feelings of wellness, joy, or harmony.” She encourages finding a way to represent each chakra color in the design of a room, even if it’s in a small way. “This,” she writes, will bring balance to our energy centers.”

In addition to being guided by concepts such as feng shui, wabi-sabi, biogeometry, and biophilia, Clodagh lets nostalgia guide much of her design. How a space is put together can be evocative for the senses. Specific sounds or smells can conjure memories that carry us into a feeling. “The face of nostalgia,” she writes, “is a half-smile and an inward gaze.” Nostalgia leads her to “create experiences of luxurious simplicity and comfort where the mind has space to wander, where I can savor each moment and the senses can romp in a playground of light and shadow.”

We can take time to design—or redesign—our spaces so they allow us to breathe, encourage us to dream, and transport us to an experience that is transcendent and profound.

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