Digital distractions are inevitable nowadays, so how can you design a space that inspires you to unwind and—more importantly—unplug?
This airy, open beach house, designed by West Chin Architects, features a great room with a 26-foot-wide glass door, allowing indoors and outdoors to flow together undisrupted.
In an age when people are plugged into their devices 24/7, it’s all the more important to have little corners of your life where you can let go. Depending on the design, interior spaces have the potential to instill a sense of serenity. With so much clutter piling up in the mind from Twitter feeds and to-do lists, physically clearing away the clutter in your life can be transformative.
Debra Gildersleeve, an interior designer and the owner of Renee’s Mattituck (10095 Main Road, Mattituck, 631-298-4223), suggests using pieces that double as storage, like ottomans and mirrored chests in the living room. “This is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to create a calm and peaceful environment,” she says, because it keeps unnecessary items out of sight and therefore out of mind until they’re needed. “Design should be beautiful and functional, not distracting,” she adds. “By eliminating televisions and other entertainment systems in certain rooms, you can create an oasis to unplug and relax.”
Southampton-based interior designer Elsa Soyars (300 N. Sea Mecox Road, Southampton, 631-875-1694) agrees that decluttering is essential. She also believes there’s a science to producing this kind of tranquil environment. “One has to understand the elements that create harmony,” she says. “Color, texture, shape, proportion, comfort, and lifestyle are essentials that I instinctively live by.”
In this kitchen by Debra Gildersleeve, decorative storage pieces are used to create a tranquil space in the heart of the home.
For Austin Handler of Mabley Handler Designs (34 Head of Pond Road, Water Mill, 631-726-7300), it starts with the color on the walls. “It may seem obvious,” says Handler, “but the first thing you can do to create a calm, tranquil environment is to choose a soft, soothing paint color. Then balance that with fabrics in complementary tones and artwork that’s interesting.” By working with a calming base color, homeowners can choose bold designs or eye-catching fabrics.
Lighting is also an element crucial to design, and Handler believes every fixture deserves a dimmer. “You have to be able to balance the light and create well-lit environments,” he says. “Installing shades and curtains on motorized mechanisms can help create a feeling of serenity as well. With the touch of a button, shades or sheers can close to quickly block out light or distractions.”
A well-conceived kitchen, the heart of the home, is also extremely effective in changing the house’s whole feel. “The kitchen can be a vehicle for primitive distractions that help you stay away from virtual ones,” says West Chin, principal of West Chin Architects, Designers & Decorators (25B Newtown Lane, East Hampton, 631-267-3066) in East Hampton and New York City. “A kitchen layout that is both functional and communal is an integral part of the synergy of the homeowner and the home.”