Before Jenny bought her home she was house-hunting with her realtor, Ken. She’ll never forget one property they saw. On the front door was a KEEP OUT sign. When the two of them stepped inside, they stopped. They surveyed the dark interior, which was cloaked in shadows by the heavy curtains that blocked the sunlight. Their eyes traveled over the tattered furniture, the walls crammed with framed prints, and the shabby floors, which at one time shined. There was clutter everywhere—forgotten mail and magazines, stacks of papers and junk. Even the air felt heavy and oppressive. Jenny and Bob got no further than the foyer.
The interiors of our homes reflect the mind’s interior. Our homes say a lot about us. They tell our story and reveal who we are. Most of us want to create a welcoming home, an inviting space to invite our friends, family members and guests. Gathering places that blend comfort, beauty and function embody the art of graciousness.
A gracious person wants to make other people feel welcome and appreciated. We embody the art of graciousness when we are caring and generous of spirit, when we attend to the little touches that please people.
Similarly, a welcoming home is designed to be comfortable and inviting. Components of an inviting home can include good room flow, well-made furniture, subtle color palettes, good lighting, and appealing aromas. Here are some ways you can create a welcoming home that will embody the art of graciousness.
When a home is well-lit, it provides a sense of safety and comfort—not to mention the ability to perform practical tasks such as reading. A home that does not provide enough light is not gracious, particularly for seniors who require more light to read or perform tasks as they age.
The amount of natural light a space has is one of the key selling points of a home on the market. Dimly lit spaces make your home seem uninviting. But even if you can’t knock out a wall or add skylights, you can light a room well using multiple light sources. These might include table and floor lamps, recessed lights, sconces, pendants, chandeliers and track lighting.
If your home doesn’t have enough light, consider consulting an electrician; it’s less expensive than you might think. For instance, the cost to install a recessed light ranges from $125 to $250 each (depending on where you live). This is not a huge expense, but can make a big difference in the appeal of your home.
If you Google “before and after paint room makeovers” you’ll start to notice that a lot of the “after” pictures feature white or light-colored paint and surfaces. Perhaps that’s why, at paint stores, you’ll see so many shades of white paint (with names like White Dove and Falling Snow).
Light-colored paint on walls, ceilings, trim and cabinetry opens up a room. It brightens a small space or one that doesn’t get a lot of natural light. Clean, light walls provide a great canvas for pops of color you can add with artwork, home décor and textiles such as pillows. Using light-colored paint throughout a home also creates a nice flow from room to room, particularly in small spaces.
A well-designed room flow features good furniture arrangement that doesn’t block the flow of energy. Feng Shui is the Chinese art of creating a harmonious space that enhances the flow of positive energy. For instance, if a room is adjacent to a garden or beautiful scenery, hang mirrors on the wall to reflect the view. This will attract good energy into your home.
Good energy can circulate best when a variety of factors are in place—everything from how the furniture is arranged to the evocative scents in your home.
Make an effort to de-clutter your home and aim for minimal styling. Overwhelming a room with framed photos and knick-knacks blocks the visual flow. Also, remember the importance of creating enough breathing room or space. For instance, leave enough room between seating and occasional tables so people can move about comfortably.
How a home smells is often the first thing that guests notice when they enter. If the air is heavy with the scent of cat urine, smelly dogs or cigarette or cigar smoke, this can be an immediate turnoff to people who come to your home.
The worst thing you can do is to pollute your home’s air with chemically toxic aerosol sprays. This contributes to poor indoor air quality, which is not only unwelcoming but also hazardous to guests with allergies.
The best way to scent your home is by diffusing essential oils. These oils smell wonderful and also have exceptionally pleasing properties.
For instance, Eucalyptus essential oil has a fresh, pungent and fruity aroma that creates a stimulating and rejuvenating environment. Lavender essential oil has long been used as a calming, soothing fragrance. When diffused, Lavender adds a clean and fresh scent to any room.
It may seem cliché, but topping a table with fresh flowers in a beautiful vase really changes an interior. If you don’t believe it, try it for yourself. Pick up a $10 bouquet the next time you’re at the grocery store, and see if it doesn’t make a subtle but distinctive addition.
Fresh flowers are one of the rules of etiquette for good interior design; they are the please’s and thank-you’s of a gracious and welcoming home.