Home as Refuge

patina This morning I woke up thinking about why our homes matter so much to us.  Why do we spend countless hours thinking about them, decorating them, cleaning them and working to pay for them?  Why do people pay me hard- earned money to renovate them, stage them, design them and decorate them.   Yes, I wake up thinking.  It drives my husband crazy.  He is a night owl- comes to life around 8 pm and often is still going strong at 1 am.  (Remind me to tell you about the furniture moving wars that took place during the first few months of our marriage- he in the middle of the night and I in the wee hours of the early morn).  I, on the other hand, wake up without an alarm clock by 5:30 am and start talking immediately as if I have had 3 shots of espresso injected into my veins just prior to awaking.  I have two switches- on and off.  I am either wide awake or unconscious.  Doesn't matter what is happening around me.  In my twenties (which were spent in Manhattan of the "Bright Lights, Big City" era), it was not unusual for my boyfriend to find me sound asleep tucked into a bookcase in a dark corner of a dance club throbbing with music and pulsating lights if I was out past my bedtime.  I was never the girl to stay out all night.  That is not to say that I was an angel, but rather there is something about the dark that I have never liked.   The thought of being out all night and seeing the sun rise fills me with dread.  Anyway, I woke up thinking about why home matters this morning.

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Home is a feeling.  A feeling that it is safe to take off the armor, put down the spear and shield and let down our guard.  Home is a refuge in a hostile world.  It doesn't matter if you live in the safest neighborhood on earth,  the need for a sanctuary and safe place is universal.  I think on a very deep level, we need a place where we can be ourselves.  A place where we are completely and perfectly understood, accepted and allowed to be who we really are.   A place where we can express ourselves without any filter whatsoever and we needn't worry about being misunderstood.  So how can this deep need on a feelings level be met and translated into a physical space?  Or can it?

This is getting very philosophical. ( Now you can really feel sorry for Stu because he has to listen to me when he is still trying to float on the warm waves of  silence, peace, and perfect tranquility..."honey, are you awake? honey?... ARE YOU LISTENING?")   I think my job, as a designer, is to get to know my clients on a personal level.  To listen, to observe and to try to step into their shoes and feel what it is like to be them.  Not in a creepy intrusive way but in a subtle intuitive way.  I need to try my best to figure out who they are underneath the armor.  Then I can set about creating their perfect habitat.  For me, being a designer doesn't mean dictating a style or being an oracle of "good taste".   Rather, it means bringing all of my experience, skills, gifts and resources to bear to guide them to that place that is a physical expression for them of that longed for security.   A place that, when they turn the key in the lock at the end of the day and open the door, causes them to sigh with relief and fills them with a feeling of well- being.  A place that is not just their home, but also their refuge.