When I was living in New York, I found the energy of the city so stimulating that in order to fall asleep at night, I would listen to calming, self-hypnosis tapes as I would drift off. The tapes always began by having me visualize my “perfect place in nature”, so I’d visualize myself lying in a hammock looking up at tall trees, high above a babbling creek. One day, a friend invited me to a lecture given by “Sun Bear”, an Indian chief and author of several books. His talk was about the importance of nature and how we were meant to live in harmony with nature.
Several days later, some of the city’s underground steam heat pipes burst up through the sidewalks spewing boiling water and asbestos up into the air just blocks from my apartment. I took this as “a sign” and left the city soon after, returning to my native state of Louisiana.
Fond memories of Louisiana’s beautiful West Feliciana Parish and its charming town of St. Francisville beckoned. I called the first realtor listed in its yellow pages and described the type of property I was looking for: Several acres with so many trees that I would have very little yard to mow, so private that I could see company coming before they could see me, and if it were at all possible, a babbling creek.
Later that day, the realtor showed me property with all of those features. It was perfect. Several weeks later, as my home was being built, I was lying in a hammock looking up at the 100′ tall trees supporting it, about 25 feet above Alexander Creek, and it hit me! Creative visualization really does work, even unintentionally! If such things as serenity are important to you, think of the way you feel in your “perfect place in nature”.
Your home should be emotionally comforting. If it doesn’t lift your spirits at the end of a hectic day, it’s not living up to its obligations as a place of refuge and retreat. According to the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui (which means wind and water), the design of your interior spaces should echo nature, balancing the five elements of earth, water, fire, metal and wood, with earth being the central element. These elements contain all matter and together create “chi”, the vital energy that connects man to earth and beyond. When all of these elements combine in a space, as they do in nature, they create a greater whole that becomes the space’s aura. Their interaction promotes a direct connection between your own breath of life and the spaces you occupy.
Based on this theory, I created my line of Full Spectrum Paints and will be posting “Perfect Place in Nature” palettes to help inspire you to create your own sanctuary. Today, I’ll start with my own palette (Buttercream, Ashen Green, Magnolia, Azure, Alexandra Blue & Light Terracotta).
The main living area wall color “Buttercream” was chosen because this soft, creamy yellow creates an atmosphere that promotes hopefulness and communication, stimulates creativity and the intellect. It has been featured in more than one issue of House Beautiful Magazine and two of their books. In the House Beautiful iPad App, Buttercream is one of only two colors that is touted as both “calming & happy”!
I used “Ashen Green” trim on all millwork since my small cabin is in the woods surrounded by lots of lush greenery. Although this is a gray-green with blue undertones, it also works well with the browner, mossy greens, which are in both of my sofas. The Master Bedroom is painted “Magnolia” and because it is small and there are so many windows and doors, I painted the trim in this room the same color. Although Magnolia is a dark color, it embraces the coziness of the small room and connects you to the outdoors–like being on a porch! Also, the color green is THE most healing color and like all cool colors, it is very soothing and restful.
The Guest Room is painted “Azure”, a sunny pale sky blue that studies have shown to induce sleep and reduce inflammation–known as the “Florence Nightingale” color.
You’ll note from the photos that all walls and ceilings are painted the same color which softens the space and cloaks it in color. I especially do this for cathedral ceilings and low-ceiling rooms with no crown molding because it visually raises the ceiling height. My daughter Alexandra’s room is painted “Alexandra Blue”, the color of the sky at twilight. This color is so relaxing, I often hang out in her room when she’s away at school. The periwinkle undertone makes the color so misty, you want to put your hand out to touch the walls as they seem cloud like.
The Master Bathroom was originally painted “Light Terracotta” which is both cheerful and flattering to skin tones. The Euro Guest Bath walls are handmade tiles in the same color with a “Mykonos Blue” ceiling. I had artist Sally Conklin paint over the Master Bath walls and ceiling telling her “I want to feel like I am outdoors in a Monet painting”, so she came through in a big way incorporating the original color.