~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #209
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“Your home knows your past, it directs you toward your future, and it gives you the comfort of ritual. There is nothing on the planet that knows you and nurtures you like a home. You simply need to give it the tools to take care of you.” —Home Sweet Maison: The French Art of Making a Home by Danielle Postel-Vinay
Whether we’ve lived in our home for years or only months, tending to our sanctuary is a near priceless gift we can give ourselves when it comes to our inner peace and well-being.
Earlier this year author Danielle Postel-Vinay’s new book Home Sweet Maison was published offering readers a tour of a home, room by room and how to incorporate what she has incorporated as inspired by the French culture and her French husband.
The book is a personal journey, exploration and revelation of how by turning our attention to harness the power of our homes, we, as she shares in the above quote, give ourselves a most wonderful and powerful gift to elevate our everyday and ultimately the overall quality of our lives.
Today I have selected 10 ideas that captured my attention, but there are many more within the pages of her book. As she shares in her introduction, “Take what you like and reject what you don’t until you create a French-influenced home that is perfect for you.”
1. Create a thoughtful entry/foyer
Make it unique. Introduce yourself to the world as this is where you greet the world and the world greets you. Choose a shelf or small table top to display your “memory theater” enabling guests to pause, look around and get to know you, if even to create a bit of mystery about the inhabitants. Your personal story and hints at dreams for the future can also be revealed. As well, make it functional – a coat rack or stand – to immediately allow guests (and yourself) to enter the home and begin to relax.
2. Give each room a purpose
“Fluid spaces introduced by the open floor plan [by Frank Lloyd Wright] create a sense of endless freedom and light in your home, the appearnce of unity and togetherness. But I wonder if this appearance of togetherness translates to actual togetherness?”
When we choose to give each room a purpose, we also communicate to ourselves the ideals we aspire to, a place to practice our values and share them with those we love. Whether it is the dining room being a space to gather tech-free and stay in touch with the lives of those we share the home with or our bedroom (la chambre) in which we share with most intimacy those welcomed into our personal sanctum, similar to our sartorial choices communicating without saying a word, our rooms communicate, encourage and support what we hold dear.
3. Embrace hunger and dine together at designated times during the day
Postel-Vinay sprinkles anecdotes of her French husband’s foray into American cuisine and approach to food. Between the larger portions and not waiting to eat until a specified time so everyone can gather and the food can be appreciated, he encourages and reminds how feeling hungry is not the same as feeling starved. Hunger is not bad, he reminds. In fact, it elevates the appreciation for the next meal when it is time to sit down and enjoy.
4. Celebrate the food that has been prepared
Similarly to the point above, her husband is dismayed by the Americans’ lack of appreciation for the food that was thoughtfully and with great time created to be enjoyed. An appreciation allows for an understanding of where food comes from and how it was prepared enabling diners to slow down, consciously enjoy the the food and thus not overeat. I also applaud this approach as it nudges us all to eat well and intelligently. In other words, what is it you enjoy about the food? What are you tasting? And you can then carry this into the kitchen to better understand how food is made, prepared, seasoned and its full flavor brought to the table.
5. Encourage all to participate and all topics to be discussed
While some may adhere to the edict of not talking about politics or religion at the table, I would propose, it is how we talk about these topics at the table that ensures that thoughtful, yet still impassioned conversations on any topic can be had. When we ignore our audience and choose to commandeer the table as our bully pulpit to share our opinions, then we have relinquished respect for fellow diners, but if instead we engage in thoughtful, elevated, conceptual conversation, all people can consider, some may learn, some may accept and some may rise to the challenge to offer another thoughtful opinion demonstrating that so many ideas have many shades of grey.
As well, Postel-Vinay shares that the French encourage all guests at the table to speak, even the children. Practicing conversation and listening skills, but also demonstrating how to participate in a conversation which leaves no one out and recognizing when someone is monopolizing the conversation is a life skill for any situation involving effective communication.
6. Cultivate a boudoir (which is not the chambre, or bedroom)
“a place of refuge, somewhere to go when the world [is] too cruel, a safe place to let one’s guard down”
I too learned more accurately what a boudoir is I mistakenly equated it with the bedroom. But while tangent to la chambre, it is the room or space which leads or precedes the bedroom. Perhaps the lounging area of private gathering complete with a chaise lounge or dressing table or a meditation room off to the side of your master suite; however you want to decorate your boudoir is up to you. The key is you. While Postel-Vinay shares, such rooms are not found as much anymore in France; however, to create a space in our homes for “personal retreat” and a space to “reflect your personal taste” seems to be a worthwhile return to the past.
7. Keep the bedroom private
In other words leave the bedroom off the home tour.
8. Choose neutral high quality cotton sheets for bed linens and avoid of fancy patterns
Simple, timeless, sensuous and beckoning. Our bedrooms need to be a place of refuge, escape and where restorative slumber takes place. Here is a detailed post about curating a bedroom for comfort and tranquility.
9. Choose a boutis quilt for summer bedding covers
Often found in the south of France, Provençal traditional quilting offers boutis “in which a thin layer of cotton, silk or wool batting is covered on both sides with thick cotton fabric, then quilted.”
10. Take the television out of the bedroom
For sleeping, reading and intimate moments with your partner. That’s it. That is all that is needed. Keep it simple, keep it brilliantly lovely and a space you look forward to returning to at the end of the day.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVE YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~11 Ways to Make Any Home Your Sanctuary, episode #105
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