I haven’t looked at the news for two weeks; I just had to take a break from crazy. So much goes on in the world that is unpleasant, to say the least, and no amount of funny baby or dog videos can make up for it.
Seriously, now, more than ever, we need our homes to be a refuge, a haven, a place where we can rest. Before you start stock-piling canned goods and building a gun cabinet, I am talking about creating an atmosphere of peace.
I am one of those people, and I know there are many others, who find great comfort in the outdoors. The sound of the birds chirping, the smell of hyacinth and lilac wafting on the breeze, the cotton candy clouds that soften the sunset; all of this calms my mind and refreshes my soul. Whether you have a huge property or a small backyard; whether you are in the country or right in the middle of the city, you can create a little paradise for yourself, you can find sanctuary.
As I am writing this I am watching a bumblebee checking out the lilac bush in my yard; flowers and flowering shrubs go a long way to creating your own little Eden. Our brains respond positively to beauty; in fact, the response of our brain to beauty is similar to what happens when we fall in love.
Our gray matter also likes a good scent; pleasant smells are stress reducers. Some wonderfully scented and easy to grow flowers and shrubs: lilac, hyacinth, dianthus, oriental lilies, phlox, sweet peas, my all-time favorite, lily of the valley, lavender, peony, alyssum, and, of course, roses.
Water features are another way to contribute and sense of peace and well-being to your sanctuary. If you have the space, a small pond or fountain is a nice addition; if you don’t, consider a small table-top fountain. Plug it in; add some H2O and, ahhhhhhhh. Alfresco Home has some beautiful fountain options; view Family Leisure Water Fountains here. If you have a pool, you can add to the effect by including a fountain. The Color Cascade Waterfall Fountain has mutliple effects (pictured right), and also has a light; view the Color Cascade Waterfall Fountain here.
Adding a fireplace, fire pit or similar feature can also bring a sense of sanctuary to your outdoor space. Flames are hypnotic, transfixing, and comforting, especially on a cool evening, sitting quietly under the stars.
Even if you have very limited space, you can incorporate lanterns or candles for the desired effect. A portable wood-burning firepit is a good choice if you don’t have the space or inclination to add something permanent. Try the St. Augustine Fire Pit Set if your outdoor space is limited; view the St. Augustine Fire Pit Set here.
There are also a variety of Do-It-Yourself gas firepits available if you like the convenience of flicking a switch; view Family Leisure DIY Fire Pits here. If you have the space, you can take it up a notch and have an actual outdoor fireplace installed; view Family Leisure Wood Burning Fireplaces here. Imagine pulling up a chair and relaxing in front of one of these beautiful options.
And speaking of chairs, my idea of a sanctuary always includes a book and somewhere comfortable to park myself to read. There are so many options for astoundingly comfortable outdoor furniture these days. One of my all-time favorites is the Terrace Deep Seating by Woodard; view Terrace Deep Seating by Woodard here. I really can’t describe how comfortable this furniture is; you literally sink into the cushions and are provided with a cozy little nest to read or listen to music or stare off into space. It’s all good.
Another one of my cozy favorite is the Cortland Deep Seating, also by Woodard; view Cortland Deep Seating here. Like Terrace mentioned above, those extraordinarily comfortable cushions make for a cushiony oasis. And the chairs (rockers, springs, etc.), sofa and loveseat exhibit a transitional style that mixes traditional Greek-inspired looks, with contemporary lines.
Do you love modern patio furniture? A little more contemporary look in a comfortable cushion is the Skyway Deep Seating by Windward; view the Skyway Deep Seating by Windward. Another up-to-date option is the Leeward Deep Seating by Telescope Casual; view the Leeward Deep Seating by Telescope Casual here. You can’t go wrong with any of these; just be prepared, you aren’t going to want to get up anytime soon.
Add a few bird feeders or a bird bath; some statuary or sculpture that brings you pleasure or a tinkling wind chime. An arbor is a nice touch or get an outdoor screen to add a little privacy or create a “room” with outdoor curtains; attach them to a tree branch and tuck yourself inside. We all need a little sanctuary.