Satish Kumar, former monk and long-term peace and environment activist, in his latest book Elegant Simplicity, writes about the failings of our consumer-led approach to happiness – he describes it as being spiritually dead and environmentally unsustainable. The alternative, he says, is elegant simplicity. The journey to personal tranquillity and happiness begins with shedding ‘stuff’ and psychological baggage.
Can a simple and elegant home really make us happier?
One burnt-out London commuter shares her story in The Telegraph. Victoria Harrison was unhappy, stressed out, not sleeping and jostling for space when she finally made it home from work with boxes of sentimental artefacts and piles of unopened mail everywhere.
Harrison reached such a low point she wrote a book about it. She says, “I came to a very obvious and beautifully simple conclusion. It’s the simple things in life that have the power to bring us the most happiness,”
Harrison started to make changes leading to a clean, organised home. She used colours that lifted her mood and calmed her mind. She connected to the outside world by bringing lots of living plants indoors. She is now a committed de-clutterer.
Asked in her interview with the Telegraph if she ever craves the latest interior trends, she said, “Yes! Dark walls, so often I think, ‘I’m going to paint this wall in Farrow and Ball Down Pipe.’ But then I remember that white is what I need to stay chilled, not dark grey.”
Embrace new neutrals
Could it be that the planets are finally aligning? Are we starting to realise the error of our dark, dizzy and cluttered ‘interior’ ways? With a new wave of neutrals gracing the interiors scene, we could be right in thinking so.
Earlier this year it was announced that beige is the new grey! If Beige seems a step too far, try greige, which is hailed by designer Patrick Baglino (according to House Beautiful) as warmer than grey and “as comforting as a bowl of homemade chicken soup.”
I hate to harp on about Kumar’s call for greater sensitivity to the way we live, but let’s not forget we are heading for a potential climate catastrophe. So, why not start the journey to mend our ways with our homes!
A new range of calming neutrals is the latest trend making a stir in the home, from off-whites and creams to blush and flesh tones. It’s the perfect colour range to transform our homes into simple and elegant living spaces. With greater clarity in our lives, we might be inspired to take our newfound zen out into the wider world.
50 shades of white
Tricia Foley writes of ‘50 shades of white’ in her book Lifestyle: Elegant Simplicity at Home. An eloquent play on words, and a far cry from the erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, the chapter in Foley’s book aligns with the words of Henry David Thoreau. ‘Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity’, as he wrote in Walden.
Foley loves simplicity and order. One look at her renovated home and you can see how beautifully she masters the art of white in her interiors. She achieves nuances in the all-white colour scheme using different paint finishes, such as matt and semi-gloss.
Sleep easy in luxury
Bedrooms especially benefit from calming and serene colours. This Parisian-style bedroom uses subtle tinted colours to create a luxurious and decadent feel without a bright or dark colour in sight. In doing so, the design also cleverly manages to embrace elegance and simplicity – not an easy thing to achieve all in one space. The great thing about this room is that nothing is too bold. It’s artistic, yet simple, and it works.
Pattern and texture
If you are afraid to let go of colour, don’t fret. It is actually much easier to do than you might think. When it comes to interiors, texture is often overlooked, but it can really add dimension without resorting to brightly coloured accents.
Wood grain, velvet, metal and linen can be used in the design of an interior to add contrast and influence the overall look. Even in a monochromatic colour scheme, upholstery can be used to great effect. Velvet, silk and linen, for example, will all lend their own dimension.
One word of advice – don’t overload textures in interiors. The look you are trying to achieve is one of elegance, serenity and simplicity. Textural overload is as busy as a room full of colour.
I hope you are inspired to make a change and embrace a life of love and happiness. It’s simpler than you think.