For the last couple of years I've worked alongside leading British interior designer, Kelly Hoppen MBE, presenting her live interior design shows on QVC, (the nations most loved shopping channel: broadcasting live 364 days a year, for 16 hours a day and accessible to 27 million homes in the UK. Oh and their turnover in 2014 reached a cool £450 million.) Kelly has built an incredibly strong brand with an equally rock solid philosophy behind it: great interiors are wonderful because of how they make you feel, first and foremost, rather than their aesthetic. The buzz of live TV is the best and I feel very honoured to be an ambassador for such an inspirational woman and her iconic brand.
Recently I've put some thought into how my work with the interior design world (and corresponding obsession with the look and feel of my own flat - yes my husband has come home to several wall colour changes and new pendant lighting installations, not to mention the steady flow of cushions/things to put on our walls that have caught my eye or even a total mix up when it comes to where certain pieces of furniture 'live' - I blame feng shui!) links with my other real passions - theology, philosophy and spirituality. *casual blend going on here.
Often during a debate in which individuals are disagreeing over theological or spiritual matters, the analogy of the elephant in the room is used. It goes a little something like this. A group of blind men, or men in the dark (or women *my own personal addition here), touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part; the trunk, legs, tail, tusk etc. They compare notes to discover they're in complete disagreement. This parable, which originated in the Indian subcontinent, has filtered into many religious traditions and is beautifully simple in showcasing how we feel/go in search of/want to understand the elephant (life, death, the universe). Though we all have access to the same objective thing, subjectively we interpret, and get a piece of, very different things. *Side note - this is a great one to have up your sleeve if you're a natural harmonizer and diffuser of heated chat.
The term that best encapsulates the dots I am trying to join up here - spirituality and home design - is well being: that is our 'elephant'. Whether it's the thread count of the Egyptian cotton sheets you're sleeping on, your newfound yoga addiction, or unquenchable prayer/meditation habit that keeps you sane, we're all essentially doing the same thing when it comes to these lifestyle choices. What is 'that thing'? It's a reaching for that Zen like feeling, one that nourishes and keeps you happy and content in life.
The distinctions between the spiritual and physical are more blurred now than ever. I recently filmed a short documentary at The Kabbalah Centre. During my visit, the leader of the centre noted that the gloriously high ceilings the centre boasts help those attending classes to feel a sense of spiritual height. Similarly, gorgeous aromas wafted through the adjoining rooms thanks to the unadulterated joy of scented candles and I happened to spot many an energy boosting crystal throughout my day there. What's going on externally clearly does have an impact on our internal lives. Get your interior design in check and you might just remodel the interiors of your mind.
Here are some surprising ways in which the interior design of our homes may reveal subconscious anxiety and fears.
• Artwork and mirrors hung too high = creation of a subconscious feeling that you can never measure up, manifesting in low self esteem or fear of success
• An excessive amount of belongings = fear of uncertainty
• Décor that hasn't been updated = fear of change
• Evidence of procrastination and avoidance (think piles of paperwork and clothes, un-hung pictures etc.) = fear of failure
• A super ordered home where anxiety is lurking behind the teensiest possibility of mess or broken house rules = fear of losing control
So what are the solutions? (In corresponding order, drum roll please...)
• Artwork and mirrors should be at eyelevel to subconsciously reaffirm realistic expectations and boost self esteem
• Remind yourself that true security can't be found in items you buy and that hoarding creates the subconscious message that you're in need - you don't want this to become a self-fulfilling prophecy!
• Move things around, even big pieces of furniture like your bed, desk or kitchen table. Making these changes will help keep your home fresh and remove a sense of stagnancy. Place your bed and desk so that your back doesn't face the door - you should feel empowered by being able to see who is entering, no surprises please!
• Tackle the hardest thing on your to-do list first, (rip-off that plaster style) and enjoy the relief that comes from being clutter free - it will help you to see, literally and metaphorically, your successes and strengths
• Chill out and go with the flow. Mess will happen but we all prefer a relaxed vibe to an uptight one...
In summary, your home is not just where you put your stuff, it's the place where you recharge, dream, grow, love and create memories. It's your safe haven.
With the sight of Buddha statues adorning the shop floors of John Lewis, the Eye of the Sun God, Ra - an ancient Egyptian symbol of spiritual protection - on the bed linen I lovingly stroked on QVC yesterday, and the irrepressible infatuation with crystals, incense sticks, candles and corresponding inspirational quotes filling our magazines and Instagram feeds now in 2016, there is an undeniable correlation between the interiors of the homes we create and the structural, internal walls of our minds, spirits, souls and general personhoods. Get busy.