Good design is rooted in comfort. Though color and placement are crucial to the process, they mean nothing without comfort. A room can be as beautiful as ever, but if it’s uncomfortable, it’s useless. Discomfort tends to trump all other emotions. It rules our minds until it subsides.
Thankfully, comfort is a simple task. With a few key elements, any room can feel like a warm embrace from a friend.
Always keep in mind the intention of the room when applying the pillars of comfort. Lounging will call for different ingredients than a room for working.
One. Clean Air
Foul air equals instant discomfort. And it doesn’t always have to be an offensive odor. Even if you can’t smell stale, leftover air, it’s there if not addressed. Imagine riding in your car with all windows up and a cheese pizza in the back. Even after you take the pizza out, the smell lingers. The same thing happens at home. Stale air lingers. It’s heavier and denser than fresh air and effects the mood of the home if it’s not cleared.
Do what you can to move the air each day. Crack a window, turn on a fan or open the door. With one door at the front of my house, one in the back and a singular line of rooms in between, I get a breeze that enters through the front and travels ever so steadily to the back. I like a quiet, almost untraceable breeze as much as I like an assertive wind stream. I also can’t resist the cool, calm air during or just after a rain shower.
Sweeping and vacuuming are also necessary in keeping clean air. Next time you use the vacuum, observe the air before and after. You’ll feel a noticeable lift in the space.
You can clear and enhance the air at home using plants, smoke, sound, fire or water. First decide how you want to feel. This will help determine what tools you need. The element you use and the scents you choose will have varying effects. You might burn resins, incense, dried herbs or a candle. You might hang wind chimes or run a fountain. Maybe you run a diffuser or blend essential oils with water in a spray bottle.
I like the simplicity of rose water. It’s a delicate yet powerful mood lifter. For more intentionally curated blends, I suggest Resonance Apothecary. I use the Go with the Flow holy water that “has been blessed through prayer, intentions, meditation and the imprint of unconditional love. This water is charged with sound frequencies, sacred geometry and the vibration is raised with the assistance of specific plant allies.” You can also visit your local apothecary or create your own blends based on what you need right now. Beeswax candles and salt lamps emit negative ions which blanket the room in tranquility and balance.
Again, deciding how you want to feel first will help you figure out what tools you need. Having a variety of tools to choose from at any given moment is ideal.
For advice on raising the vibration of your home, look up the book Sacred Space by Denise Linn.
Two. Comfortable Seating
My idea of a good time is based on the quality of conversation being had. And I simply can’t have a good conversation if I’m in an uncomfortable seat. I can’t order my thoughts because my mind is clouded with discomfort. A good chair “must accommodate not only relaxed sitting, but also having a drink, reading, conversation, bouncing babies on the knee, dozing, and so on. It must permit the sitter to shift about and adopt a variety of positions.” Witold Rybczynski. Seating should be obvious [easy to find], welcoming [clean] and available [free of clutter].
When selecting seating, keep in mind the intention of the room. Are we lounging in this room? Are we eating? Are we working?
Lounge chairs are usually upholstered and have a little lean to them. They may or may not have arm rests and the back should support at least up to the shoulders. A place to rest the feet is always a bonus. Recliners, couches and loveseats are great go-to’s for lounging as well.
Dining chairs aren’t always upholstered but they might be. They’re more upright than the lounge chair and might stop short of the length of the back. We generally want to sit up straight while eating to ease digestion. That’s not to say we don’t eat on our couches, recliners and even in the bed…because we do. Ideally though, that won’t be every meal. As often as we can, we should sit erect while we eat. A dining room with chairs crafted specifically for dining is the perfect setting for this.
Selecting a chair to work in is a serious task. The comfort of your chair has an effect your level of productivity and the quality of what you produce. Take your time deciding. Options are endless and should support your personal work habits. Not everyone needs a traditional rolling chair. Some prefer to be stationary. Some need armrests; some can do without.
Three. Surface Space
Comfortable seating must be accompanied by surface space. Everybody needs a place to set their drink, phone, earrings, purse, a pen or anything they want to be free of for a sec. Surface space should be obviously visible. It should be intuitive for the guest to naturally set their drink down. There should be no guess work and their drink certainly shouldn’t end up on the floor. Coffee tables, side tables, desks, dining tables, night stands, dressers, etc. These are all great ways to incorporate surface space into a room. Don’t neglect surface space in the bathroom or guest rooms either. It’s just as important as in the living room.
A solid surface will be sturdy and wide enough to set at the very least a book, a phone, a drink and a small piece of decor like a candle or standing picture frame. Naturally, a useful surface will accumulate dust and debris. Be sure to wipe that down regularly.
There’s nothing like the natural light of the day. If you’re fortunate to have windows that allow it, take advantage. Open the blinds and let daylight spill in. On a sunny day, you’ll get yellow and orange overlays. On a cloudy day you’ll get gray blue tones, which are my favorite. Towards the day’s end, you might see soft pinks, purples or blues that are gentle as a goodnight kiss.
After dark, most rooms should have bright lighting for active hours, task lighting for work and dimmer lighting for relaxation or calm activities like reading or journaling. There are infinite lighting guides on the internet. I learned lots from Lighting Tips For Every Room by Jill Connors. These guides are ideal for builders and designers. But the average everyday person can function just fine with overhead fixtures and adjustable floor and table lamps. Arrange them so that they support the task at hand. Move them around when necessary.
Ambient lighting might also be necessary depending on the mood you want your home to convey. Colored lighting is not only fun but it can also support our many moods. String lights make you smile and add an element of playfulness to the space.
To get the most out of your rooms, you must be clear about what you want to use your rooms for. Take a moment to decide what you want to achieve and how you want to feel when in a specific room. From there, you can implement the pillars of comfort, allowing yourself to bend the rules when necessary. Come back to this guide as often as you need to and seek out other resources that resonate with your particular style.