A Reflection of Self

Creating our home sanctuary

By Nikki Luttmann, Interior Designer

If these last few weeks have taught us anything, it is that our home truly is our sanctuary from the outside world. As I write this, I am cozied up on the couch with my 9-year-old, who is adjusting to her new version of “normal,” the center of which is our home. So, what can we do to make our home more inviting, comfortable and reflective of who we are?


Whenever I feel my home is in need of a bit of sprucing up, I try to look at it with clear eyes. What would a stranger feel when they walk into our space? Would they see clutter, old magazines, newspapers or schoolwork? Would they smell the salmon that we cooked for dinner last night? Would our home be welcoming or off-putting? Think of the sense of calm you experience when you walk into a spa or luxurious hotel. At this time in the world, we could all use a little more ‘calm’ in our lives and our environments.


One of the first things I do when I walk into a new space is to assess the clutter. Clearing clutter is essential for having a welcoming, inviting home. Now, this does not mean that you need to have to subscribe to spare minimalism; it just means that everyday detritus is not on view for all to see. As William Morris said, “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” So, if you believe your china bunny collection to be beautiful, then by all means, keep it! Stylists display collections all together so that it reads as a whole and not as a lot of competing items.


Another key element is our sense of smell. I love walking into a spa and breathing in that healing scent of essential oils and expensive candles. Diffusers, candles, incense, all of these have the potential to help create a lovely environment, but they can also overwhelm. I love pairing fragrances together, but I always try to use good-quality candles and stick with natural selling options like lemon, mint, grapefruit or evergreen. Overly perfumed scents can be difficult as they do not necessarily read as relaxing. When choosing scented products for your home, ask yourself if it’s something you might experience in a high-end spa. If not, put it back!


In creating our home as a sanctuary, one of the most important elements is self-expression; having art on the wall that you love, colors that speak to you, and furnishings that are specific to your needs and wants. All of these are important, but we can take it one step further. If you love to cook, make sure that your kitchen is stocked with beautiful dishes, good-quality pots and pans, and most of all, is clear from clutter! If you love to read, make sure you have adequate shelves and storage space for your collection of books. If you love to paint, set up a space in your home that allows you to indulge in your passion. If you meditate regularly, set up a space of calm specifically for this practice.


The most important thing to remember in creating our own sanctuary is that our home is our own. Arrange things how you like them. Don’t model your home after the latest Better Homes and Gardens issue. Also, bear in mind that sprucing up can be done on any budget. It might take some persistence, but wonderful quality things can be found at thrift stores, garage sales and even church rummage sales. Build your home slowly; it does not have to be done overnight.


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