Hierarchy of the HOME; Beyond the Tangible

As an interior designer I not only work to understand buildings, finishes, and furnishings but I am also curious about the nuances of human behavior and emotions. I would define interior design as designing spaces for people to use rather than for the interior spaces themselves. Interiors are not stand alone objects to simply exist. They are meant to be experienced, interacted with, loved, and enjoyed. On a fundamental level, we have all experienced the same interior type, the HOME. However what makes up that home type will be completely different for everyone, as every person on this planet has a home base in which they locate themselves every day. But what exactly makes it feel like a home?

A developmental psychology paper published in 1943 by Abraham Maslow, presented an idea that all humans have needs categorized in five different levels and that there’s a distinct hierarchy to them. His belief was that as humans go about their lives, they transcend the five tiered pyramid as they achieve each level. He outlined those levels as physiological at the base, then safety, love and belonging, esteem, and finishing with self-actualization at the top. But how does that relate to the feeling of home? At the rudimentary level, the concept of a home can be simply be defined as a semi permanent structure to protect the occupant from the elements and danger. A structure could be defined as a traditional house, apartment, or condo. The non traditional can include a boat, tiny house, tent, RV, or any other manufactured structure the occupant designs for elemental protection and shelter. This is the foundation level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

At the next more complex level, home can be defined as a specific place where someone lives and all of the stuff that’s inside it; the furniture, the decor, and the accumulated personal items such as clothes or books. Maybe there’s a pet or two, maybe the person lives with other people or has a family, maybe they work from home so it also acts as a place of employment. This covers the middle section of Maslow’s pyramid. Covering needs such as love, belonging, esteem, cognitive needs and aesthetic desires, the home becomes richly layered with decor, trip souvenirs, sentimental tokens from loved ones, books, plants, coordinated furniture, and personalized touches such as colorful paint or pattern wallpaper. Large rooms for entertaining family and friends become a priority, comfortable guest rooms and pretty front hall powder rooms are desired. Home offices are needed to focus on work, and the latest aesthetic trends in decor are introduced. These are all beautiful ideas and items, however what happens when the home interior moves beyond the tangible?

Photo by Visually Us on Pexels.com

At the top of Maslow’s pyramid is transcendence and self actualization. Prioritization of accumulating items and creating a coordinated interior changes as the occupants shift their beliefs to the intangible. Dreams of simple stress-free living, minimalist lifestyles, scaling back decor, reducing one’s carbon footprint and going off grid blossom at this top tier. It can even be as basic as downsizing the size of the home as one prepares to age in place by moving out of their larger empty nest. People at this level know their style, whether its colorful and quirky or monochromatic modern to coastal grandma and are striving for a home that’s calm, tranquil and nourishes the soul.

The application of Maslow’s needs hierarchy theory to interiors and the concept of home creates questions to ask yourself next time you are shopping for new home decor or pondering a renovation project. When gathering items for your home, pause a moment and ask yourself what is it providing for you physically, socially, emotionally, or financially. Will it serve your best interest long term or simply meet an immediate feeling or need? Do you need it or do you just want it? But, most importantly…contemplate about why and maybe work on that deeper issue instead.

Thanks for reading, please join me again next time. Check out my new “All Things Interior Design” podcast, available on all podcast platforms, as I delve into my blog archives.

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner and Interior Designer

Daricilar Design Studio – Millis, MA

Minimalism; back to basics.

I love minimalism, I believe the lifestyle philosophy is hugely beneficial for both mental clarity and lifestyle simplification.  Its a reoccurring theme in my blogs.  Last year I wrote about minimalism in a two part series Minimalism & Living Simply; Part 1 and Minimalism & Interiors; Part 2. The topic is also mentioned in many of my other posts including those about purging and downsizing, check out my blog archive for more.  In this blog, let me get back to basics, both in regards to minimalism in interior design and in a broader sense of life itself.

People have a preconceived notion about what a minimalist interior looks like.  Words used often have a negative connotation like barren and stark.  Case in point, the photo below:

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Its a simple room with only the most basic furnishings.  Most likely this photo was staged this way to make an obvious point.  In reality, minimalist style doesn’t have to be so…well, minimal.  For me, I would furnish a room with all the necessary items and then stop when something has no purpose other than being idle decor.  Simple window shades, for example in the photo above, would not detract from the minimalist aesthetic.  Its all in the way that its done.  In reality, these windows would need covering for both weather and privacy.

For a minimalist decor approach, if it serves no purpose or meaning then it should not go into your home.  Its visual clutter, fills up a space, and eventually just needs dusting.  Visual clutter and chores create stress and prevent relaxation.  Minimalism goes beyond the aesthetic but rather its about life simplification.  So that minimal interior isn’t barren and stark, rather it should really be considered simplified and calming.

The purpose of minimalism is to return to the basics and focus on what’s important in life.  Simplification for the sake of getting more enjoyment from the space and being mindful of the actual activity.  Some people would say “oh, but its not cozy!” I’m all for a cozy space, bring on the Hygge factor.  The very definition of Hygge is cozy, its a Danish philosophy focusing on the people and activity but not all of the superfluous stuff.  And you know what else does that… minimalism.

In another post I can easily write about an aesthetically pleasing cozy atmosphere that’s filled to the hilt with stuff.  But to defend my point, all of that stuff had still better serve a purpose.  To all of those people who say “I can’t get rid of my things!”, I’m not asking you to, but just ask yourself this: is your life calm? Are you relaxed or stressed? Do you have a list of chores and always find yourself searching for something or having to tidy up the house?  Maybe you’re not ready to be a minimalist yet, but would it help to start being a “reductionist”?

Join me next time for another thought provoking design topic that hopefully helps bring you insight for your home, business, and life in general.

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer

Daricilar Design Studio    –    Millis, MA

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Downsizing; finding the RIGHT fit

I’ve lived in 200 sf and I’ve lived in over 3,000 sf.  Both of these sizes provided everything I needed…at the time.  That’s the key, living in a space that provides you what you need at the time.  It’s simple and basic, but many people don’t do it.  Their house is either bursting at the seams with people and stuff or they are rolling around like marbles with empty rooms they no longer use.

If you’re fortunate enough to be able to choose the house among several, realize the home isn’t just the style or location but also fit. Knowing and really thinking about the stage of life you’re in currently and probably the next 5-10 years will allow you to choose correctly.  Budget is a separate issue altogether; what you should buy and what you can afford to buy can often be two very different numbers, therefore housing options.

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When people live in a space for a few years the phrase “I need more space” often starts creeping in.  It’s not that you need more space, you just need less stuff or better organization. (Check out my previous archived blogs under the minimalism category)

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Houses now have man caves, living rooms, family rooms, play rooms, teen hangout rooms, bunk rooms, craft rooms, finished attics, rec rooms and finished basements. That’s a separate type of room that 50 years ago used to be all the same room.  Let that sink in for a minute…all the same room. Whoa, right?

Once settled in the +3,000 sf house, people feel like they’re always picking up, tidying, cleaning, and honestly- constantly walking around stuff.  Kitchens now have two islands and built in banquettes, breakfast bars that seat 6-8 plus a dining room to host 8-10 people. That’s a lot of places to sit and eat a piece of toast with your morning coffee. Also a lot of counters to clean and furniture to walk around.

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Have you ever cooked in a really small kitchen? It’s fun! You’re at the stove, turn around you’re at the sink. Need a knife? It’s in the drawer right next to you. Need something from the fridge? It’s beside you an arm’s reach away. While you’re stirring the pot, the spice rack and spoon rest are most likely beside you already.

So what’s my point? Just because your mortgage says you can afford the +2500 sf house doesn’t mean you should. Think about that cute craftsman you saw or that 2 bedroom town home, would they really work better? What would the added income, that you would save every month from your mortgage, do for you? Can it pay off a car loan, old student loans, zero your credit card, then bulk up your neglected retirement accounts or maybe start a nice juicy college fund for your kids? Just think about it…

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Join me next time when I discuss decor and accessories with a purpose and meaning. Thanks for reading, have a great day!

Sincerely,

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer

Daricilar Design Studio    –    Millis, MA

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Minimalism & Interiors; Part 2

Welcome Back!

This is part two of my ongoing series regarding minimalism and living simply.  This month I discuss minimalism and interiors.  As I mentioned in my previous month’s blog Minimalism & Living Simply:

“Any style of interior can be minimalist by simply not getting lost in the details and decor.”

Often times in the glossy decor magazines the rooms are filled to the hilt with accessories.  I’ve always felt that when designing an interior that the room needs space to breath and the eye needs a place to  rest.  This is where minimalism shines.

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Simple & Functional Kitchen

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Simple Bedroom

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Minimal & Modern Office Layout

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Rustic & Natural, Minimal Decoration

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Urban & Simple Minimalist Apartment

See? All different styles of interiors, but they’re ALL minimalist in nature.

Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, father of modern architecture is credited with the famous design phrase “Less is more.” however after delving in further, I found the phrase, under the same context, first appeared in a line of “Andrea del Sarto, The Faultless Painter”, a poem by Robert Browning.  Regardless of who said it first, the statement remains the same.  Less IS more.

To reiterate my minimalist point even more, this month’s blog even mimics my mantra when approaching minimalism in interiors. Don’t get lost in the details.  If you are developing a minimalist approach to a room, I invite you to share it with me via my contact page.  I would love to see what my readers are doing or work with you on a project!


Next month we step away from minimalism and into the DIY world of kitchen renovations.  If you want your kitchen project finished in time for the Holiday season, you must start now.  You can do it, but let me help you.

Sincerely,

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer

Daricilar Design Studio    –    Medway, MA

Join in September: “10 steps to a budget friendly, DIY kitchen renovation.

 

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Minimalism & Living Simply; Part 1

Introduction

This isn’t a one and done blog topic but rather an introduction to a new, more satisfying lifestyle for those seeking simplicity.  Are you downsizing or leaping excitedly into a tiny house or cottage?  Maybe your cluttered or full rooms make you feel overwhelmed, like they’re taking over?  Or, do you enjoy looking at bare counter tops, sleek furniture, and tidy rooms?  The beauty of minimalism and living simply is that you get to define it by how it makes sense for you and your lifestyle.  Most likely you know where you fall on the minimalist spectrum as it covers furniture design, home decor and design, fashion, lifestyle and personal processions.  Terms like simple, streamline, uncluttered, pure, serene, calm, bare, and essentials, will resonate with you and you’ll strive to enact these principles into your life.  Welcome and keep reading!

minimalism, living simply, serene

Question

I was asked recently how does someone live minimally when their spouse wants to hoard and keep everything?  This situation is a common frustration among couples.  Luckily, the solution is simple: start with your own stuff.  This will help relieve some of your burden and lighten your load.  Hopefully, along the way, your spouse will join you in your efforts.

Purge

In two of my previous blogs Making room in your rooms and Evolving rooms and flexible spaces.  I discuss how to clear out the clutter.  For those who are ready to start really simplifying its time to purge the surplus from your home or business.  Below is an outline of categories I’ve cultivated to reference when starting to reduce:

  1. Clothes, shoes, coats, & seasonal gear
  2. Bags & luggage
  3. Furniture & decor
  4. Bedding & linens
  5. Pans & baking dishes
  6. Pantry & refrigerator
  7. Tupperware & food storage
  8. Cleaning supplies
  9. Toiletries & medicine
  10. Office & desk
  11. Bills, mementos, & mail
  12. Books & media
  13. Electronics, gadgets, & small appliances
  14. Junk drawer & tool box
  15. Holiday decorations
  16. Toys & sporting goods
  17. Car & gardening supplies

Spend time clearing and reducing items from these categories until you only have your desired and used items.  Some categories may be very easy while others may require more time.  Once you’ve exhausted this list, you should feel emotionally and physically lighter.  Arrange a charity to pick up your items, sell them, or pass them along to someone you know, just free yourself. minimalism, living simply, meditation, stacking stones, serenity, calmness

Maintain

Now, its time to start putting in place some principles that maintain your newly found freedom.  What may seem like discipline will quickly come routine.  Additional resources are abundant on this topic.  Two that I am familiar with and follow are the Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus and becoming minimalist  by Joshua Becker.  If you want to learn more in depth on the living minimally then these three gentlemen are a great go to resource.

A few principles that are constant throughout any minimalist reading deal with the accumulation of new things once you’ve purged the old.

  1. 1 in 1 out Rule. If you bring something into the home then an old thing needs to go.  Example, if you buy new shoes, then toss out the old ones.
  2. Stop Leisure Buying.  Going shopping at the local mall used to be a common Saturday activity.  People have accumulated a vast amount of clothes that they rarely or no longer wear.  The too tight designer jeans bought on clearance, the leather boots that make your feet hurt, the wet suit you bought for that one vacation,  and the wool ski sweaters that make you itch, its time for them all to go.  Now, with the help of online shopping, the impulse of casually browsing is reduced. Only shop when you need something.
  3. Getting Unusable Gifts.  Receiving a gift from a loved one is wonderful, if you can use it or want it.  However, if its not your style or useful to you, thank them, keep it for a while you’re comfortable with and then pass it along.
  4. Keeping Nostalgic Items.  This one is very difficult.  Some people want to keep everything because of its meaning.  Ask yourself “If I get rid of this item, did that event/person change?” You still have your memories, the situation still occurred.  Baby clothes for example, keep the “coming home” outfit and your favorite onesie and then pass along the rest.  Teens’ sport/activity t-shirts are another nostalgic category.  Memory quilts are popular options for sentimental clothes and then can be actively used again.  If you or someone you know doesn’t sew then there are companies online that will make the quilt for you, simply mail the clothes to them and six weeks later, your memory quilt is ready.  Children’s drawings and artwork is another tug at the heartstrings.  Every year, purge out the ones you and your child don’t really care for, take a photo of them and toss them.  Keep only the ones that you cherish and frame them or place them in a memento box.
  5. Saving for “One Day If…”  It makes financial sense for children’s clothes to be kept for younger siblings but if you’re hoarding things in the garage and your basement is bursting, its time to reevaluate.  “You might need that one day” is a slippery slope.  Use it today, plan for tomorrow, but never keep for what if.  Your house is a home to live in not a closet to store stuff.
  6. Traveling Light.  I’ve heard this from so many seasoned travelers, travel light.  Once you start this practice, you’ll never want to travel burdened with big suitcases again.  People who travel heavy need to have a lot of options and feel completely prepared for any situation and don’t make outfit decisions before they leave.  Check the weather for your trip, make outfit choices that mix and match and leave the rest at home.  If you have access to a sink or bathtub, then you can do laundry.  When I studied abroad for four months in college, I packed one week of warm weather clothes, one week’s worth of cold weather clothes, and travel sized toiletries to cover the first few days there.  All of my clothes layered with each other.  I had space in my luggage for my art supplies, souvenirs and items that I bought there during the four months.  For a regular vacation, a small 19″ carry-on and a backpack will work for you just fine, you’ll see.
  7. Capsule Wardrobe/Uniform.  Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs made wearing the same thing everyday trendy.  Their wardrobe of a gray tshirt and black turtle neck respectively, with jeans became their signature looks.  Who would dare comment to these two successful gents if they wore the same shirt yesterday?  They’re tech icons and they rock the “uniform” idea.  A capsule wardrobe (~30 items) is much easier for many people to get on board with and adopt.  I’ve even read about seasonal capsule wardrobes, however I feel that idea is stretching the concept beyond its intent.  The idea of a capsule wardrobe harks back to the 1900’s where people simply didn’t own a lot of clothes.  Instead, they owned only what they loved, choosing quality over quantity and maintained them. Don’t fear judgement as you embrace your freedom and lighter lifestyle.  A minimalist wardrobe will simply be another aspect to your lifestyle and extension of your beliefs. Your coworkers will see your tidy workstation and your friends will see your uncluttered home, then understand your capsule wardrobe as completely logical.
  8. Minimalism & Interiors.  I’ll continue this blog next month to cover minimalism and interiors in depth as many people have a preconceived notion that minimalism has to mean modern, not necessarily so.  Any style of interior can be minimalist by simply not getting lost in the details and decor.  Tune in next month for a more in depth discussion.

Remember that minimalism is a lifestyle, a practice, and a way of life that alters the way you see your possessions and environment.  Set them free and they will set you free.

Sincerely,

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer

Daricilar Design Studio    –    Medway, MA

Join in August: “Minimalism & Interiors