If you spend time on social media, you’ve likely seen people talking about maximalism—buying more, consuming more, veering towards the culture of “hauls” and collections.
When it comes to home design, it's important to embrace slow curation and design with intention. There's much to be said for taking the time to get it right. Good design is functional and beautiful—meeting your needs and bringing you joy.
Starting with the Right Design
As many of my readers and social media followers know, I’ve been working on my own home for a while now. It's been a process, and we've had the luxury of taking our time with the design decisions to ensure we get it right. Throughout the design process, I've carefully thought about materials, layout, the purpose of each room, and even the feeling and mood that I want to evoke in the space.
Photography: Caroline Sharpnack
Using an intentional design approach means that you should take your time and carefully consider the following before you create and adjust a room, a space in the home, or the entire house:
· What is the purpose of this space?
· How am I cultivating a space of health and well-being?
· How can I facilitate the activities in this space comfortably? (Consider lighting, ergonomics, and spaciousness.)
· What feeling do I want to evoke in this space? (It could be energetic, restful, nurturing, or something else.)
· How lasting do I want this space to be?
As you explore the purpose and intention of each area of your home, consider the materials used in that space. Are you selecting materials that are healthy and safe? Look at non-toxic finishes, low-VOC paints, and more natural components for flooring and walls. The best way to cultivate intentional living is to create a healthy environment with natural elements that speak to your home's seasonal rhythms and outdoor environment.
Light is often a critical factor in setting up an intentional feel for a space. Soft lighting can create a restful, relaxing atmosphere, whereas energizing bright lights may be better for workspaces like the kitchen, a home office, or a vanity. I recommend plenty of natural lighting with windows and skylights whenever possible. Natural light goes a long way toward creating the right house feel and providing a connection to nature.
Other considerations might include outlet placement, the temperature of the space, and access to smart home features. For example, does the space need individual climate control? Does it serve the unique needs of your family to have your home audio system run through a bathroom or laundry room? While these "logistics" might not seem like intentional design, they are important in maximizing your comfort and well-being within a space.
As you consider the intention of a space, ask yourself how long you plan to use the area for this purpose. For example, you may only use a nursery corner of your bedroom or a temporary home office for a few months before transitioning to something different. If a room will serve a specific purpose for a long time, then it's good practice to give it careful consideration. The time spent in a space can guide you in terms of how much time and effort you want to spend cultivating and creating that area.
You may face limitations if you're working within a home or space already built out. However, working within your current layout can still be a creative experience and a great way to build a decor style that fits your needs. It allows you to reexamine those lesser-used areas of your home and really bring together a space that meets all your needs. What adjustments could help to make a room warmer, more inviting, calming, or functional? What would make your home your favorite place?
Photography: Caroline Sharpnack
Curating Intentionally Designed Pieces
Once you’ve worked on the intentional design of your home’s layout, it’s time to curate the pieces that will go into the space. There’s something important to be said about taking your time to deliberately consider each piece that goes into your home—from furniture to decor.
Furniture and decor is where I truly believe less is often more. You should buy only pieces that you truly love. That way, you’re more likely to love them for longer. Yes, slow curation can take time, but it’s well worth it.
If you want to end up with a home where every item is meaningful and beloved, avoid following the latest trend and fast design—the type of items that are there just to be there.
Think of it like fast food. When we fill our bodies or our spaces with "junk," we don't feel as well. It's not nourishing when we go for the cheap-is-more mentality. Much of what we find in stores today is mass-produced, using materials of lesser quality that aren’t as healthy for us and our homes.
Not only is this consumption bad for our well-being—it's also bad for the environment. Much of the quickly produced products today end up in landfills. These items aren’t built to last. The cost takes its toll on our health, our wallets, and the globe.
Instead, make purposeful decisions. Look for items that are handcrafted and made with high-quality, natural materials whenever possible. Look for clean lines, neutral colors, and lasting materials to create a strong foundation. Now, keep in mind that these pieces can initially cost a bit more and take longer to find, but they’re better viewed as an investment.
A carefully built dresser made of hardwood will last far longer than a pressboard and laminate-coated chest of drawers from a superstore. Invest in items that you love—and that have been handcrafted with care.
Older pieces are often solid and well-made. They were slowly crafted, carefully, and deliberately by artisans—that attention to detail shows. These items are often unique and beautiful, with personalities and history that add depth to your home.
Choosing Meaningful Decor
Similarly, when choosing decorative pieces—vases, objects, and interesting bric-a-brac for a bookshelf or end table, take time to find pieces that speak to you. It might sound a little silly at first; after all, a vase is just a vase, right?
By choosing pieces that are personally meaningful to us, we curate a space that we want to return to. We gather items from our travels and from different times in our lives. Curation is a slow process. It’s not something that we should rush or force. Our home should reflect lasting memories and personal touches of our experience.
There's often a sense of urgency that we should quickly complete our home. But really, our home design should be a work in progress. As we grow, change, and evolve with our experiences, so can our home decor. If you feel that an area of your home is a little sparse or you haven't found the right item, it can be a perfect place for flowers or a plant. Add a living touch to help hold the place for a longer-term item.
When we take time for intentional home design and curation, we end up with a home full of pieces that last. We let go of the urge to fill up a space quickly. It also helps us break the cycle of buying more and filling our homes with things that don't bring us a sense of satisfaction.
I personally enjoy looking for items when I go on vacation. A trip abroad is a wonderful opportunity to find something handcrafted with memories and meaning attached. I also look at antique stores and consignment shops for interesting pieces with a storied past.
My tastes veer toward the natural—a beautiful stone, a hand-woven rug, or a carved wooden tray. Natural materials typically age well—appearing more timeless and blending well with other items.
You can even intentionally select books and artwork. For example, look for books that fit a room's aesthetic and bring you joy. Select artwork that evokes the mood you aim for in a room, whether it's a sunny landscape or a busy modern street scene. The idea is to take time to cultivate the right personality for a space. The components of the room should further that and support it.
Even something as seemingly innocuous as a room's scent can significantly impact the personality. If you diffuse oils, choose botanicals with properties that support your intention—relaxing lavender for a bedroom, refreshing lemon or mint for a kitchen, etc.
Ultimately, design with intention is about slowly creating an elevated space that feels comfortable and nurturing to your happiness and well-being! It’s an ongoing process but one that can shift your entire mode of thinking about your home and space.
Tell me below: what are your intentions for your home? How do you evoke the right mood within your spaces?