Your home—from one room to a mansion—reflects your personality and sets the mood for you and all of those who enter. It can also contribute to your state of mind and emotional well-being.
For those of us who cope with depression, we need a place where we feel safe and cared for, a place where we can be nurtured. But no matter where we move, we take ourselves with us … depression then invades our new space.
Women determine the “flavor and feeling” of their homes. They are “weaving a tapestry of family life. It is a holy task, a life’s work, a spiritual journey and a constant challenge.”
I paused to consider those words and realized that I have lived in 15 different homes during my lifetime. Each of my homes “looked like me” and reflected the stage of life I was in: newlywed, mother, empty nester, etc. As I traveled through my memories, I discovered—although I hadn’t recognized it then—that I had created “antidepressant” decors. Some of the same methods and ideas may help you to create a depression-free home.
Before I share those, come with me to the “beach house.” It’s my greatest influence for creating the ambiance of a loving, comfortable, family-oriented home.
The beach house owned by my uncle and aunt is located in Virginia, along the Mattox Creek, in the center of a bird sanctuary.
Before entering the house, let me set the scene as the Mattox Creek is a unique body of water.
When I think “creek,” I picture water flowing slowly over rocks. In the heat of summer, you can wade across, splash and be refreshed. There may be fish; for certain, there’ll be dragonflies and frogs.
That vision did not prepare me for my first view of the Mattox Creek. First of all, it has a sandy beach along with a variety of tall, waving grasses. Walking through the sand, we can search for seashells, sharks’ teeth, and other ocean memorabilia. In fact, the flag pole near the house was found on the beach—it may have been the mast from a sailboat. If we walk to the end of the dock, we can see markers where crab pots are anchored. Looking across from the house, the creek is about one mile wide. When the weather turns bad, the waves become angry with roiling white caps. The Mattox Creek is a tributary of the Potomac River, which connects it to the Chesapeake Bay and then the Atlantic. Thus it also has a high and a low tide. It is a fascinating body of water with a variety of water fowl, ospreys and herons. It is ever-changing; I never tired watching it.
Now, into the beach house.
My aunt and uncle’s sense of design and their dedication to family are reflected throughout the house. It’s a wonderful example of a house becoming a home—the place of my happiest memories. The place that always soothed my spirit and washed away my anxieties and depression. A place of serenity.
Entering the large living area, the first thing that stands out is the wall of windows looking out over the deck to the creek. Binoculars are handy for watching the birds. Book shelves are filled with good reading. A fireplace, with stacked wood nearby, is ready for cool evenings. The large table will seat eight easily and is the gathering spot for coffee and tea, crafts and just chatting. The rest of the furniture is comfortable and inviting for a conversation, dozing, reading, watching the birds and the creek, or doing crossword puzzles.
The mantle holds an array of shells and other treasures found on the beach. The walls are decorated with original paintings done by my cousins. Near the galley kitchen is a framed sampler saying: “No matter where I serve my guests, they like my kitchen best.” I stitched it years ago and it has hung in several of Aunt Jane’s kitchens. A short wall near the table contains a sound system that connects classical music or easy jazz to every room plus the deck.
But my favorite room is upstairs. What a privilege it is to call the master bedroom “my” room … for when I visit it is my sanctuary. The patio door opens into the sun porch. Sitting nearby is an easel with an unfinished landscape painting waiting for the artist to return.
Across the room is a California king-sized bed covered with plump colorful pillows. The room, which takes up half of the second floor, is so large that the bed appears to be twin-sized. A dressing table with a bench makes me wish I had long hair to brush, jewels to try on, and a party to go to. But mostly, I want to cuddle up among the pillows to read a book from my uncle’s collection of New York Times best sellers.
The sun fills the room and bird songs of all kinds can be heard in the quiet of the day. However, my favorite spot is beyond the patio doors. I feel like Alice in Wonderland being transported into another world when I step into the sun porch.
White wicker furniture covered with bright green and colorful flower cushions and pillows. Hanging plants provide a feeling of the outdoors while enjoying the comfort of air conditioning. A birdcage of white wicker contains trailing ivy. Like the other plants, it never blocks your view of the creek. Although surrounded by glass, it feels like personal space. It is a room made for silence, for listening.
In the late afternoon, my aunt quietly comes in, places a small tray of cheese and crackers along with a cold drink on the glass-topped coffee table, smiles and says she’ll call me when supper is ready. I wonder whether she has checked the crab traps.
Uncle Bill has turned on a symphony for my listening pleasure. Mixed with birdsong and the gently splashing waves, it surrounds me.
It’s not long before my book slides off my lap as I doze. I am content and feel as if I am enveloped in a cocoon full of music, with a view. I want to stay here forever!
So how do we create a place of calm, of peace, of contentment in our own homes?
First, we have to determine what specifically draws our attention. I learned as a young newlywed how to look at photos. I would search for scenes out of Better Homes and Gardens and similar magazines that caught my eye. Then I would determine why; followed by, how can I adapt this idea to my home.
From my aunt’s sun porch I discovered the following:
- Sunny and bright made me feel up and happy.
- The deep, sink-into pillows enticed me to stay a while.
- Classical music softened my emotions.
- The living, full, green plants brought me closer to God’s creations.
- The birdcage made me smile.
- The room had balance and a consistent sense of peace and calmness.
The question now is how to adapt those discoveries to my home, to your home. We’ll talk about that in Part 2.
Until next time, I encourage you to take note of the things that tend to attract you, that help you feel relaxed and comfortable. Is it a particular color? Style of furniture? The placement? A specific item or grouping? This will be the basis for changing your home into a powerful anti-depressant.Copyright © by Constance Gilbert | 0 comments